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Ruby and his team spent several days and thousands of dollars measuring energy expenditure and core temperature among the test subjects, only to lose 30 percent of their data to faulty equipment. Such problems have bedeviled exercise physiology researchers when they take their experiments into the field, where conditions are unpredictable and instruments “When people say, ‘ that designed for the lab often fail. exercise in the heat causes this,’ “We’ve collected all this data using We are the they.” equipment that other people have developed, and they’ve developed it incredibly poorly,” Ruby says. “It’s not knows how it feels to run out of wind acceptable to pay what we’ve paid for in a race, and understanding it as a some of these pieces of equipment and consequence of glycogen and ATP and have 30 percent data loss.” metabolic water only sharpens his enthuThe receiver unit siasm. It’s the kind of enthusiasm that for the core temperadrives a man to put thermometers in ture sensor that I took people and throw them into a sauna, into the heat chamber, and the kind of enthusiasm that leads for example, cost those people to let him. $4,000, and it was not The treadmill in the heat chamber is comfortable. Ruby the first one I have set foot on in nine believes there is a commonths. I am well acclimated to heat, munication gap thanks to the cheerful torturers at Hot between the people House Yoga, but my cardio is poor. It’s who design physiologmy dirty little exercise secret, but there it is on Ruby’s tablet: my heart rate climbing ical measurement devices and the scienas my core temperature holds steady, all tists who use them in of it factoring into a number that tells the their research. assembled scientists exactly how much “The problem is, suffering I am trying to hide. I am sweatengineers and business ing a lot now—kind of a disgusting people don’t know shit amount, which Ruby says is good. It about the research,” he means I’m used to this kind of thing, says. “There needs to but aerobic fitness is more important be a communication than heat acclimation. triangle within that “If you were going to pick one thing to group. Why can’t we equip yourself with before you go into the be that person? Why heat—hiking, typical military training— can’t we do that work? then aerobic fitness is going to be your That’s why we formed strongest ally,” he says. It’s the flaw in my the PhysioZing comexercise routine, expressed as scientific pany.” principle and embodied in my gross, increasingly miserable self, all of it captured on Ruby’s ingenious machine. hysioZing is the Ruby’s machine grew out of one of corporation his most prominent studies, which Ruby, Cuddy examined the effects of heat stress on and Hailes formed to wildland firefighters. He followed enter what Ruby calls dozens of them into the Colorado “the commercial mountains and monitored their core space,” where their temperatures as they worked, using the research might translate into products for same internal sensors I took with me into both the research and exercise communithe chamber. It was the kind of real-world ties. It’s primarily a vehicle for developing study he had long wanted to perform, and marketing the other sensor device that but from a practical standpoint it was also I wear into the heat chamber—the one that a disaster. I don’t have to insert in a body cavity. high as 12 times. Some people have energy expenditures of 19,000 calories in 24 hours.” That study covered the Western States 100, a 100-mile mountain-trail run. Ruby is attracted to such grueling events, both as an athlete and as a researcher. He

They say who’s

the they?


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“That’s the working prototype,” Ruby says. It’s a rectangular black box about the size of a headlamp, held in place over my heart by an elastic band. As I walk on the treadmill, trying to act like heat and exercise are not utterly antithetical to my values, it relays data to Ruby’s Android tablet via Bluetooth. Unlike the internal temperature sensor, it’s reusable. It’s also more reliable than the sensors Ruby and his team have worked with in the past; it doesn’t fall out or lose radio frequency integrity or dump a third of its data after the experiment is over. It simply gathers its data from outside my body—I cannot overemphasize the value of this feature—and sends it to a consumer electronic device, which converts it to a score. That score, along with the convenience of Bluetooth and Android integration, is the product that PhysioZing is selling. It measures the effect of heat on my body at the moment, but more importantly, it tells Ruby and his team how likely I am to suffer a heat injury in the future. Heat injuries, from cramps to exhaustion to death, occur when core temperature gets unusually high. Unfortunately, measuring core temperature is expensive and unpleasant, and as a metric it’s slow to respond. Once core temperature gets too high, it’s too late to prevent injury. The system PhysioZing has designed allows coaches and trainers to forecast. “If you’re going down the wrong path, we know within 10 minutes,” Ruby says. In that time, his system can assess which subjects won’t be able to maintain their present levels of work for the next 90 minutes. “We can tell early on the person who’s Ellen Ruby going to have a normal response and the person who’s going to have a heat injury. And we don’t have to put anything in the person, which is a huge benefit.” Ruby and his team hope to market their injury-prediction system to running events

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