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The Spark Activity keep or not to keep...

Sunday, September 29, 2013

This is what I have recorded in my fitness minute notes this week regarding my first week using the Spark Activity Tracker. I am an avid HRM (Polar RS200) user and I do a variety of fitness activities.

Sunday, September 22, 2013
On Friday I received the new Spark Activity Tracker. Yesterday and today I've just worn the tracker to get used to it and see how it syncs and offloads data. I've mainly worn in on my bra strap since it is the weekend and I am not wearing shoes. The tracker was easy to set up and the offload happens any time I am near my lap top. The tracker only records data when I move. It records nothing when I am just sitting or standing, or when I am sleeping. We all know that calories are always burning, even at rest. I thought the tracker would give me calorie credit for just being...but I guess not. I don't own a Fitbit, but I have always assumed that device recording information for when you are "at rest" since it tracks sleep patterns. Maybe not.

Monday, September 23, 2013
Today I tracked my first workout using the Spark Tracker. I walked at 3 mph for 60 minutes on a treadmill with a 30% incline. My Polar tracked 379 calories burned, but the Tracker only gave me credit for 205. I expected this, and I am disappointed that the SP site will not allow me to edit fitness minutes or calories burned for workouts recorded by the Spark Tracker.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Today's workout is something I do often, and I must say, I don't like the way the Tracker recorded it. The workout is intervals of running on my treadmill 4 MPH at a 1% incline for 1-2 minutes mixed with lifting heavy weights for 1 minute. The total workout was 35 minutes, but because the Tracker was on my shoe, and none of my foot motion was 10 minutes or longer, the tracker did not recognize the activity as fitness minutes. The tracker gave me credit for 316 calories burned for the entire day, so far. My Polar recorded 331 calories burned for the 35 minute workout alone.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013
I am wearing the Tracker 24 hours per day, except when I shower. I'm not sure why, other than to track steps. Tracking steps is not something I generally do...and this is a pretty expensive pedometer.

Today's workout was an interval run/walk through the streets of downtown. I am pleased that the Tracker picked up exactly that. The Tracker gave me 407 calories burned, 432 according to my cardio trainer app, and a whopping 860 according to my Polar. It was HOT out there! The Spark Tracker recorded 4.6 miles, and the cardio trainer app tracked 4.1 miles. This discrepancy is likely because I sometimes have to wait to cross streets. I keep my feet moving, but I'm not moving in terms of distance. I will have to do a distance comparison again on a run where there aren't a lot of starts and stops.

Thursday, September 26, 2013
Today's workout was 60 minutes of RIPPED. This workout covers it all, Resistance, Intervals, Power, Plyometrics, Endurance and Abs. The Tracker called this a run/walk/cycle event and gave me credit for 45 minutes and a measly 75 calories. My Polar ticked off 558 calories in that 60 minutes. The Tracker was on my shoe, and in some segments of this workout, the feet are firmly planted and the arms are doing all the work, so the tracker didn't know I was still moving.

Oh boy...just went back and looked at today's Tracker stats again. The Tracker did not track my RIPPED class as a workout at all. It just counted extra steps during that hour. Each segment of the workout runs 7-8 minutes...not enough constant moving for the Tracker to call it a workout. The run/walk/cycle event was tracked while I was sitting on my butt in a meeting doing nothing but shaking my foot or tapping my toe. I was doing it on purpose just to see what the Tracker would do. LOL! Now I know!

Friday, September 26, 2013
No workout today.

I wore the tracker on my bra strap or waist band all day instead of on my shoe. Appears it tracked steps just as accurately as wearing it on my shoe.

Saturday, September 27, 2013
Zumba today, 60 minutes, and 717 calories burned according to my Polar. I just saw the option to "reclassify" a workout on the Tracker page, but Zumba is not one of the options. The Tracker gave me credit for only 23 minutes and 30 calories.

Sunday, September 28, 2013
I didn't work out today, but we took a long nature trail walk with our grandkids. The Tracker is awesome at tracking steps, and it was nice to get credit for activity when I didn't really intend to.

