This tiny tracker is more than a little different from the others I tried. It measures heart rate, but it also can calculate respiratory rate, heart rate variability and blood oxygen saturation (SpO2). These values can determine both your overall health and your stress levels, and Tinké uses them to calculate two unique scores: Zen (relaxation) and Vita (fitness).
Tinké ($119) does let you track weight, but since I only get on the scale when I need to make sure I’ll be in the correct weight class for a competition, I was much more interested in tracking my Zen and Vita. And as I had severe childhood asthma, I am all too familiar with getting my blood oxygen saturation — and curious as to how my adult levels measured up.
My asthma is almost completely under control now, but more intense activity (like using a fan bike or doing kettlebell snatches) can really get me breathing heavily. And sometimes when I start to gasp for air, I also start to panic, since I associate this with having an asthma attack. It’s both unpleasant and counterproductive, as I need to be able to work through this feeling when I’m competing. By tracking my breathing rate and my SpO2, I can see how many breaths I’m taking a minute, as well as the amount of oxygen in my red blood cells at any given time. Over time, this shows how my fitness is improving (as I need to take fewer breaths with the same activity level); I also found it helpful to reassure myself that I didn’t actually need to stop and catch my breath, but could keep going even when I felt like a fish on land.
Although I mainly used Tinké to track my Vita Index, I was fascinated by the Zen analysis. This feature has you complete a one-minute controlled breathing exercise, then indicates your level of relaxation. I’m good at amping up, and not so good at winding down, so I found Zen very soothing and a good reminder to chill out. By focusing on my breathing, I was able to feel more calm and, well, Zen in 60 seconds.
Tinké is a petite device that plugs into your iOS or Android phone; you gently press your thumb to the device’s sensor to measure your fitness (or stress) levels. This was the only sticking point I encountered, which is totally on me, not Tinké; I have my phone in a waterproof case, and Tinké’s connector didn’t quite fit inside the port. But it was worth it to me to wrangle my phone out of its case for the opportunity to check my SpO2 and find my Zen.