I then tried to take the bike test. Because I’m a gear editor, I have an exercise bike in my basement. However, I could not use it to take the bike fitness test because I did not have a third-party electricity meter. That’s okay, I thought. I can not leave the house because I am at home with the kids, but I simply want to move to the treadmill to take the walking fitness test, as I – again – am a gear editor and also have a treadmill.
It did not work either, because the walking test must be mapped outside. Fine, I thought. I waited until my spouse came home, switched again and went outside to start the running test. I ran three blocks down the street, keeping my heart rate within the Polar Pro’s carefully prescribed warm-up parameters until I came to a stoplight. The watch informed me that I had not passed the running test because I had to stop.
I started asking myself: Who is it for again? What kind of clock makes you travel, not just outside, but to a closed outdoor track, and do you have a somewhat obscure third-party sensor just to take the basic tests? I finally took the test, which took about 40 minutes and gave me a VO2 max score of 30. Of these, the only test whose surgery and results made sense to me was the one where I lay down on the floor.
None of the features that Polar offers on this watch are particularly new. We’ve seen software like FitSpark recommending different workouts, FuelWise, to tell you when to eat and drink, and Training Load Pro, which acts as Garmin Coach to tell you if your workout is productive or excessive, on former Polar watches.
For me, the latest aspect of the Pacer Pro was how confusing its recommendations were, even compared to previous Polar watches that I have tried. For weeks, the watch told me every day that I risked fatal injury by continuing to exercise. Every other fitness tracker, even Whoop, rates me as being a pretty fit person. Polar explained that Training Load Pro only takes into account the last 28 days of training sessions, so discrepancies can throw it off; but I train pretty consistently. These baseline tests were just for fun, I think.
It was doubly enigmatic because the metric was comparable to my Apple Watch and Garmin measurements. Pacer Pro uses three separate satellite positioning systems, and I have not noticed any discrepancies on my previously mapped routes. With two tracked activities a day for a month, I still came under the full 7 days of advertised battery life.