Honestly...I'm just not sure if this gadget is for me. I suppose I could benefit from it just by using it when I am NOT doing an actual workout. It would be a good tool for helping me to set goals for increasing my activity outside of when I work out. Since 10 minutes of solid movement is required to get workout credit, and so many of my workouts are in intervals, I think it will bring me more frustration than motivation. Only being able to edit the type of activity and not the minutes and calories burned is a problem for me.

So whether or not I will keep or return the Spark Activity Tracker is undetermined at this point. I suppose I should give it a little more time to see what additional enhancements turn up, and I would also like to know what the phone app that is coming out will do.

What else ya got out there to win me over, SparkPeople?
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Thanks! I was thinking of buying one... your blog has helped me decided to keep my money and wait until something better comes along.
    1542 days ago
  • LAURIE5658
    Like others, I was entertaining the thought of getting the SparkTracker just because I love gadgets. I already own the Fitbit One and I love it. From what I read on your blog along with others, I believe I shall just keep my Fitbit. Come on Spark, you can do better than that.

    THANK YOU for your very candid and detailed review.
    1608 days ago
    Thank you for this info! I have tried a few activity monitors and most of them have been a disappointment. I really like my Fitbit Flex, even though it is a lot more expensive. The SP Activity Monitor sounded an awful lot like the one from Weight Watchers, and from your blog post, I think I will wait until the next one.

    I wasn't fond of lack of Bluetooth, but I could have overlooked that if the other features were more attractive.
    1610 days ago
    Mahalo for your information. Sure hope SP take it to heart for redesign. In the meantime I think I will look into the Fitbit.
    1613 days ago
    Sounds really high tech and fancy...I just figured out how to use my multi function heart rare monitor. emoticon
    1616 days ago
    Thank you for your honest opinion of the SP Activity Tracker. I was on the fence leaning toward a no. I use a Polar FT7 and I love it. I thought perhaps the adding the tracker to sync my steps would be a good idea, but... I've never counted my steps anyway so why start now. I'll skip this product and stick with my Polar.
    1616 days ago
    Wow, great blog! I just got the Spark Activity Tracker and now I'm worried by what I read. I am terrible about remembering to put in my fitness minutes so I was hoping this would really help with that, but I see that it might not. I tend to do a lot of Zumba and dancing. I hope to do more walking/jogging and maybe it will be good for that, but I really wanted it to track the Zumba. I really hope they add Zumba as a choice. I also hope to start doing strength training.....can't that still be entered manually? That's IF I remember to do it.

    Thanks for all the info and keep up the good work!!!
    1618 days ago
    Thanks for the assessment of the Spark Activity Tracker. I was half thinking of ditching my Fitbit (except I love my Fitbit and their customer support) because of the "workout" tracking feature. However, based on your review, I don't think it would capture my kickboxing workout that well. The Fitbit will give me 3000-5000 steps for it and indicate that I've had a decent number of active minutes. Still probably low on the calorie burn, since it's mostly arm work, but I don't think the Spark would do much better based on your experience.
    1625 days ago
  • NIKI778
    I was all excited to get a spark activity tracker until I read this, now I am not so sure. Glad I didn't rush out and get one, I liked the idea of not having to track, but if the calorie burns are that far off, it wouldn't be worth it. I will just search harder for a replacement battery for my hrm and maybe purchase a pedometer, but I don't think I even care about tracking the steps I walk everyday.
    1625 days ago
    Thanks! I've been curious about some of this so I am glad I found your post. I am happy with my fitbit and the active minutes do not have to be consecutive 10 minutes (though I see the value in noting that) and I can log activity and alter the calorie burn. I also use a heart rate monitor and tend to log the activities the fitbit cannot track that well. For many activities my fitbit and hrm actually agree or are close. I am still curious about the Spark mainly because it is waterproof and is said to automatically identify some activities. The 30 day guaranty makes me want to try it. Not sure yet though as I don't "need" it.
    1627 days ago
  • ACACIA21
    and the calorie tracker is way off. No credit for the running part of my treadmill emoticon
    1631 days ago
    Thanks for this, Carol! You need something that accurately captures every fabulous bit of effort you're investing.
    1631 days ago
  • ACACIA21
    Hi Carol, I have been waiting for your blog about this. I am frustrated by mine, too.
    I have found that I have to manually modify my treadmill workouts. It takes a long time to get the info to really upload onto my page. I don't like the 10 minute minimum workout, as I BUST a MOVE frequently and it only gives me steps. That being said, I probably wont return it . I do like the way it lights up to show me I have reached
    ( or mostly NOT) reached my goal. I really keeps me accountable and it does get me moving. I had really hoped it was more accurate than it is. I hate manually tracking anything, and I hoped this automatic tracker would do it for me. I guess knowing what I know now, I wouldn't have bought it. Lots of tech bugs to still work out on it,and like you said, an expensive pedometer :(
    Hugs, Baby
    1631 days ago
    emoticon Sounds like the Sparkpeople Tracker works a lot like my Omron. So, since I'm happy with it I won't try the New One. It will be interesting to see if they acknowledge and address these issues, AND the problem with shipping them outside of the USA.
    1632 days ago
  • CYND59
    So glad you posted this blog. I was just looking at them and trying to decide if I wanted it. I already have the FitBit so I guess I will stick with that. I also have an armband watch type tracker so I do not need something else to keep up with.

