Ben Bentzin at Draper (NY) Middle School from IHT Spirit System® on Vimeo.

Wed, 1 Jun 2016
It’s a milestone week at IHT. After months in development and testing, the new Zone for IHT Spirit moves into its final field testing phase.Members of the IHT leadership team spent time this week in Schenectady, N.Y. and Washington, D.C. with representatives watching the final testing sessions on the new IHT Zone. “We have created our next generation wrist-based heart rate technology that will further enhance our assessment, data collection and curriculum management system, increasing our ability to support teachers and students even further,” said IHT co-founder and president Jen Ohlson.

IHT Zone’s final field testing


Draper MS students check out the IHT Zone wrist heart rate monitors.

Testing began Tuesday at Draper Middle School, where Doug Hallberg, the 2015 Middle School Teacher of the Year  in New York, had his students wearing the wrist-based monitors for their 80 minute phys ed classes. Hallberg has been involved with the IHT Zone heart rate monitor since its inception. Hallberg flew to Germany earlier this year with IHT, so he feels more like a proud parent than a PE teacher as his classes give the Zone what amounts to its final dress rehearsal.

Zone“This is the most excited I’ve been in my educational career, which is 24 years,” he said. “To be part of a process that I think will make things easier and more enjoyable for my students, and not only them but students around this country and around the world…it’s hard to imagine how I got here. It’s been an unbelievable blessing.”

Teaching the development team what ‘phys ed needs’

A member of IHT’s Advisory Board, Hallberg went to Germany to teach the development team about the Spirit System and what IHT would like to see in a new wearable monitor. The IHT Zone became the fruits of his labor, and he doesn’t stifle his excitement.

“I got to fly to Germany and meet with the amazing engineers and talk about what phys ed needs,” he said. “Then they built it. That doesn’t happen a lot in my life.”

If it works as planned – and Hallberg’s latest presentation with the devices came while speaking at the SHAPE America Eastern District Conference two weeks ago – communication between teacher and students improves dramatically. That’s the feedback he got from the passionate teachers who worked out with him in Atlantic City, N.J.

“I think it will make a phys ed teacher’s life so much easier and I think it makes it easier to connect with students, and that’s really all I care about,” Hallberg said. “My ability to have conversations with my kids about where they are and how they can manage/improve their own health and well-being.”

New technology is all in the wrist


IHT CEO Ben Bentzin and Draper PE teacher Doug Hallberg with students using the new IHT Zone monitors.

The IHT Zone makes two key advancements from the IHT Spirit System chest strap monitor. First, Hallberg said, it removes the monitor from the chest.

“Anytime I can get my kids away from chest-based technology and get it onto the wrist, it makes management and then student interaction so much easier,” he said. “To be able to look down at their wrist and see the number, see the color, I think that’s really going to help them manage what’s going on in my classes much better.”

Second, it lets the students – and only the individual students – see their work level and understand how they are working. Reaching the red – indicating that the user is in their target heart rate zone – is the goal and that goal is different from student-to-student.

Empowers students to ‘give everything you have’

“I tell my kids that ‘I want you to do the absolute best that you can as evidenced by you getting into the red. If you get to the red zone, you are giving me everything you have at that moment, and that’s all I can ask for,’” he explained. “Now that kid can raise his hand when he’s in the red and feel like he did what he needed to do.”

Following Hallberg’s testing, teachers in the Washington D.C. Public Schools will use the Zone on Thursday and Friday. The devices will be available to schools this fall for the 2016-17 school year.