At Greatist, we love us some interval training. It’s quick, challenging, and efficient at building all-around endurance and strength. Most importantly, it’s a heck of a lot more fun than jogging along — or rowing, biking, etc. — at the same pace for an hour or more. So when Hurricane Sandy barreled into the Northeast corridor and left us without access to the gym, I was glad to have something to help me get in an interval session from home.

Who’s the Boss? — The Gymboss Interval Timer

GymbossPhoto: Gymboss

The Gymboss Interval Timer

is an unassuming device that passes for an ordinary stopwatch at first glance (of course, I used a standard black model, though the timer comes in several other brighter colors). And while the Gymboss does have a stopwatch setting, the appeal lies with its repeating interval function, letting users program customized interval workouts from zero to 99 minutes. Users can input up to two different interval lengths, too, making workouts with different work/rest splits — like Tabata Protocol — a relative breeze to track.

To test the Gymboss, I put it (and myself) through three different interval workouts:

  • Tabata Protocol for push-ups
  • 30 seconds on/30 seconds off split with burpees
  • 40 seconds on/10 seconds off max sit-ups

The device worked without a hitch for each, and I especially liked being able to set the volume and duration of beeps that let users know when one interval has ended and another begins (I correctly predicted I’d want things a little louder for the burpee workout, since the sound of my chest hitting the floor can easily drown out quieter beeps). And while it took a few minutes to get the hang of programming new intervals with the device’s three buttons, it didn’t take more than 30 seconds to get the next workout ready (sadly, there’s no way to store your favorite workouts for quick access).

Tick Tock — The Takeaway

The Gymboss is a simple, no-frills piece of equipment that’s great at what it does. The sturdy, water-resistant casing was a definite plus, and I was never worried it was going to fall off a chair and shatter or short circuit after grabbing it with a sweaty palm (it also includes a belt clip). And while the digital display is small and not terribly bright, the sound cues make sure users are always aware of what’s happening when.

But the Gymboss’ simplicity is also its biggest downside. While it can handle more than a regular stopwatch, the Gymboss still only has settings for up to two different intervals, making it a poor option for more complex circuits (though the company’s slightly more expensive Gymboss Max product allows for up to 25 intervals and the ability to store programs). Plus, at $19.95, it’s significantly pricier than the numerous interval training apps that can do even more, right on your smartphone.

If you’re looking for a dependable device to time workouts while keeping a pricey phone out of harm’s way, the Gymboss is definitely a good option. Just don’t expect any compliments from hardcore techies on your fancy new toy.

Have you struggled with timing our intervals? What are your favorite interval timers? Let us know in the comments below or tweet David at @d_tao.

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