Review: The Nike Imara Heart Rate Monitor

By Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am — Filed under:

Nike Imara HRMI got a Nike Imara Heart Rate Monitor for Christmas last year, but I haven’t done a review for it. Want to know why?

I don’t like to give bad reviews.

I only write one entry a day on Starling Fitness. I’d rather not waste the entry talking about things that don’t live up to my expectations.

Yet, it’s almost a year later and I’m finally writing a review. What changed?

Nothing. The reason why I hate my Nike Imara is the same. It doesn’t work with my treadmill. I can exercise on my bike and have no problems. I can play DDR and have no problems. I can weight train and no problems. I can even run on a treadmill at the gym with no problems, but it constantly runs into interference on my treadmill at home. The treadmill is my favorite exercise device, so when I realized that my brand new spiffy heart rate monitor didn’t work with it, I hated it.

J-Mat Heart RateThat didn’t stop me from wearing it, though. It’s a watch that looks good enough that I can wear it every day. I wore it to CES and used it to measure my heart rate when I tested the exercise toys there. I used it every time I played DDR or rode my bike. I stubbornly even wear it every time I run on my treadmill with the pathetic hope that, “Maybe this time it will work…”

I love how it tracks my calories and how much time I exercise in the low, medium and high ranges. I love that it’s water resistant up to 50M, so if I’m lazy, I don’t even have to take it off when I shower. In fact, I’ve been wearing my Nike Imara almost constantly ever since I got it. That is unheard of for me, since I used to change watches like jewelry.

That’s when I realized that I love my Nike Imara.

It still doesn’t work whenever I run on my treadmill, but it has been a watch that’s a good friend for almost a year now. It’s so rare for me to find a watch that I enjoy that when I finally found one, it took me 10 months to realize that I actually loved it.


  • Time and Date on the same screen – The date shows the day of the week and the date (not the year or month).

  • Dual Time – If I hold down a button, the watch switches to a second time zone.

  • Watch Light – I feel silly for mentioning this, but you would not believe that number of women’s watches that DON’T have a light. Do they think I’m not allowed out after dark? I use my watch to tell time in the middle of the night because I’m so blind I can’t see the clock five inches away from my face. A watch light is essential to me and lack of it is a deal breaker.

  • Chronograph (Stopwatch) – Displays workout time and will show calories, heart rate or heart rate percentage (toggle with the start button).

  • Interval Timer – Also called a countdown timer. I love this feature on other watches, but I hate it on this one because the beep is so quiet that I usually miss it.

  • Data – It will store the data from your last workout until you clear it on the chronograph.

  • Alarm – Works like any other watch, except the beep is so soft that you’ll probably miss it.


51 Responses to “Review: The Nike Imara Heart Rate Monitor”

  1. Eh... not so much Says:

    I have the same one and I really like it too. It is definitely good-looking enough to wear as a watch around town. I haven’t actually tried the interval feature yet. It is very susceptible to crosstalk from other HRM’s, so using it during spin class is VERY difficult.

    At some point I may graduate to one of the fancy Polar ones that tell you how often and how hard to work out to keep a certain fitness level, but for the price (I paid $80-90 on Amazon) it can’t be beat.

  2. Ian Burton Says:

    Laura Thanks for the useful review. How does it work, no mention of a chest strap why does it discriminate women’s heart beat? Does it have a remote sensor for $70 dollars? In England RRP is £100. Ian

  3. Laura Moncur Says:


    The heart rate chest strap comes with the watch. The reason it’s a women’s watch is because it’s slightly smaller than a men’s watch. It’s plenty masculine enough for a man, though. It doesn’t do anything different with the calorie calculation or heart rate monitoring than the men’s watch.

    How does it work? You put on the chest strap and it starts giving you data about your heart rate. Unlike the Timex, you can’t turn off heart rate monitoring unless you take off the chest strap. I actually liked the way Timex did it better because I could save my batteries without reaching under my shirt to take off the strap. Use a little KY Jelly lubricant to get a better reading.

    Good luck, Laura Moncur

  4. Jennifer Says:

    I was excited to see your review. I’m looking for a heart rate monitor too and I’m an avid treadmill user. So just to clarify – when you’re on the treadmill at home, the watch doesn’t pick up what the chest strap is sending? Which treadmill do you have?



  5. Laura Moncur Says:


    I have a NordicTrack 4300 R treadmill. This treadmill features a heart rate monitoring system that uses their own proprietary system. You have to buy their heart rate strap for an extra 100 bucks. I think that might be what it is interfering with the Nike HRM.

    On the plus side, the Nike HRM will work with machines that pick up Polar signals. The exercise machines at my gym use that system and I can set it to do a heart rate workout without holding the handles the whole time. It reads the heart rate from my Nike chest strap. That is cool and totally unexpected.

