We Tried It: The Gym Boss Timer


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  47 comments   :  34,328 Views

Editor's Note: We were recently sent the Gym Boss timer to review. SparkPeople's resident mixed martial arts expert, Paul, put it to the test.

By Paul Elfers

They say: The GYMBOSS is a small, easy to use, repeating interval timer. This multi-use timer has many versatile functions that make it beneficial to virtually any type of exercise program.

GYMBOSS will make any workout easier to plan and execute with more accuracy and consistency.

  • 1 or 2 intervals - 2 seconds to 99 minutes
  • Repeat up to 99 times
  • Beep and/or Vibrate alarm
  • Alarm duration 1, 5, or 10 seconds
  • Stopwatch function
  • Secure belt clip
  • Compact Size (1 ¾ x 2 ¼ x ½ inches)
  • Water and shock resistant
  • AAA battery required
We say:
  • small and ultra portable
  • easy to use (but not at first)
  • very flexible and configurable
  • truly makes for great workouts
  • audible or vibration alerts (or both) allow for times you can't hear it or times you can't wear it
  • price is right ($19.95)
  • difficult to use the first time
  • no included workouts or specific suggestions, instead, general suggestions which puts it to the buyer to seek out or create their own

Some of us at SparkPeople had visited a certified kettlebell instructor and he swore by the Gym Boss. So, when they sent us one, I was excited to give it a try. Right out of the box, it looks hard to use. For example, you have to hold (not just press) the button "Next" to turn the unit on. Once it turns on, there are 7 different pieces of information the little 1" x 2" screen. When you first do this (even with the little slip of paper that it comes with and even though some usage hints are written on the unit) you think, "I'm not going to get this. I'm not going to remember how to do anything."

Fortunately, that's not really the case and quickly enough you learn how to do everything you need to. The learning curve is there... you do have to get up to speed... but it does not take as long as you'd guess. And it isn't really Gym Boss' fault, either. There is just a lot you (and it) need to know. How many rounds? How long is each round? Is there rest in between? Do you want an audible alarm or a vibration? Or both? Quickly enough it all seems to make sense.

My other complaint was that there were no actual workouts given along with the unit. I understand that everybody is going to be interested in different things, have different equipment, and be at different fitness levels. Knowing you're not going to please everyone, I would have liked to have seen maybe one beginner and one advanced workout suggested. They could have used exercises like pushups, sit-ups, jump squats, walking lunges... things that will get anyone fit and tired without equipment.

I began using it with kettlebells, and I also found it useful for keeping time in wrestling and boxing. We had used a handheld stopwatch in the past, but we had to break from the action to check the time. So, in both places, the Gym Boss has worked perfectly.

Overall, I'd recommend the Gym Boss to anyone who does high-intensity workouts where you need to keep track of time and rounds. I've gotten as much use out of it as any piece of equipment I've ever owned.

Have you tried the Gym Boss? Would you? Do you time your workouts?

