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LVL – First Wearable to Track Hydration

LVL wearable hydration monitor with smartphone
LVL is the first ever wearable to accurately measure hydration in real-time.

I love wearable technology. I follow along with a lot of the changes in the field. But honestly, I’ve felt a little bored over the past year, I wasn’t that excited about anything. The only innovations that have impressed me lately is the introduction of ways to measure mental health/stress level. But the rest have felt like the same old things. LVL changes that. LVL really feels like a fresh and truly innovative entry to what is becoming a crowded market.

The LVL band has:

  • activity tracking
  • sleep tracking
  • heart rate monitoring
  • mood tracking
  • hydration monitor

LVL wearable with black wristband

Activity and sleep tracking is fairly common in wearables these days. Next level ones have continuous heart rate monitoring and a few on the market are starting to include mood/stress tracking. Nobody has the continuous hydration tracking until now. This is a Level Up!

The LVL uses red lights to monitor heart rate and hydration, while most wearables are using green light for wrist bound heart rate tracking. (My Garmin… cough cough) The reason most of them use green lights is due to the fact that they are scientifically simpler, so their profit margins end up higher because they can get them to the market faster and don’t require as much development time. Red light is more common in medical grade products because it can reach 10x deeper into the body and it can read more signals in the body.

LVL wearable sensors showing


So why the interest in hydration tracking? LVL was developed by BSX Technologies, whose CEO (Dustin Freckleton) suffered a stroke while in med school due to dehydration. That sparked an interest in helping others understand that people can be pretty bad at recognizing how much they actually need to drink. People who are dehydrated perform worse than those who are hydrated, both at physical tasks and mental tasks. Dehydration affects sleep, weight, recovery… everything. And it is thought that 75% of Americans are walking around dehydrated to some extent.

I’m eager to get my hands on one of these and put it through the paces. BSX just launched their Kickstarter for LVL and it’s already met the goal in one day. I hope the momentum continues. Already people are asking about additional features (smart notifications is one I saw) and those can come with a larger backing fund to work with. But the hydration monitoring is still the key and focus goal.

Person wearing LVL wristband while holding glass of water

And for those of you who are leery of crowdfunding, I get it. I’ve made some poor backing decisions with technology products where the end result was very late and not well made. But BSX has been through crowdfunding before with their BSXinsight, a lactate threshold monitor that is being used by pros and high-level athletes all over now. They came through on that campaign perfectly and all of my interactions with the company have been very positive. Not only do they have the medical training and knowledge, they have the sport-athletic background because they are athletes themselves. They know how training can drive our lives.

I love how this device and the companion app will give you actionable insight into how you can improve. Messages like, “Drink this much water in the next so many minutes and you’ll feel better.” give the user real direction. And since it uses the red light sensor, it has the potential to expand to measuring other metrics.

With 37 days to go, LVL’s fundraising is killing it with $430,000+ raised! Their initial goal was $50,000.

Disclaimer: I volunteered to help BSX help spread the word on this campaign because of my past interactions with the company. I truly think they are and will continue to great things in the sports technology arena. All photos in this post came from them, since I don’t have a device to take photos of myself. And even if I did, my photos wouldn’t look this lovely!


MilestonePod gets an Update!

MilestonePod box The MilestonePod got an update! It was just launched today. (August 2, 2016)

If you don’t recall or never heard about it, the MilestonePod is a cool little device you can attach to your shoe to track the mileage on your shoes, but it extends beyond that. It can help coach you on ways to improve your form. I reviewed it nearly a year ago and much that core review remains applicable. [MilestonePod review]

For the past week or so I had a preview release of the new MilestonePod to play with. (FTC disclosure: I got it for free.*)

The new device has some very distinct changes from the previous one: it looks a little sleeker, the odometer display is gone (I never used it!) and it’s waterproof. But the best improvement is you no longer have to unlace your shoe to attach it.

I mean… who has time in this day to actually UNLACE a shoe? 

Okay, that’s being silly, but it seriously is handy to be able to slide the cradle under your shoelaces:

Then place the Pod on top and twist to click it in place:

So simple.

The app has been cleaned up a little and the device syncs to it faster now. It also seems like the mileage is a little closer to my Garmin numbers with the new device. And even with all of the enhancements in the new version, it remains $24.95.

I love having this so I know what kind of mileage I’ve put on a pair of shoes. I like that it isn’t tethered to that shoe forever, you can buy new shoes and just reset your Pod for the new pair.