    Good luck, Laura Moncur Starling Fitness

  6. lyn bigret Says:

    I am so frustrated with the heart rate monitor. I’ve had several others and this one is a bear to program. I’m taking it back to the store because of how ridiculous it is to figure out..

  7. Lynn Says:

    I just got this watch. It doesn’t count my calories at rest like while driving or sitting on the couch, but it does work while exercising. Is it broken? Also, I think the calorie count is low when exercising. After an hour on the spinning bike, I only burned 400 calories at an average bpm of 150 and I’m 31 and 120lbs. Does that seem correct? I would expect around 600 calories burned. Maybe that’s why after sitting on the couch for 20 minutes, it didn’t register any calories burned.

  8. Suzette Says:

    I have lost my manual and chest strap. Can you buy just the strap? If so, where? Also, does anyone have the manual they can email me?


  9. Monica Says:

    Hi! I just purchased a new Imara HRM on ebay. Unfortuneately there were no enclosed instructions. I have been trying to figure it out, and I saw the HRM part, but I am DESPERATELY in search of instructions or a manual. I have searched and searched the web, tried the local sports store, still with no luck. I was hoping someone on here that has it, might be able to healp me out in some way. I would SO appreciate it! Thanks SO much in advance!

  10. Brooke Says:


    I just bought a Nike Imara on ebay too, mine had instructions even though there wasn’t much to it. I could email them to you if you want to email me at brookeinindy@hotmail.com

  11. Brooke Says:

    Sorry, for some reason it didn’t post the website address so here it is… Nike Imara Manual

  12. Laura Moncur Says:


    Thank you so much for posting the Nike Imara Manual link! You’re a doll!

    Laura Moncur

  13. mona Says:

    I want a watch to wear as a pedometer. Will this watch caculate steps and miles? Thanks,

  14. Laura Moncur Says:


    No, it doesn’t. You’ll have to got with the Polar watch instead:

    Polar S625X Heart Rate Monitor Watch

    This one comes with a foot pod, heart rate monitor and watch. You can also transfer your data to your PC so you can easily keep track of your workouts.

  15. e Says:

    Hi Gals, I realy liked the watch at first, the deseign the functionality but the wrist band is just awful it got torn realy quickly and got stained, realy a bummer won’t buy it again…

  16. Laura Moncur Says:


    Nike is notorious for making GREAT watches with crappy (and irreplaceable) bands. They need to figure out how to fix that problem.


  17. Jill Says:

    Hi. Thanks for the reviews. I have been wearing this HRM for almost 2 years and I love it. The problem I am having is that I need to get a new chest strap- just the elastic part…any ideas where I can get one?

    thanks! Jill

  18. Laura Moncur Says:

    Getting parts for any Nike products has proven difficult. I’m pretty angry at Nike right now because I can’t purchase bands for Michael’s Nike watches. I had a frustrating Friday learning that it’s basically impossible to get a watch band.

    A new part for the heart rate monitor? Abandon all hope…

  19. Stephaie Scott Says:

    I just purchased the Imara HRM and I love it except for the fact that the calorie’s burned seems low. I know I can wear the watch in the water, what about the strap? Thanks, Stephanie

  20. Laura Moncur Says:


    As long as you have inputed your weight in correctly, I haven’t found another HRM that measures calories more accurately.

    I haven’t tried to use the HRM strap in the swimming pool. If it works for you, please come back here and tell everyone whether it works.

    Best, Laura

  21. Jonathon Says:

    i have this same watch, however, the elastic band is too small for my chest. When i wear the HRM i feel as though i am going to pass out because it is extremely too tight. Where could i buy a new one?

    thank you so much


  22. Laura Moncur Says:


    It looks like Nike is using Parsec Enterprises to supply watchbands and HRM straps.

    I haven’t used these folks, so I don’t know if they are reputable, but if you really need a strap, you can try them. If it works for you, please return and comment so others will know whether they can trust Parsec.

    Best, Laura

  23. Catherine Says:

    This is a very informative forum! I am looking to buy either the Nike Imara or the Polar F4, as both are similarly small and light. I thought the CD that comes with the Nike Imara’s package is some sort of software that analyzes your workout data? How does the Nike software compare with the Polar F4’s software?

  24. Laura Moncur Says:

    My Nike Imara didn’t come with a CD. They might now, but based on the size of the boxes they come in, I doubt it.

  25. Catherine Says:

    WOw, that’s a quick response, Laura, it comes with the CD, I saw the actual product in the store. Have you heard anything about the software?

  26. Theresa Says:

    The Nike Imara enclosed CD only has an advertising film about the HRM – nothing about software enclosed.