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  • 47
    I'm buying for my interval running (graduating to going off treadmill to outdoor running, would anyone be willing to video chat with me and help me learn to set it up, I"ve read the instructions and can't make heads or tails of them? - 3/30/2017   6:16:01 PM
    I have had mine for about 3 months, I use it for working out with my kettlebells, taewondo drills and other things. I think it was well worth the money. Programing was a little difficult at first but now it is pretty easy. - 3/25/2011   11:35:43 PM
  • 45
    I love my GymBoss timer-I use it for run/walk intervals when doing miles outside-much easier to hear/feel it than my Garmin (which is a 305 so doesn't vibrate), especially when I'm using my iPod/headphones. - 3/24/2011   4:56:32 PM
  • 44
    I use one to keep track of walk/run intervals. Saves having to check a watch or other timer, which could be dangerous for a klutz like me - 3/24/2011   2:38:38 PM
  • 43
    I have had one for several years now and use it continually. I recommend all my clients get one since all of my cardio workouts are intervals and I advocate strength circuits over the standard sets and reps protocol. - 3/24/2011   2:34:14 PM
  • 42
    That's pretty neat! I just might invest in one when I start training outside! - 3/24/2011   12:57:23 PM
  • 41
    I would love the GymBoss. I do time my work outs. I do that with the clock, and it doesn't cost me anything, so I guess I really don't need the gym boss. - 3/24/2011   12:36:36 PM
  • BEEJ728
    I use the Gymboss for run/walk intervals. Changing the settings isn't intuitive so I saved the printed directions to refer to. I love the loud beep (can hear it on the busiest NY streets) and it is so nice to do my exercise without wondering if I've gotten off my intervals. - 3/24/2011   10:03:48 AM
    There is a Gymboss app available for download for the IPhone. I use it for my tabata workouts. Really like it, plus you can change the sounds which you can't do on the timer shown in the blog. I've used both and prefer the app. - 3/24/2011   9:42:05 AM
    Works great if you're doing the Jeff Galloway Running/Walking program too. - 3/24/2011   8:26:39 AM
  • 37
    After hearing about the GymBoss from other Spark-ers (secret of success, too), I asked my Mom for one for my birthday. Surprisingly, it had to be ordered - the sports stores do not carry them and hadn't heard of them. Since getting it, I have found doing the 5K training plans a breeze - I set the intervals and repeats, and I'm off and running (or walking, as the case may be)! I love it, and expect to get lots of use from it, even though I use a HRM as well. Can't wait to use it for strength training and circuit sessions. - 3/24/2011   12:52:48 AM
  • 36
    I bought the GymBoss as a gift to myself when I had maintained a 60 minute walking regimen and wanted to up it to include running. I love the little thing. When I started intervals initially I just had my stop watch and kept trying to look at it and run - not a good idea. The GymBoss just makes the entire interval running/walking that much easier. Easier makes it much more likely that I will get out there and do it.
    TerrBear - 3/23/2011   11:35:17 PM
    I have a GymBoss and love it. I still use my Garmin, but the Gymboss is great for making sure I don't miss any walk breaks when I'm out running. - 3/23/2011   7:15:01 PM
  • 34
    I love gadgets and I love interval training. I always have to check the watch and sometimes I miss my times and sometimes I miscalculate. It would be nice not to have to constantly look at the timer or secondhand at the gym or whatever. I will seriously consider this one if I don't end up getting a new Garmin Forerunner. - 3/23/2011   4:30:55 PM
  • 33
    I love my GymBoss. I am a fitness instructor and use it for work and home. I get easily frustrated with complicated gadgets and am not much of a cell phone person ( I hate touch screens), so I decided that this little device was worth the money for me. I used a regular kitchen timer for my interval training before this. GymBoss is great but I am probably a little more excited about it than the average person, since it's also a work tool.
    - 3/23/2011   2:28:31 PM
    At the bottm of the Gymboss web page, they list workouts by category, and have several workouts under each category that you can print off. - 3/23/2011   12:01:11 PM
  • 31
    They also have a free app that's gym boss. I love it for running - 3/23/2011   11:40:43 AM
  • 30
    I got a gymboss a few weeks ago after a suggestion on the 5k Your Way team page. It has worked wonders in helping me keep track of my intervals for my walk/jog training. If you go on the website to gymboss there are some workouts suggested with intervals you could try and incorporate. I haven't found it hard to set up or use at all. Plus I got the wrist strap so I can wear it on my wrist or upper arm as I train and the alarm is plenty loud enough for me to hear with my ipod on. - 3/23/2011   11:32:44 AM
  • 29
    I use an app for my iPod Touch called UltraTimer. I think I paid $1.99 for it. I like it because a) it was cheap, b) it plays nice with my music, c) I can set up a bunch of different time intervals, and choose different ones to compose a whole workout, d) it can keep workouts in memory so I don't have to set them up again, and e) lots of different sounds I can choose. Really the only con (if you already have an iPod anyway) is that high intensity workout intervals are not always very conducive to wearing an iPod. I usually plug it into a stereo. - 3/23/2011   11:30:53 AM
  • 28
    Gymboss is a nice little tool, although does not give you guidance on workouts or anything - it's just a timer. I use mine to time run/walk intervals, and a lot of Jeff Galloway-style runners I know have Gymbosses for this purpose too... - 3/23/2011   11:23:35 AM
  • 27
    My son said he has a FREE app for his Android phone that does the same thing. - 3/23/2011   11:16:51 AM
  • 26
    I just ordered one on Monday and now I'm excited to get it and try it out for interval running. I appreciate the warning about the learning curve so I don't get too frustrated when i first start. I can't wait!!!! - 3/23/2011   11:16:46 AM
    I use my baby g sports watch for runs and downloaded a free Interval Timer on my phone from the Droid market for my BodyRock (calistentics interval training) workouts. Works fine for me! - 3/23/2011   10:56:17 AM
  • JILBY5
    The article mentioned it doesn't come with workouts. I have one and it is great for Tabata (8 rounds of 20 seconds of work with 10 seconds of rest in between (google tabata training to find out more). Tabata can be done with any exercise, squats, sprints, wall climbers, etc. - 3/23/2011   10:39:12 AM
  • 23
    I use my GymBoss all the time. It can turn anything—even dancing in front of the TV or a walk around the neighborhood—into an interval workout. Two thumbs up! - 3/23/2011   10:00:02 AM
  • 22
    I use this online free timer http://www.beach-fitness.com/tabata
    / for my bodyrock.tv workouts - I find it works well for me - 3/23/2011   9:35:06 AM
  • 21
    I have a GymBoss that I use for interval running. I run upwards of 3 hours at a time using it. The setup out of the box was not difficult, but I do agree that the first couple of times using it can be a little confusing. But I LOVE it and would recommend it to anyone. It's the best $20 gadget I've ever purchased. - 3/23/2011   9:32:57 AM
  • 20
    A few of my Spark Friends have a gym boss and love it. I was looking for an interval timer for post-workout stretch timing in the Android market, and found the Tabata interval timer and My Interval Timer. Since both were free, I downloaded both to my Android phone and Galaxy tablet. For me, I found the Tabata timer simple to use, no extra bells and whistles. it does what I want it to do - and... it was FREE.

