BioTrainer Activity Monitor Review

The BioTrainer


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If you're interested in monitoring your workouts, you've probably been using something like a pedometer or a heart rate monitor. Maybe you've even used an activity calculator. While those are great tools, there's another tool out there you may not have heard of...the BioTrainer. This activity monitor actually measures your daily activity and converts it into calories burned. Now you have a new way to see how many calories you really burn with exercise and daily activity.

How it Works

This activity monitor doesn't just measure steps or heart rate. Instead, it measures physical activity (frequency, duration, and intensity of your movements) based on your weight, giving you an idea of how many calories you're burning during exercise and other daily movements like walking, gardening and even folding laundry. The only activities it doesn't measure are swimming and resistance training.

Simply enter your weight, clip the BioTrainer to your waistband and will measure 'horizontal and vertical body acceleration,' a fancy way of saying your movements, and then convert those movements into calories burned. The display will show your calories burned, activity units used or the timer/clock, depending on which one you want to track. You can also reverse the display so you can see the numbers while you're still on the move.


Though the website professes the BioTrainer is highly accurate, it's hard to know exactly how accurate it is.

Though there have been studies done, one showed the BioTrainer overestimated calories burned while another found it was fairly accurate. There is an interesting (and hard to read) study at their site if you're interested in the nitty gritty of how it works.

Monitoring Your Activity

When using the BioTrainer, there are three modes available - Activity Units, Calories or Time In Motion:

Activity Mode

When in the Activity Mode, the display will show three bars, each equal to 2000 Activity Units. If you're wondering what Activity Units are, you can read about it hereĀ and I wish you luck in deciphering the formulas they used here. To make it easy, I'll just say that each bar corresponds to 50 calories. Every time you burn 50 calories, a bar disappears.

Calorie Mode

When in Calorie Mode, the display will show how many calories you've burned from pretty much any movements you make. It also shows the activity bars as well.

Time in Motion

In this mode, you can view the clock or a timer that starts and stops according to your movements.

The BioTrainer holds up to 9 days of activity and there's also an online service you can sign up for to track your calories in/calories out along with a nutritional program where you can log your calories (the subscription service was not reviewed). The online subscription service is free for a month after you buy a BioTrainer and $9.95 per month after that.

The Bottom Line

The only real problem I had was trying to figure out what the Activity Units actually meant. It took some searching on the site to find that 2000 Activity Units equals 50 calories. It would've been nice to see that info in the manual. Despite that, I enjoyed using the BioTrainer. It's:

  • Easy to program: You set the clock, enter your weight and you're done. The buttons are intuitive (click on the 'Calorie' button and, amazingly, you'll see how many calories you've burned!)
  • A great wake-up call. We often overestimate how many calories we burn with exercise and, though the BioTrainer sometimes seemed a little off (telling me I burned over 900 calories during a 50-minute run, which I find hard to believe) it can be a real eye-opener to see how many calories you burn throughout the day, especially if you sit a lot.
  • Motivating. One morning, the BioTrainer told me I burned 9 calories during an hour of writing and occasional stretching. That just killed me. As a result, I wear the BioTrainer every day and get up much more often just to see that number climb.
  • Reasonably Priced. At $49.99, this is a quality purchase if you want new ways to monitor your calories.

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