    I like the watch – only had it for 2 weeks and managed to get it for £35 from ebay brand new

  27. Susie Says:

    Hi, I had a Polar A5 but after years of use its finally dying on me. I was looking at this one but I was wondering if its like my old Polar in the sense that you put in your stats (age weight sex height etc) and then it sets your “limits” (lower and upper heart rate zone) for you?

    Also – can you see the calories your burning as youre working out?

    Last but not least, do you ever get funky readings from it – like extremly high or low crazy readings or is it fairly fluid and accurate?

    Thanks for the review – it really help me narrow my options (o:

  28. Laura Moncur Says:


    Yes, if you put in your age, it will calculate the heart rate zones for you. You can also change them to be whatever you want.

    Yes, you can see the calories burned as you are working out. While it is in chronograph mode, you press the start button again to cycle through the various readings at your disposal.

    Yes, I get funky readings from it (mostly really low readings). After I started using KY Jelly on the heart rate monitor, that problem mostly went away.

    Best, Laura

  29. Bridget Says:

    Hi I am looking to possibly buy this heart rate monitor and I and want to make sure that this one does not have too big of a face on the watch. Could someone please give me some measurements of the face? Thanks!

  30. Alison Says:

    Is there a heart rate monitor for swimming that someone can recommend that I do not have to worry about pressing a button while underwater? Thanks

  31. Ramora Says:

    Costco in the USA is selling these for $35 now. Just got one yesterday. For the price, I love it!

    Programming is a bit on the complex side, but not impossible. With a little bit of patience, and some careful reading of VERY tiny text (try a magnifying glass!), the unit is fairly easily programmed.

    I’m really interested in swimming with the unit, but I’m chicken. Has anyone tried it yet?

  32. Ivanka Says:

    Just purchsed the IMARA HRM at Costco for $35.00 and was checking reviews to see if it was worth opening the package. Looks like not a bad deal for $35.00. Thanks!

  33. Christi Says:


    I am on my way this evening to purchase this at Costco, after work.

    Ramora, I too use heartrate monitors in the pool often. This means that it is important to make sure that it is waterproof/resistant.

    According to Amazon,

    Water resistance 50 meters (150 feet): It is wearable around household sinks, while playing sports, and in shallow water. It should not be worn while scuba diving. Water resistance 100 meters (333 feet): It is wearable around household sinks, while playing sports, and while swimming or poolside diving. It should not be worn while scuba diving.

    Water resistance 300 meters (990 feet): It is wearable around household sinks and while playing sports, swimming, and scuba diving at depths not requiring helium gas.

    This watch is 50m.

    Hope that helps.

  34. Teri Says:

    I got the nike watch at Costco for $36 last week after my free Polar F6 got water in it from swimming (free from Coke Rewards).

    Here is some information I can share with everyone… I swam with the nike watch, but I was careful not to push any buttons as instructed in the manual. (I never read the polar manual). The nike watch did not get any water in it. I bet I pushed the polar watch buttons while swimming.

    The nike watch – looks much better than the polar watch – much thinner and more feminine.

    The nike chest strap and the polar chest strap can be interchanged – I was wearing the nike one when I was testing out the polar watch to see if it was working yet. I think eventually it will be fine once the water gets dries out – slowly more functions are working.

    I think I like the polar watch better while swimming because I can see my heart rate and calories burned on the same screen. The nike watch has the time on every screen & either the Heart Rate or Calories burned, but not both at once.

    Hope this helps someone, as this page has helped me.

  35. Helen Says:

    i just purchased this at costco for 19.99 i’m loving it so far.

  36. Marge Says:

    HI! I wanted to ask if this HRM watch can read your heart rate even without the chest strapped on to you and the calories you are burning? Thanks in advance….

  37. Laura Moncur Says:


    No, you MUST wear the chest strap in order for it to read the heart rate. Additionally, it won’t log your heart rate unless you’re in the Chrono screen. If you switch back to the time, it will continue counting on the stopwatch, but it won’t log your calories burned or your heart rate. That’s kind of irritating, but after all these years, I still use this HRM more than ANY other I’ve bought.


  38. Jessica Says:

    I just got this from ebay 4 days ago, I got very luck and paid on $15 with shipping. So far I am loving it, I was amazed to see the difference in what this HRM showed as my calories burned and what my elliptical trainer said, It was almost 150 less on the HRM for 40 minutes.

    My only concern is that it seem to read about 20 to 30 bpm too high. I have been doing the KY jelly thing so I’m not sure if there is anything else I can do. Do you think this makes a big difference in the calories burned? Let me know, thanks.