    When I was doing Couch to 5K training, I just downloaded the Robert Ullrey C25K podcasts to my iPod - he takes all the guesswork out of the intervals for training, has good music, and, again... FREE. - 3/23/2011   9:30:23 AM
    Best Gym Accessory Ever! It is great for Tabata training (killer workout method...try it!) and I also use it to set cardio intervals. Like that it vibrates, so I can still listen to my music and also not annoy others in the gym hearing "BEEP" every 20 seconds. I got mine and have started a trend at the gym. And we all got different colors, just for fun! Make exercise fun, but keep the work in it too. - 3/23/2011   9:28:11 AM
    I use my Gymboss everytime I do my run/walks. I have used it in every race I have done and I have a Garmin watch too. I don't even bother to set that for intervals. The Gymboss is small and inexpensive. - 3/23/2011   9:26:35 AM
    I see and hear lots of GymBosses (is that the plural for Gym Boss ;-) at many of the runs I participate in. Great tool for those who use an interval run/walk program. - 3/23/2011   9:11:20 AM
  • 16
    I'm 100% with Alexis, perfect use of a timer! :) Bodyrock is amazing. - 3/23/2011   9:10:29 AM
    I love my GymBoss! As far as workouts for it go - check out http://www.bodyrock.tv - 3/23/2011   9:05:15 AM
  • 14
    We've been using our GymBoss for years now when we work out in the pool. We just put it in a snack size zip top bag to protect it from splashes. It's set to beep every five minutes so we know to switch to the next exercise. Much better than counting reps and it allows us to actually talk while we're working out. We love it so much that we keep a spare in our suitcase for when we travel. - 3/23/2011   8:57:23 AM
  • 13
    In January, I started an run/walk interval training program for a 10k run in April. I usually train with a group and my leader has a Gymboss but myself and about 10 other runners bought our own and we LOVE them! I found it quite easy to operate and it takes ALL the guess work out of interval training (which was my biggest fear to begin with...not the actuall running!). I ran into a problem a couple weeks ago when my intervals did not all match (run 10 min, walk 1, run 20 min, walk 1, run 30 min, walk 1) but I just reset the timer during my 1 minute walk portion and estimated the 1 minute so not a big deal. My unit also tended to freeze (literally) but we were running outside in -10 C or colder so I don't blame it! If you clip it closer to your body it works just fine.

