I'm not much of a "gadgets" person, but I am a results person. While I don't go for every trend or spend a lot of money on the latest technology, I will invest in things that have a big benefit to me. If that means a premium iPhone app, an amazingly accurate GPS watch (love my Garmin Forerunner), or a simple activity tracker, I'm generally skeptical at first, but very loyal once I find something that works.
Many of you know that I've been a Fitbit fan for many years. I still love the Fitbit and think it's a great device. It happened to be the tracker that really resonated with me, but that's not necessarily because the Fitbit is better or more accurate than anything else. From my perspective, any activity tracker that has the basic features you need and is easy to use can work wonders even if it's not the best or the most impressive. Regardless of the brand or type of device, the biggest benefit you'll get from any activity tracker is that wearing it each day as motivation to set and reach new goals. For me, that's why I love certain gadgets and data.
I'm proud to have been involved in the testing and developing of the Spark Activity Tracker's online features. After years of using an activity tracker, I had more than a few ideas on how to make our tracker great. For people who don't already have an activity tracking device—or for those who simply want a more streamlined experience—the Spark is an affordable gadget worth checking out. I love it for all the reasons I fell in love with my Fitbit years ago—but as loyal as I've been to the Fitbit, I have to admit that The Spark has several more perks that you won't find in other activity trackers.
Here are six reasons why I think you'll love the Spark as much as I do.
A Little Background on Our Little Tracker
The Spark Activity Tracker tracks some basic daily activity: how many steps you take, how far you've traveled (in miles), how many minutes you've exercised, and your estimated calorie burn based on these stats. It's also smart enough to distinguish between "exercise" and general daily activity. In fact, it can tell the difference between Spinning class, walking, running or using the elliptical—and report those details to you, which is something I haven't seen in other activity trackers.
You wear it each day, clipping it to your shoe, bra or waistband when you get out of bed. All day long, it tracks your movement. And every time you are near your computer sync point, it syncs your data wirelessly to your SparkPeople account. Learn more about how the Spark Activity Tracker works here.
So what makes the Spark so great?
The Spark Motivates You to Get Active
Simply wearing the Spark motivates me to move more! I love seeing the tracker light up with my progress throughout the day. I love seeing my stats online and each week in my summary emails. I love reaching "all-time best" records. It is a little reminder that I think about throughout the day and it motivates me to make a more active choice. You can set your daily goal to any steps level, and each day you reach it, you earn a fun "Glow Getter" trophy from SparkPeople. Little things like this can be so motivating in helping you reach your goals.
When you wear the Spark, you'll start to notice that even your rest days become more active. You'll get up more often at work. You'll take the dog out for two walks a day (if you're anything like me!). You'll find excuses to get up from your desk. I think of it as a daily reminder to move, and it truly works as a motivator. This is so important for weight loss and overall health. As studies show, even people who exercise are putting their health at risk by being sedentary for so many hours in the day. What really matters, beyond exercise, is accumulating more active time in your day—and the Spark helps you do that.
The Spark Seamlessly Integrates with SparkPeople.com
Yes, you can sync other tracking devices like Fitbit and BodyMedia to SparkPeople, which is a great perk for SparkPeople members who already own these devices. But we can't verify any of the data (such as the accuracy of calories burned) from these third-party trackers. The Spark Activity Tracker, on the other hand, was designed to work directly with SparkPeople. It pulls in all of your data, and distinguishes between "workouts" (which last 10 continuous minutes or longer) from "general activity" so that you have a more detailed pictured about your calories burned.
Plus using the Spark Activity Tracker lets you have all of your fitness data on one site (SparkPeople.com), which has all the cool features you've come to know and love: a robust food tracker, fun challenges to keep you motivated, a vibrant support community, thousands of articles and videos—and so much more. No other activity tracker on the market can come close to offering everything you get at SparkPeople—not even the ones that charge you monthly fees.
The Spark Is Waterproof and Goof Proof
The Spark Activity Tracker really is simple to set up, simple to sync and simple to use. You don't have to be a tech-savvy person to figure it out or enjoy it (but we've got great support to help people find their way if they need a little hand holding). As a Fitbit user for many years, I can't tell you how many devices I accidentally ruined by leaving the device in a pocket or clipped to my pants and then accidentally running it through the laundry. The Spark is waterproof, which makes it even more goofproof! You can wear it in the rain, wear it in the pool, and throw it through the washer on purpose if you care do to so—none of these actions will ruin the device.
Another great perk is that because it uses a watch-style battery, the Spark Activity Tracker's battery life lasts a really long time (up to 12 months) so you don't have to worry about your gadget dying and not tracking your steps. (I love my Fitbit, but I don't love that I have to charge it at least once a week to keep it working, or to look down and notice that it had died sometime during the day and I hadn't even noticed).
The Spark Is FUN!
I love that the Spark provides weekly feedback (via email) based on my progress, complete with tips to get better and encouragements to keep going. As you accumulate your steps, the lights glow larger and brighter around your device, which is a nice visual of your progress. And when you reach new milestones, you get virtual trophies (up to daily if you reach your goals!) and congratulatory messages that you can share with your friends via Twitter, Facebook (if that's your thing) and with your SparkPeople friends. All of these things help make it more fun to get fit!
You can also see the activity stats of all your SparkFriends who are using the tracker. This is a great way to stay motivated with a little friendly competition! With your friends, you can set your own mini goals and challenges to push each other to the next level!
Probably one of the coolest things it that every person who uses the Spark is automatically entered into monthly challenges that keep you motivated! (For November, you could win a $100 Zappos gift certificate just for using your Spark and burning 10,000 calories!)
The Spark Offers A Lot for the Price
The Spark Activity Tracker is one of the most inexpensive trackers on the market today, but you get a lot for that money considering everything at SparkPeople.com is free, that the battery life lasts a crazy long time, that you won't ruin your device in the washing machine, and that it has just about all the same key features as other devices on the market.
Sure, some other trackers have Bluetooth (which is nice, but it also drains battery life), track whether your toss and turn in your sleep (for me personally, this was never a feature I cared about or used), or maybe display a few other metrics. But from my perspective as a fitness professional, most people don't need all the bells and whistles. The beauty of the Spark is that is has all the key measures I would tell people to look for—but you don't have to pay a premium for a bunch of fancy stuff you might not need. I don't think you can get a better deal for the price.
The Spark Supports SparkPeople
If you're a diehard SparkPeople user, or someone who has benefitted from the many free tools, resources and features that our site and apps offer, you might have asked yourself what you can do to share the love or thank SparkPeople. Even after 12 years, we're still a tiny company of passionate people who care deeply about helping others. We are always working to get our brand out there because we know that we have the capabilities to Spark so many people to change their lives for the better. One of the ways in which we are able to continue innovating and improving is to offer products like the Spark Activity Tracker. We hope that SparkPeople is a brand that you relate to and trust and we'd love your support. Consider adding the Spark to your holiday wish list or gifting it to a loved one who loves fitness—or one who has expressed a desire to get fit but might not be sure how to start.
A lot of people have been asking whether they should buy the Spark if they already have an activity tracker like the Fitbit. To them, my answer is no—unless you're unsatisfied with the current product you have or want the simplicity of having all your data on one site. The Spark is a great option to consider if you don't already have an activity tracking device but are thinking about getting one. Hopefully this blog has given you some good facts and personal experience to help you make that decision.
Have you tried the Spark Activity Tracker? What do you like about it? What is your favorite fitness gadget?
Lead photo by Belle & Blanc Photography, 2013.
More From SparkPeople