You can pick it up on the Milestone Sports website, and they have free shipping on the device for a limited time.

*FTC Rules: I received one free MilestonePod device under embargo to test before their launch date. 

RestOn Smart Sleep Monitor from Sleepace (Review)

I haven’t been wearing an activity tracker regularly at all in 2016. I love playing with wearable tech, but I’ve been disenchanted with many of them of late and while I have played with other devices, none have stuck. And you know what? I don’t really care if I’m missing out on my step counts. That was never my most favorite metric anyway. Want to know what I liked to see? Sleep data.

Boring? Perhaps… but I liked to see the ups and downs and the vindication that says “SEE! See how many times I had to get up last night? No wonder I’m tired!” or the flipside of “What do you mean I got 8 solid hours of sleep with most of it being deep sleep? I feel like I didn’t sleep at all! Did you hear my husband snoring all night, sleep tracker? I think not!”

So I was excited when I was given the opportunity to test the RestOn Smart Sleep Monitor from Sleepace. (Disclaimer: Yes, that means I was given one for free to use, abuse and review.) “I can get sleep tracking without wearing a bracelet? Cool! Sign me up!”


It’s super easy to setup. The box contains the unit, a charging cable and a tiny manual. You basically lay the strap for the unit across your mattress (under your sheet) and then put the cover on it on the side of your bed (on top of your sheet) to keep it in place.


After that, you sleep on it. The end.

Oh wait… there’s a little more.

You need to install an app that communicates with the device to crunch the info and display that data back to you. You get an overall sleep score as your main reading as well as a quick overview of your heart rate, breath rate and how long it took you to fall asleep:


Scrolling down it gives you a little more information on how your night played out. Deep sleep, light sleep, heart rate, breathing and even shows you how many times you turned over at night. I never remember to log into the app and stop the sleep recording, so it usually does some weird stuff in the graph for a while after my wake up time, even if it records an accurate wake time.


Tapping on your sleep score breaks things down a little more and tells you why you got points docked where you did.


Don’t know what they mean by one of those? That’s covered, tapping on it will give you an explanation.


The bradycardia one irks me… If you scroll down on that explanation (that I don’t have in the screen grab) it says “physiological bradycardia which is very common among those who regularly exercise…” Oh… so my low heart rate at night is normal for me and I shouldn’t be worried. So maybe I shouldn’t be docked? Maybe, maybe, maybe? 🙂

And for the most part, the data seems to be pretty accurate. Except every now and then it has a freakout and returns wildly inaccurate information. Take, for example, the night before my recent half marathon:


I woke up at 3:40am for the race. It does seem to reflect that I got up, but then it shows I’m kind of up/down/up/down until a little after 4:30 and then I drop into a coma until after 7am. Which is interesting because I was on a shuttle bus to the race start line and then I was running a race during that time. Maybe it was picking up movements from my husband’s side of the bed? The RestOn strap doesn’t extend to his side of the bed, so I have no idea what was going on there.

Speaking of husbands… I’m kind of intrigued to put this on his side of the bed and see what’s going on with him. His snoring is super annoying sometimes and he’s always had an extremely high heart rate, even at rest. I’m just curious. But then, he would be an intriguing test case for me to slap a HR wrist-based tracker to see that data. Not that he would care to know all that information.

The battery lasts for about a month. Then you just plug in a micro-USB cable, charge it up and you’re set for another month. My sheets don’t fit very well (I think a king-size Sleep Number bed is not quite exactly the same as other king size beds? Or the sheets I bought were mislabeled.) so I usually have to straighten it out each night before I lay down, tug the sheet down some. But then, I have to do that every night anyway.

If you’d like to get your hands on this, I have one to giveaway! Sleepace has generously offered up one RestOn ($149 value) to one of you. Earn entries via the Rafflecopter widget in this post:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Contest is open to residents of the US and Canada and closes on May 25, 2016.

Disclaimer: All reviews are my own opinion, this product was provided free for the purpose of review.

Octane Fitness Zero Runner

Zero Runner
I first started to hear about the Zero Runner from Octane Fitness about one year and 2 or 3 months ago. I was immediately captivated by the concept and idea of the machine and I started to mention it online a lot. When I ran the Boston Marathon I was hoping to find Octane at the expo so I could get the chance to try it, I knew they had debuted it at the expo the prior year. But I didn’t spend much time at the expo and didn’t find them.

