Yes, I hope you all raised your hands just like my emoji homegirl. Why am I so addicted to the heart rate monitor? Because I can see my heart rate and either step it up, keep it going, or take it down a little. It's an amazing gauge during a workout to help you work harder and smarter.
It took me a lot of practice to figure out what was the best "zone" for me. My gym offered a monitoring session to determine what is optimal and I tried to use this for a while. It was a great jumping off point. I definitely used a lot of trial and error, poor math skills and playing around to see when I burn the most for the longest. For me, it is usually around 125. I can do intervals and get up to 150-160, but after those kind of workout I generally feel like a ravenous monster, so it isn't always worth it for me to work to that level.
I have literally spent three years playing around with different heart rate monitors, and finding my optimal work out zones and who better to share all of my random findings with than you guys?!
When it comes to heart rate monitors, in my unprofessional opinion, I always say go for the Polar FT Watch. You can get it for about $60 online now. When I got mine a few years ago they were almost $200! I still use this almost daily and find it gives the most accurate reading. The band is a pain to put on, but I don't mind for the accuracy. It's a give and take here people!
I have also tried really, really hard to love the FitBit Charge HR, but it just isn't work out. Don't get me wrong, it is an excellent step counter (that doesn't require your wrist to be moving!) but as a heart rate monitor, it doesn't quite do it. The band as to be just the right tightness and it can't move at all. When I am getting really sweaty in hot yoga or spin, it slips around and stops monitoring my heart rate altogether. There is nothing like an hour of spin that reads as 120 calories burned! You also have to do the calorie math in your head, and that just really doesn't work out for me. But, again, for counting steps, this is awesome!
I also gave Garmin VivoFit the good old college try, but I must have purchased a jenky one because the band that goes around your chest was literally cutting my skin open. #fail