Excercise Timer

Tue, May 19, 2015 4-minute read

I have recently got on an exercise regimen to fight my back pain problems. It is sort of like Yoga but in a controlled manner. I don’t know if its fun, but it definitely helps to keep pain away. Typically, I’ll need to do 4-6 exercises twice a day. Each exercise is repeated three times and lasts 30 sec each time. Pretty simple, right? You need to keep aside about 30 minutes twice a day to take care of this. So far I am able to keep up.

I have only one problem with this. Timing the 30secs. I am now counting mentally. And you know how bad that can be. There are days when my 30sec count over-ran a minute and my posture begins to hurt. There are days when my 30 secs get over in less than 20sec because I started out hurting! The bigger problem is, I seem to need amazing silence in order to concentrate and count correctly. Luckily, I don’t need to practice breathing patters while doing these poses.

As a tech geek, there has to be an app for this right? I started looking for some. Mind you, am a stingy geek. So am not going to pay and try something that I am not already convinced as will work. I tried a couple of stopwatch apps. Now am trying an yoga timer. The stop watch apps didn’t work for me. I don’t know how long this yoga timer will work. There are half a dozen free-to-use exercise timer apps out there. Somehow everyone gets something wrong. And I hate it that even after so much technological advancements, my phone still needs to f’king connect to the internet to understand my voice command? Seriously? I am sure that mobile processor is better than the Pentium machine that worked with good ol’ dragon speech-to-text suite, without internet. Anyway, that’s the state of the free art. I could write an app, but it would cost me USD99 to put it on my phone. It’s cheaper to try half a dozen USD2 apps to see if they already do the job.

Thinking about it, I don’t need a lot of advanced jazz. All I need is a tick sound every second that I can count. I can create a 30 min sound track and put it in loop and I’ll be good to go. Perhaps, I’ll do this over the weekend or something. I found out from my mom and dad (both of whom practice yoga, not my therapy ones, but general yoga), that they either count mentally or just set a timer for 40s and hope they do atleast 30s worth of a pose. Nice hack, but I don’t want to settle so easily.

What makes this complex? For most gym/exercise routines, the exercise is a series of moves or poses. Usually, you can get into the pattern or pose almost immediately. So you can start a timer and start doing the exercise and stop when the timer beeps. And you can easily setup intervals and train the way you need. Yoga is a little different. Usually (unless you are a master already, but even then), it is a sequence of steps to get into a pose. And you are advised to do them slow and ensure you are not hurting yourself. And typically each step has a specific breathing pattern to adhere to. You see how complex it already got? For many exercises, you may be able to get to the final pose within 1-2 secs. But for some it may take longer. There maybe way too many things to check before you are good to stay in that pose. Usually it could take upto 6-7secs in such cases. Then you stick to the pose for 30-40secs and then trace back to normalcy, just as slowly. Relax and repeat.

What exactly do I want the timer (app or not) to do? Simple. When I say “start”, start counting seconds (optionally sounding a tick) and alert me when 30s (or some configured interval) is done. No, I don’t want it to tell me what my pose should be, it need not be any more intelligent, it need not have alarm clocks, lap timers, countdown timers, wonderful music, social media integration, news feeds, connections to yoga instructors. Nothing. I don’t want it to do anything more than what I just said. How difficult is that anyway? And yeah, it can totally be on my watch.