But then in the summer, I got a bonus at work for being named the employee of the year and I used that to cover part of the cost to buy a Zero Runner ZR7. Let me repeat that…. I put my bonus toward purchasing a Zero Runner myself.* The Zero Runner was so handy to have during the summer months when I couldn’t get outside to run due to the heat. I put in lots of miles on it during those months.

A on the Zero Runner
My kiddo thinks the Zero Runner is fun too, and it’s a great upper body workout holding her on it!

Then I started the Runner’s World challenge to do a streak of at least one mile per day from Thanksgiving to New Years Day. Every additional day when I wouldn’t have normally run to complete this streak, I ran on the Zero Runner. And then I just kept going with my streak and I did 118 days (stopping due to some glute pain, general fatigue).

Here are my favorite things about my ZR7:

  • Quiet, I can use it when my kid is asleep without worrying about waking anyone up. There isn’t a motor in this thing.
  • No impact
  • Very close to running outside motion
  • You actually use your own muscles to move it (see no motor) so it’s a good workout.
  • Solid, well-built machine.

That said, there were some oddities:

  • The foot pedals seem a tiny bit too far apart.
  • The handles make for an arm motion that is NOT like where you hold your hands when running outside.
  • App quirks… which I will get into in a minute.
ZeroRunner ZR8
The ZeroRunner ZR8 (at Pacific Fitness Equipment in Las Vegas)

So when Octane asked me if I wanted to go try out a new ZR8 at a local fitness equipment store, I was excited to take the opportunity. I took my lunch hour and drove over to Pacific Fitness Equipment here in Las Vegas. (They are, incidentally, the place where I bought my ZR7!) They were all ready for me to hop on and give it a test. Here are the ZR8 improvements that resonated with me the most:

  • Foot pedals are closer together!
  • Lower grip handles that make for a 3rd option for your hand placement. These new handles are lower and allow for a motion that more closely mimics what you do with your arms when running. The thing I noticed the most about these are that you engage your core a lot more when using them, which is a good thing.
  • The leg joints are a different color. (Okay, that doesn’t matter… just something to notice!)
  • The legs are engineered differently and are a lighter weight aluminum than the original, which makes the movement even easier.
  • The price! The Zero Runner is not a cheap machine and the ZR8 is about $1000 MORE than the ZR7.

Still… It would be awesome to upgrade, but I can’t justify the cost of another $1000 when the ZR7 is pretty amazing.


The latest addition to the Zero Runner family that was announced is the ZR8000, the commercial model made for gyms. So if you have a gym membership, give your gym manager a link to this machine and encourage them to buy some for the gym! Then you can try one for the cost of your monthly gym membership that you already pay!

On to the apps… there are two apps for the Zero Runner. The iOS app talks to your Zero Runner via Bluetooth and allows you to setup a training program for how often you want to run it, start a workout that is based on time/distance, or do a circuit-training program where it walks you through cardio time on the machine with strength intervals using the included Cross Circuit resistance bands hooked onto the 7 different attachment points on the machine. The iOS app can keep track of your whole history so you’ll know exactly how many miles you’ve put in on your machine over the lifetime of ownership. There are some quirks in the user experience of the app where things could be designed a little better, but overall it’s effective.

The other app is part of the Garmin Connect IQ store and it’s supposed to let you start a run inside on your Zero Runner and then pause your Garmin and continue it outside. (Or vice versa). I was super excited to try this functionality. HOWEVER… when I tested a Garmin Vivoactive for a couple of weeks I never got the app to work right. And when I upgraded to a Garmin Forerunner 235 earlier this year, it doesn’t work because that’s not listed as a supported device because they haven’t updated the app. I REALLY REALLY REALLY hope they update it, make it available to all Connect IQ devices and just make it work in general because that is my biggest disappointment in this. I kind of purchased a new Garmin with the assumption that all Connect IQ devices would be supported. Not the case.

Still, I love my Zero Runner and aside from setting up the time for me to visit Pacific Fitness Equipment to test the ZR8, Octane has never paid me anything to write this. This is a 100% honest review based on my own experiences. Although, if they wanted to send me a t-shirt or something, I’d accept that! 😉

Visit Pacific Fitness Equipment

10830 W Charleston Blvd
Ste 130
Las Vegas, NV 89135

*I got a pretty grumpy message after one social media post about a Zero Runner workout where the person said something about how it’s so unfair that “bloggers get all the free stuff” and how we “flaunt it in everyone’s face.” Yes, some bloggers get some pretty huge perks but they usually have to do work to promote the brand online to earn that. And in the case of this, I was just posting about a product I like.