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Garmin’s new heart rate tracker pairs almost perfectly with sports bras


Sports bras are a necessary evil. I’m not the bustiest runner, but even I need a high-support bra to override the laws of physics. However, by adding a chest strap to the mix, I often feel like I signed up to run 13 miles with a python squeezing my chest. That’s why the $149.99 Garmin HRM-Fit chest strap is a stroke of genius.

To understand why HRM-Fit is so great, you need to understand how traditional chest straps fail sports bra wearers. Traditional chest straps are usually an elastic loop that wraps around your entire body with electrodes on the underside. Since the electrodes need to maintain good contact with your skin, you need to tighten the loop so it doesn’t slip. Stick it under a medium or high support sports bra – which is already restrictive enough – and it’s a bad time. Add in underboob sweat and keeping my Polar H10 clean is quite a job.

Three clips – one in the center and two on the sides – secure the strap to the band of your sports bra.
Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales/The Verge

This may not seem like a big change, but the HRM-Fit doesn’t completely wrap your chest. Instead, there are three clips that hook onto the band of your sports bra. There are also two electrodes on the underside. I can’t stress enough how much fun it is to use the HRM-Fit because of this simple design change.

Thanks to the clips, there is no additional pressure. I often forgot I was wearing it. Conversely, I am still extremely conscious of my Polar H10. Plus, with the HRM-Fit, cleaning the strap is easy because underboob sweat wasn’t as much of an issue since there isn’t a ton of fabric in contact with my skin. I went from dreading putting on my chest strap to not caring about it at all.

It works best on medium to high support sports bras.
Photo by Victoria Song / The Verge

I’m all for a chest strap that doesn’t require people with tatas to sacrifice comfort, especially since chest straps help people who can’t use smartwatches or for whom smartwatches don’t work. are not the best option. (Have you tried putting a boxing glove on a smartwatch? It’s no fun.) Plus, they’re more accurate than optical heart rate sensors because they measure your heart rate via electrical signals at place of light reflected by your skin. This makes it a great choice for people with tattoos and more tanned skin.

The $149.99 Garmin HRM-Fit is a uniquely designed chest strap that attaches to your sports bra instead of wrapping around your entire chest.

That said, it’s not perfect. Because it clings to your bra, you need the right kind of sports bra. Garmin has a short guide, but it works best if you have a bra with a medium-width band. I found that if the band was too narrow, the HRM-Fit would not lay flat. This excluded a few of my favorite sports bras. Another downside is that it’s not recommended with zipper-front sports bras. This can also be tricky if you’re using underwired sports bras. I was lucky that the HRM-Fit mostly worked with the majority of my sports bras, especially since replacing them would be very expensive. But depending on your sports bra preferences, the HRM-Fit may not be compatible.

I also wish the HRM-Fit was easier to use outside of the Garmin platform. It’s super simple if you use it with a Garmin watch. But it’s not as easy to display real-time data if you prefer to use the HRM-Fit with a third-party smartwatch or on its own. Let’s say you’re going for a run without a Garmin watch. The strap will record metrics like steps, calories, intensity minutes, and heart rate, but it won’t record this data while running. Conversely, Polar’s chest straps work with the separate Polar Beat app that can record timed activities, even if you don’t have a Polar watch.

There are two electrodes placed on either side of your chest. This reduces the amount of fabric that comes into contact with your body.
Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales/The Verge

I don’t like that it costs $150. The pink tax is real.
Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales/The Verge

This is less of an issue if you plan to use it with gym equipment or fitness apps that support third-party accessories. It has Bluetooth and ANT Plus, allowing you to view data from a machine in real time. Meanwhile, if you join forces with connected machines like Peloton Bikes and fitness apps, you will at least be able to see your logged HRM-Fit data in that app’s workout summary. In the Garmin Connect app, you can only view it as part of your overall daily data unless you’re using it with another Garmin device.

I also don’t like the fact that at $150, it’s much more expensive than the Polar H10 or Wahoo’s various Tickr chest straps. Those that are easily found for less than $100, especially during the holidays. It’s the pink tax. Not only do you have to buy a sports bra, but you also have to pay more to use a chest strap that fits your bra comfortably. But for all my gripes, I’m glad HRM-Fit exists. Finally, someone in the fitness tech field recognized that chest straps can — and should — be designed differently for people who wear bras.


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