My sexual performance is one of the few aspects of my life I don’t subject to brutal internal scrutiny. I like what I do and I’m sticking to it. This doesn’t mean I’m not willing to learn a thing or two, though, and now that technology has invaded just about every aspect of our lives, I figured there had to be a way to extract some meaningful data from a round of intercourse. If the Apple Watch can save lives and Siri can make distress calls, why can’t a device analyze what’s going down in the bedroom?
Enter the Motiv ring, a fitness tracker that’s so small you can wear it on your finger. Just like other fitness trackers, it keeps tabs on your heart rate, how well you’re sleeping, and other vitals. The fine folks at Motiv gave me a chance to wear this inconspicuous—albeit stylish—black ring to help me learn a little bit about what’s happening with my body as I’m getting intimate with my wife. I gladly took them up on the offer.
So, how does it work? Unlike fitness apps that require you to press a button to start recording your activity, the Motiv ring automatically tracks your vitals as soon as it senses movement, which you can then read through Motiv’s app. If you twist the ring while it’s on your finger, it syncs with the app and gives you a chance to read your stats in real time.
“Motiv's app is not optimized for sex,” says Motiv spokesperson Emma Esrock. “You'd have to manually add the activity, however it should capture heart rate peaks and valleys during intercourse.”
Because I’ve done to my body with far more distracting pieces of machinery, my wife had no problem with me bringing this inoffensive little ring into the bedroom—probably because the alternative of taping my phone to my chest wasn’t particularly sexy.
For our Motiv experiment, we decided we wouldn’t do anything too out of the ordinary, but we also wanted to make sure to get a good workout. After I slipped on the ring, we lured the dog outside, took off our clothes, and proceeded to turn our bedroom into a sex gym. We did it all: hand stuff, mouth stuff, butt stuff, and regular stuff. She did the thing I liked, I did the thing she liked, and together we did our usual three-position routine that gets us from fired-up to molten-hot in about 15 minutes.
As we were going at it, I tried to keep a sliver of my thoughts on my heart rate to determine if the data on the little screen would match the projected data in my head. My wife must have noticed my eyes were drifting, because she playfully pinched my nipple, which pretty quickly brought my back into the moment. All in all, the Motiv ring didn’t affect my sexual performance in the slightest. I assume the wedding ring on my other finger got me used to wearing jewellery during sex.
After we finished up, cleaned off, and jumped in the shower, I synced my ring up with the app.
While there are definitely some kinks that need to be worked out of the iPhone app—like the confusing display—it wasn’t difficult to input my activity. As no “sex” option is available, I was told by the developers that logging intercourse as “cardio” would deliver the results I was looking for.
So, what were the results? Pretty much what I expected: From 12:20 p.m. to 12:50 p.m., I engaged in a “cardio” activity with “maxed out” effort, which elevated my heart rate to a noticeable peak before dropping to a consistent valley. The low heart rate corresponded with the six or seven minutes I went down on her, while the sharp incline synced up with our mutual journey towards orgasm. After we came, a slow-and-steady heart rate valley suggested a relaxed, blissful post-coital state, which I can confirm.
What did I learn? Nothing new about my sex life or performance, but I did find myself impressed with the ring and dumbfounded that such a small piece of technology could produce such a detailed set of data. I even ended up consulting with multi-certified sex educator Anne Hodder to try and gain a little more insight into what specifically happens to my body during sex.
“It's difficult to apply a specific number of calories to 20 minutes of sex,” says Hodder. “Estimates say men on average burn 101-ish calories during a full session—which as we know can be anything from 3 to 20 minutes. Just keep in mind that if your main goal for getting busy is to simply add another 200-plus calories to your daily workout, maybe rethink your intentions.”
Clinical sexologist, certified sex coach, accredited sex educator, and ambassador to the American Sexual Health Association Sunny Rodgers was kind enough to break it down by sex act.
“Let’s just say a couple burns 100 calories every time they have sex,” says Rodgers. “If they have sex approximately three times each week they can burn over 15,000 calories a year without ever visiting the gym. Fellatio burns an estimated 24 calories per hour. Nibbling can burn 28 calories per hour. Noisy sex play can burn 5 calories per moan. A deep, screaming orgasm can burn 24 calories in addition to the orgasm calories. Heavy petting can burn 90 calories in an hour. Sex itself burns about 101 calories for men and 69 calories for women. Clitoral Orgasm? About 52 calories per orgasm.”
Compare this to the calories I burn during a full workout—around 400-500 if I’m going hard—and I’d happily have sex four or five times in lieu of going to the gym.
It’s a lot of information, but I was still left with a sense of yearning. Modern fitness trackers are only a little over a decade old, and they’ve already managed to contain their technology into something that can slip over a finger. What is fitness-tracking technology going to look like in another ten years? What will the next version of the Motiv ring look like? Will they be able to read our thoughts? Control how our bodies move? Tell us precisely how much blood is flowing into the penis when we're erect? We’ll have to wait and see, but when the future does arrive I know I'll gladly volunteer some more time in the bedroom if it means I get to learn a little bit more about how my body works.