I wouldn’t exactly call myself a fitness buff, but occasionally I’ll get a spring in my step and feel pro-active about doing some form of exercise. For me “exercise” consists of walking the dog for longer, going on a bike ride, or spending an hour or so doing lengths in the swimming pool and they’re all great but I’m a numbers guy, I want to see whether my effort is paying off not just feel it the next morning when I can’t move.

Most fitness trackers rely on one main feature, the pedometer, anyone can pick it up and use it with the results based on calculations which take into account your physical stats such as heigh and weight. But pedometers are prone to mistakes and calculations are based on guesswork. I wanted something that told me how I was doing based on my body, not how many steps I’d done. That’s why I opted to check out the Polar RCX5 GPS-Enabled Sports Watch.

polarwatch2In a short summary the RCX5 is a watch which bases your results from your heart rate during exercise. The watch comes with a strap that you wear just below your chest which has a small heart rate monitor that attaches to it. The heart rate monitor wirelessly syncs with the watch and shows you your current heart rate in real time. Both the watch and the heart rate monitor are waterproof and both work seamlessly in water with no interruptions.

The watch itself is a fantastic piece of kit. It’s considered a fitness computer in some respects as it’s full of various tools and features which allow you to easily monitor each work-outs for areas that you could improve on as well as monitoring your work out as you’re doing it. Operation of the watch itself was fairly straight forward meaning that you could unpack it, whack it on your wrist, put the heart rate strap and monitor on, and begin your work-out in around 10 minutes.

The Polar RCX5 can be used by almost anyone with any level of fitness but it is mostly aimed at those that are keen athletes and those that work out regularly. I would personally put myself in the box of low level of fitness but for me the watch did everything I wanted it to, I was able to choose between four different modes; Running, Cycling, Swimming, or Other Sport, this allowed me to easily choose my profile and begin my exercise but for someone looking for something more in-depth, certain endurance training programs can be downloaded and imported onto the Polar RCX5 from the polarpersonaltrainer.com website via the Polar DataLink.


Once your workout begins you’re given two separate screens which are different depending on what sport you’re doing. Both screens deliver information such as current heart rate, the amount of calories you’ve burned, how long you’ve been exercising, as well as what “Zone” you’re in, if you’re cycling and wearing the GPS tracker it’ll tell you your speed, and distant travelled.

At the end of each exercise you’re given various screens of data which show you your average heart rate, max heart rate, lowest heart rate, calories burned, and how long you were in each “Zone”. Zones help you personalise our exercise plan giving you a visual representation of your performance, Zone One is the lowest zone where you’re mostly resting or just beginning your work out, Zone Five is the highest level of endurance when your heart rate is at it’s highest.

polar-gpsCompared to other GPS fitness trackers the Polar RCX5 is surprisingly slim and light weight. On my skinny arms it is a little bulky but I guess on a more “manly” arm it wouldn’t seem out of place and could be used as an every day timepiece. Due to the watch’s slim profile Polar have opted to not include the GPS within the watch, this actually comes as a separate device that you can clip on to your trouser waist or keep in a pocket which you can charge using a microUSB cable that’s included – you need to remember to charge this before hand though..

The many features found in the watch alone aren’t the only things that the Polar RCX5 has to offer. The watch also works in partnership with an online personal trainer which shows you all of your data in much more detail as well as the ability to fine tune your work outs and import training programs. There’s also a vast community of other Polar watch users all sharing their work-out tips and exercise plans.

polar-rcx5-redOverall the Polar RCX5 is a quite advanced fitness computer/watch. Though it performed perfectly well using the features I used, I felt that some of the more advanced fitness features went to waste. The watches form factor is something that makes RCX5 stand out compared to other fitness watches with GPS capabilities and both the watch and heart rate monitor were comfortable to wear. If you’re looking for a fitness tracker that does more than a standard pedometer I’d definitely recommend taking a look at Polar’s range of watches, if you’re looking to step up your already existing exercise regime I’d definitely recommend the RCX5.

In terms of price the RCX5 can go from £267.50 for the watch alone, all the way up to £359.50 for the full GPS package so it really depends on what you’ll mainly be using it for as to which package you buy.

The Polar RCX5 on Polar.com

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