The monitoring system turns gym workouts into competitions.

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I PROBABLY SHOULD have paid more attention to how long the workout would be.

I was at Sweat Equity in Bellevue to try their circuit classes and test the MyZone system they use to motivate members. MyZone also makes workouts rather . . . competitive.

I could not resist.

Work up a sweat

Sweat Equity Gym

989 112th Ave. N.E., No. 102, Bellevue


MyZone is a monitoring system that tracks activity, heart rate, calories burned and other related data. It also has an effort points system based on different heart-rate zones. Members buy their own and use it while working out. They also can wear them on workouts away from the gym, like a run or a hike. When they get back to the gym, their info downloads and they can compare. I liked the idea of being accountable outside of the gym.

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At the gym, Sweat Equity projects your stats on a wall for everyone else in class to see. The gym has done competitions for effort points and apparently things can get a little crazy.

In general, the goal is to be in the yellow zone as much as you can, trainer and owner Nick Merrill told me. The board will let us know who stayed in the yellow zone longest during class. Naturally, I wanted to win.

For the first four-minute set, my group did one minute of triceps work, then switched to dumbbell squats. No big deal. For the next chunk, we rowed 750 meters or cycled for one mile, then went back to the weights.

I went full effort and launched myself quickly into the yellow zone. I was having fun.

We switched next to a shoulder press combined with lunges with medicine balls. I did barbell rows to accommodate a sore shoulder. The rows were hard, but I still felt strong. I was not about to let up, and my heart-rate zone was staying steady at yellow or red.

For our next round of cardio, we switched between one minute on the bike and one minute on the treadmill. By then, I noticed my partner was running faster than me. Was I slowing down? I noticed some people weren’t going full-out the entire time. I was side-eyeing the countdown clock.

It occurred to me that I probably could have come up with a better strategy than going all-out for an hour.

Our next station had battling ropes — we held the ends of a long, heavy rope and slammed them against the floor for 30 seconds while our partner did wall sits at 90 degrees against a post. Thirty seconds felt like an eternity on the ropes; my shoulders and legs burned.

We did more cardio, switching between a stepper and a bike. By then, I figured out I could pretend to work hard and nobody would know. Except for that giant screen noting when I moved out of the yellow zone. I stepped faster.

We closed with four minutes of core and four minutes of 30 seconds hard and 30 seconds easy on the Airdyne, a cycling machine with moving handles.

After a lot of effort, we were done. I did not win. And I was so exhausted by the end, I did not care.

I like the tracking system. I don’t know if I would want to have every workout I do tracked, but I like the idea of bringing technology to the gym and using it to push yourself on good days. I’m sure it’s also motivating during hard parts of the circuit or when you don’t feel like trying harder. Whenever I saw myself dip down into green, I pushed more. For myself — and to see if I could win.