For years, I’ve been frustrated using a heart rate monitor strap because of it continually stretching. The strap making contact with the skin provides the signal to the heart rate monitor unit, which shows the data live and stores it for post-exercise analysis in units like heart rate watches or bike computers. Almost daily, the strap needed adjustment to fit so that contact with skin makes a strong enough signal to the heart rate monitor itself. Some straps are easier to adjust than others and some just run out of elasticity. Hard training sessions producing lots of sweat or rides in the rain exacerbated the problem, as did fluctuations in weight due to seasonal changes, hydration status, and you know – calorie counting or not. Some training sessions, I would even have to stop to readjust the strap pushing it under my bra to stay up…for a while. After one particularly sweaty and bumpy ride off-road where the strap tightened to its max kept landing around my waist, I was fed up and started researching alternatives.
I was already using a wrist-based monitor for recovery metrics and sleep scores. Its accuracy for heart rate during hard exercise is sketchy. Sometimes it’s on and sometimes it’s way off. I’m a coach to elite athletes and an elite Masters athlete myself, while other metrics are essential to track training and its effectiveness, heart rate is still the gold standard for most sports and an important metric in conjunction with other metrics to gauge exercise intensity and its strain on the body. Using a designated heart rate monitor is essential for me as a data-driven coach and athlete. I have to have that data to form a complete picture of what’s going on in training and how my body is responding. So how could I lose the strap and get the most accurate measurement? I thought, wouldn’t it be great if there was a place in a bra to put the monitor? Sports bras stay fixed and are already part of our training kit. I was in the market for new sports bras too. What if I could combine the purchase?
After an online search, I was thrilled to discover that a sports bra with a heart rate monitor connection was a thing! My search, at first, only produced some partially used heart rate monitor bras from brands which discontinued the line on used clothing sites. First off, I didn’t want a used sports bra. Secondly, if the product worked, I wanted a whole new drawer of them not a discontinued one-off. I had to dig deeper to find it but eventually I found Sensoria. Sensoria seems to be the only manufacturer making this type of product at the present time. I ordered a Medium Red and a Large Black because the sizing charts vary a bit between the two color choices.
After weeks of testing in multiple hard and sweaty sessions in the highest heat, humidity and rain, here’s my rating:
Effectiveness: 5 Stars
My Garmin heart rate monitor works seamlessly with the Sensoria bra contact points! After pairing it with the Garmin head unit, it saw the signal immediately. It has worked after dozens of sessions without any interruption of signal. Best of all, no adjustments during hard exercise have been necessary and no need for pairing again when changing units among bras or after washing them.
Support: 5 Stars
The bra is well made with strong hems that provide support along the edges. The racer back style works with my exercise tops and cycling kit. The bra comes with removable pads for a seamless look. I wear it without the pads and it has thick enough fabric to still be modest in light colored, sweaty tops.
Comfort: 5 Stars
The bra itself is made of high-quality material and the fit is true to size based on the chart associated with each color. The sizing between the Red and Black does vary. The Red Medium is slightly bigger than the Black Large, and it fits a little looser, which is nice on days when the weather is cooler, sessions are less sweat intensive, or when I’ve um, beefed up due to weight gain, hydration status, or changes in breast size due to hormonal cycles. The contact webbing is noticeable but not irritating. The bras themselves are very comfortable, albeit a little heavier feeling along the lower edge because of the small heart rate monitor there but this feeling is more comfortable than a heart rate monitor strap AND the bra and strap do not move around! Comfort gets 5 stars because knowing the heart rate monitor is there eases my mind that my data is being recorded accurately without a slipping strap! So far after weeks of heavy use and washing, the bra has not stretched.
Ease of Use: 5 Stars
The bra has a webbing similar to the contact points of a heart rate monitor strap along the lower edge. It has two studs that work with the heart rate monitor. I use a Garmin heart rate monitor and it snaps into place easily and firmly and stays put throughout the session! The bra is easy to get on too although it may hear the creak of the webbing as you stretch it to put on. After exercise, snap the unit out easily and dry it off – something I never did before and will likely prolong the life of the heart rate monitor. Put the bra in a mesh lingerie laundry bag and throw it in the wash. Line dry and it’s good as new.
Price: 3 Stars
The Sensoria Heart Rate Monitor Bra is pricey at $69 each. However, it is competitively priced with other high-end sports bras which do not have the snaps and webbing that act as a holder for a heart rate monitor. I bought a quantity that lasts for one laundry cycle so it was an investment. I rated this as 3 Stars for this reason. That being said, reworking the budget for a high-quality product that does double duty seemed worth it to me. Having a quality sports bra and a heart rate monitor that isn’t distracting me from hard training is a high priority and therefore the Sensoria Heart Rate Monitor Bra proves its value.
Overall: 4 1/2 Stars
Nearly 5 stars with the price being the only consideration, I highly recommend this product. Data is being collected, the body is protected and in comfort during hard exercise, and form and function are combined into an elegantly simple item.
Thanks for reading this review!
If you’re ready for training made smart and simple, you can see the options for this product and buy it here: www.sensoriafitness.com
ABOUT BETH LEASURE-HUDSON
Beth Leasure-Hudson is a UCI Sport Director and USAC Level1 *Distinguished Coach with certifications in Power-Based Training & Skills Instruction, and M.S. in Exercise Physiology. An experienced cyclist herself, she qualified for UCI Master's Worlds in 2021. Her athletes have been pros, national champions, and enthusiastic amateurs.