    There are quite a few workout suggestions and programs on the website (www,gymboss.com).

    Overall I think it's $20 very well spent! - 3/23/2011   8:46:36 AM
  • 12
    It says GymBoss.com right on it, so I looked up the website and they have a ton of workouts listed. Seems to me they did a great job of saving our natural resources. Will be looking for an app that does the same thing though. - 3/23/2011   8:44:30 AM
  • 11
    Sounds useful for lots of things, more than just exercising. Thanks, I'm going to check it out. - 3/23/2011   8:36:09 AM
  • 10
    Thanks for the review; I love your reviews! That said... first of all, I don't really know anybody who purchases a technical piece of equipment and expects it to come with a workout routine. My last Garmin didn't come with a running plan, either. Most people who are in the market for something like this timer already have an idea what they're going to use it for.

    Secondly, if you purchase an interval timer with a specific workout in mind, you also already know what kind of information you'll need to provide during setup. That's always the same, no matter if you use a physical timer, a website timer, or an app (which I do - it's the KISS principle). Sure that may look like a lot at first glance, but the learning curve shouldn't exactly be too steep on that.

    Personally, I don't time my workouts except for BodyRock (which provides all the interval info for you, just plug it in) and the C25K program, but I downloaded the app for that so that I can use the GPS and music features, as well. - 3/23/2011   8:30:49 AM
  • 9
    I have a GymBoss and love it! I was using interval timers online when I worked out at home, and borrowing a regular stopwatch at the gym, but it was getting increasingly hard to both workout and pay attention to the stopwatch. With this, I can focus completely on my workout! - 3/23/2011   8:18:36 AM
  • 8
    I have a free app for my Android phone that does the same thing. For running, there are apps that have customizable interval features that are also free, that also track you via GPS, play music, etc. I don't need this little thing. - 3/23/2011   8:15:05 AM
  • 7
    I also use the timer for running, and it works great for setting up walk/run intervals. The vibrate feature is nice when you are working out to music. I can see it being very useful with weight lifting when I progress to a point where I want to do a particular exercise for a period of seconds. I just do reps right now. - 3/23/2011   8:04:47 AM
  • 6
    Thank you Alley Cat 65! I started training, too and I cannot do the math with my stopwatch after about 10 minutes of my walk/run. I wouldn't have understaood that the original timer would not work well for that purpose. - 3/23/2011   8:03:18 AM
  • 5
    When I went to getgymboss.com and picked mine up I wasn't sure if this could be as cool as everyone says. I got to say I love it. Its seems stupid but when that thing vibrates, it just pushes me like a trainer. The first time is slightly confusing, but the learning curve is short. 5 minutes tops, and you'll have this thing solved. - 3/23/2011   8:02:01 AM
  • 4
    We also started using the GymBoss to step up our normal weight lifting sessions by setting 1-minute intervals and alternating between sets of strength training and 1-minute of jump-rope. After a 30 minute session you're spent and have had a great cardio, anaerobic and strength training session! - 3/23/2011   7:59:18 AM
  • 3
    No! I do not time my workouts? and I am not a person who likes to spend that much time setting the BymBoss so will stick to my step counter which I can handle with ease. - 3/23/2011   7:29:10 AM
  • 2
    I purchased the original GymBoss specifically for the C25K program and it works great for only 2 intervals. When the program changed to 90 second/3 minute intervals (4 intervals total), I actually bought the GymBoss Max. This allows up to 25 intervals and also lets you repeat intervals of the same length up to 99 times (plus you can save up to 15 different programs!). Unless you know you will ALWAYS be doing only 2 intervals, spend the extra $10 and get the GymBoss Max!! - 3/23/2011   7:03:49 AM
  • 1
    I thought that I wanted a GymBoss for years, but there are websites with flash based interval timers that do the same thing..for free. - 3/23/2011   5:56:54 AM

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