  39. Laura Moncur Says:


    If the heart rate is reading too high, you would think that it would show you as burning MORE calories. I have had really good success with the Imara. Trust its calorie readings over any cardio machine.


  40. Linda Says:

    For the most part my Nike Imara seems accurate. There have been 2 incidents where it gave wildly high readings in my spin class- ie 230 bpm 158% max heart rate- yet, at the end of the class, the recovery rate was right on target. Today, however, the same thing happened. I felt it might be picking up other signals.I switched wrists as I was riding. On the left wrist it read 175 bpm – the right wrist said 106 bpm- i did this a few times. The readings on each wrist was vastly different. Since I really depend on monitoring my heart rate, this is really disconcerting. Any thoughts?

  41. Laura Moncur Says:


    The Nike Imara DOES have problems with crosstalk, so if you’re getting readings that don’t match how you feel, you might want to switch wrists or change bikes.

    I tend to exercise alone and not in classes, so I’ve only had that experience once, but I can see how that could happen often if you go to classes.

    Best, Laura

  42. Jen Says:

    Hi, I’ve had my Nike HRM for about 7 months now and I LOVE it. But…for the past few days, it doesn’t beep anymore when I press the buttons. Is there a way to turn off the beep feature or should I assume my battery is going dead? Everything works fine…it just doesn’t beep anymore…at all..even when my HR is too high or too low. Thanks for your help! Jen

  43. Laura Moncur Says:

    I don’t remember mine ever beeping when I pushed the buttons. There was an annoying alarm that went off when my heart rate went above the high number that I turned off.

    I’ve looked through my whole watch and I can’t see a setting to turn on beeps. I have a new battery, but this watch is over three years old, so it might be formatted differently than yours.

  44. Dawn Says:

    HI! I just got my Nike Imara today (got a good deal on ebay or so I thought). I got it all programmed with my info and all but everytime I go to activate the start/view button in the Chro setting nothing happens…the stopwatch doesn’t start running. It shows my heart rate effectively but I cannot toggle from calories burned back to heart rate. I think I got a dud : ( Hoping maybe someone here can tell me if I am doing something wrong…if not I definitely have to return it but I hope not because I really like it otherwise. Thanks so much!

  45. David Says:

    Has anyone tried to use this watch with a Polar Strap? Considering the Nike Strap works with Polar compatible machines, I’m hoping this watch will work with a standard Non-Codes T31 Polar strap.

  46. Laura Moncur Says:


    I haven’t tried it with a Polar strap. If you find out the answer to this, PLEASE come back here and tell the rest of us whether it works or not.

    Laura Moncur

  47. Cathleen Says:

    Has anyone tried using the stopwatch function without the heartrate monitor? I am running a marathon tomorrow and can’t wear the chest strap that long, but really want to use the stopwatch. When I try to go to the chrono mode, the three lines just blink where the HR would be. Is there any way around this? Any help is appreciated!

    Thanks! Cathleen

  48. Rossy Says:

    Hello, I hope this thread is still alive! I have the nike Imara and a couple weeks ago it started acting strangely so I replaced the batteries. I thought that would fix it, but it’s stilll strange! It basically will either not want to pick up signal from my strap or if it does it will say my hr is 240 or something insane… While I’m laying down… Needless to sya my info output is all off and I’m very sad… Does Nike offer any support or will they fix it?? HELP!

  49. Audra Says:

    I am using the Amara with a POLAR strap and am getting readings, however, they are very high. I am worried that the strap and watch are incompatible and am going to try to find another chest strap. The Nike strap just died on me after replacing its battery

  50. Cindi Says:

    Can anyone tell me what kind of battery it takes?

  51. Ann Says:

    I’ll comment on the treadmill problem. I don’t have this watch, but several others. Treadmills in gyms will generally work with this band as well as Polar, Sigma and other no-name bands. But home treadmills is another story. It’s not the watch, it’s the treadmill. It gives off electronic interference that the watch reads, and that’s why it either doesn’t work or gives off wrong readings. Search for heart rate monitor treadmill interference. Especially read the forum where they complain treadmills freeze DVR playback. Same problem, different gadget. Look at that forum for solutions – for minimizing the problem (changing electric outlets and other ways to minimize interference). I was advised to buy a coded watch. Dud advice. It’s just as bad. With one treadmill, I could find a spot on the treadmill and strap the watch on there, and it would show correct heart rate, except when the speed goes up or down. If I position the watch in the wrong place, it won’t work or will occasionally give wrong readings. Other treadmills are worse, and it won’t work at all. Try starting the watch and band before starting the treadmill, that will work with some watches. Supposedly the watches featuring digital bands will not be susceptible to this interference, but the Timex watches supposedly will malfunction if you wear micro fiber clothes, so keep that in mind if you go that way.

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