Going where no other Bluetooth headphone has gone before.
As anyone who's played a sport knows, your game day ritual is sacred. Whether you need to always wear the same pair of socks or drink a Coke or listen to the same warmup song, there are things you don't mess with.
Music has long been part of my personal game day ritual when warming up for roller derby games, but the iPhone era has made that ritual kind of a pain in recent years. It's kind of hard to focus on getting low and feeling your skates when you're also worried about accidentally flinging your $700 device out of your hands.
After one almost-disaster early on in my derby career, I switched to an old iPod Shuffle and wired EarPods for my warmup routine, but that begat other problems — remembering to bring my Shuffle, for one, and make sure it was charged. It added more hassle to days that needed to be hassle-free.
When Bluetooth sport earbuds became more prevalent, I was initially hopeful that something like the PowerBeats would do the trick, but the side earpiece was too bulky for my hockey helmet's ear shields; they sort of fit under my current S1 helmet, but I have to take off the helmet completely to put on the earphones, and do the same to remove them.
I'd just about given up on listening to music wirelessly during my warmup — and then came the AirPods. Their tiny shape makes them a perfect candidate for slipping into my ears during warmups without having to remove any of my gear, and my helmet keeps them in place easily while I skate. And thanks to their lengthy Bluetooth range, I can put my iPhone by our bench, do laps, and never worry about losing my connection. (And if I'm skating somewhere without my iPhone, I can just load up music on my Apple Watch, instead.)
I tried this before practice last night, and it was the easiest music-related warmup experience I'd had since starting roller derby. No worrying about expensive equipment or bringing extra nonsense — just pop in an AirPod and start skating. Bliss.
Though I've had no problems with loose AirPods while skating as of yet, I am considering picking up one of those Spigen AirPods straps just in case of high-speed ear ejection — but it shouldn't interfere with the basic ease of use the AirPods present when skating with a helmet.
In short: I'm finding new ways of appreciating my AirPods everywhere I go — especially when I'm on wheels.