    Maybe Sparkpeople will come up with a different version once everyone gives them feedback on it.

    1632 days ago
    Thanks for the info. I'll stick to fitbit and HRM unless they can deal with some of these problems. What a disappointment it must be for SP as well as us. Good that they give the 30 day guarantee.
    1633 days ago
    Thanks for the info. I was intrigued and thought I might try it but think I may save my money. Thank you!
    1633 days ago
    Thank you so much for this! I don't know anything about the Polar. I've been using a BodyMedia tracker. I'm happy with it's tracking functions but I find it somewhat clunky and uncomfortable being on my arm all the time. So I was thinking about trying the new SP tracker but I do a lot of circuit training, so maybe not. Thanks again for sharing this!
    1633 days ago
    Sounds as if you've given it an honest try. Based on your experience, I think I'll save my money.
    1633 days ago
  • ADZY86
    That sounds SO annoying! Think I'll be sticking with my trusty Polar HRM!
    1633 days ago
    Guess I will enjoy my HRM for a while longer. Thanks for the feedback.

    1633 days ago
    Expensive pedometer - that seems accurate, at least from this side of things.
    1633 days ago
    Mine may be going back as well. Not impressed with it.
    1633 days ago
  • KANOE10
    I would rather get credit for my efforts..but keep experimenting. Good luck.
    1633 days ago

    Comment edited on: 9/30/2013 7:35:34 AM
    I have not been given credit for workouts or not total credit. I have decided to send mine back.
    1634 days ago
    Do you think it would track more calories during Zumba if it was clipped at the waist instead of the shoe? It seems like a lot of your exercises included upper body motion. I know the site said most accurate is on the shoe but if you're doing Zumba or upper body workouts maybe waist would be better? (Just wondering if it would help.)
    1634 days ago
    Thanks for sharing your findings.
    1634 days ago
    I like that the the fitbit gives me credit for sitting and otherwise quiet burning of calories and for sure give the correct credit for Zumba! Bummer!

    1634 days ago
    I would be pretty frustrated with doing a hard work-out and not getting any "credit". I use the Nike Fuelband and usually I wear it on my shoe as it is more accurate tracking steps than wearing it on my wrist. These gadgets are expensive...but fun... and no doubt about it it does keep me moving. Thanks for blogging about the new Spark gadget. I was curious and slightly envious of your "Glowgetter Award" lol.


    1634 days ago
  • BEFIT018
    I have one, also, and am not sure I'll be keeping it. I have both a HRM and an Omron pedometer that I wear frequently and thought the simplicity of it automatically loading to the computer would be great. I never expected it to line up with a HRM, tho--it doesn't take heart rate/exertion into consideration. I'm still deciding, tho.

    However, I read that the mobile app is available in Oct but only to synch with 'puter not a phone.

    Have a great week!
    1634 days ago
    I think Zumba option may be under: Cardio Dancing (including aerobic dance, Zumba, Hip Hop HUSTLE)

    I have the Fitbit, and it does track sleep. I love it. Except that a bouncy bus trip yesterday was mistaken for walking 15,000 steps and climbing 84 floors! LOL!
    1634 days ago
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