6 Reasons Why You'll Love the Spark Activity Tracker

By , SparkPeople Blogger
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.

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I had a SPAT, but lost it down the drain. I sure miss getting those "glow getter" awards and watching it light up. :( Report
I love, love my Spark Activity Tracker. I am a newbie to exercise and this has been the needed techie reminders that I have needed to get more activity in. I don't have to mess with it or be a scientific genius to use it. It's perfect for me and motivates me each day. I love the lights on it, everyone is different. Come on Sparkers, make more of them! Report
This is a wonderful item to hv. I am just sorry they no longer sell them. On Amazon you can order but it costs double the price that SparkPeople sold for. Mine is a yr old & still working just find. & if sitting for periods I feel motivated to get up & walk around area I am in just to track more steps. I love it. Spark pls bring this back. I hv several friends wanting this. Report
I would love to get one, however it's no longer available. I'm hoping that if enough sparkers keep requesting they bring it back we'll be heard. Report
I love my SPAT. It does a great job for me! I have increased my activity because of my SPAT. I also bought a back up on just in case :D Report
I love mine but agree that its not what it was advertised when I bought it almost 2-3 years back. It is motivating when you check in and see all the "steps" you have made during the day. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Report
Was surprised to see this as a featured article today. Thought these were no longer available. Is that true? Report
Will the Spark Activity Tracker ever go back into production again... I see that it is sold out and no longer available. :-( Report
I have two of these trackers. They do not track yoga, weight lifting, bike riding, swimming, or cardio. If you just walk, this is the tracker for you.

I had to buy another one, because I ran one through the washing machine and it doesn't work correctly anymore. So much for waterproof. Report
am so happy to ready the spark tracker is waterproof, forgot to take it off my clothes so it went through the washer last night. about had a heart attack when I went to put it on this morning and it wasn't in its designated place.

thank you for making such a durable product. :) Report
I have had many trackers (fitbit one, striiv, weight watchers and over the counter types) but I really like the Spark tracker the most. It makes tracking on Spark People a breeze. My only concern is the battery, I have been using the sp tracker for about a week and the battery level is at 50%. This makes no sense to me as I thought the battery is supposed to last for 6 months. Report
I do LOVE my tracker. But I do have to disagree with battery life. When I got my tracker and put it to use, my battery was half used up and I'm on my 2nd battery in less than 3 months. But, like I said - I do LOVE it. And I got mine on sale, so that was even better!! Thank you SP, for your website and all you do!! Report
I swim laps and do deep water aerobics classes because of knee issues. Can this device be used for these activities? If not, how would this device benefit me? Report
I love mine! I think it is the easiest tracker out there, period. You put it on and go, no resetting it, no passing a button by mistake and losing data. Simple! Thanks Sparkpeople. Report
I have had mine for 4 months and the battery is at a little less than half, but then again I tap it 10 times a day for encouragement. I really do LOVE it and have got one for my brother and friend and they love them too. It really does get you moving. Report
The battery lasts HOW long? I've had my SPAT for a day and a half and the battery already shows as half "empty." Report
I love mt SPAT but I the battery was suppose to last 12 months and I have gotten 2 notices that I should change my battery as it is down to 18% . . . . that is barely 3 months for a battery. Report
First of all....... I luv my spat. Not that I need it. I usually keep track of my fitness by mileage and time. The altimate tracker that no one makes would track: bicyle, swimming, and all activities that burn calories.... a sleep tracer is useless info. and if you think u have a sleep disorder. consult a doctor. Report
As much as I would love to support SparkPeople by purchasing the SPAT, I do enjoy the features of my Fitbit too much to switch. For me the selling point originally was the sleep tracker. And now that I've upgraded to the flex from the one (only a week veggie the SPAT was announced, mind you) I can wear my Fitbit all the time without having to take it off to shower or changing clothes. While I do like the fact that the SPAT can differentiate between normal activity and intentional exercise, I wouldn't want to lose my sleep tracker abd the fact that I might forget to switch it from my clothes. And actually, I prefer to charge my battery. I can't tell you how many watched I have lying around because the batteries have died and I don't feel like going through the trouble if replacing them. Report
I like the tracker but I am wondering when I'll get my trophy for the October Challenge. Report
Thanks for the blog but I will stick to what I got. Report
I have had mine for a week and a half. Love, love , love it! Yesterday I stepped 12,528 which is now my highest. I love telling others how high Tec I am and what the Tracker does. I bought my daughter one, and she loves it and now my husband is hoping to get his today so he can be cool too. I use a medium safety pin to make sure that I will not lose it. Report
I can say this sounds wonderful, and the price is right. But one deal killer for my wife--blinky lights.she tried the Fitbit Flex, and went back to the Fitbit One solely because she wants to see a number to help motivate her. Counting blinking lights and doing math in her head for the remaining goal doesn't appeal to her.

Make one with a digital display AND washing machine proof, and you'll have a Fitbit killer! Report
I would love to get one (I'm one of the people who washed more than one Garmin). But, I work 12 hour night shifts - I really like the iPhone app that will sync my Fitbit before midnight when I'm at work. I can't drag my laptop with the dongle in to sync at work. I asked about the app and the reply from SP was "not available yet" Report
Thank you for your review. I was wondering how this would compare to my Fitbit, which I bought in September, and really enjoy. I appreciate you saying that if you are happy with what activity tracker you have, keep using it. I hope SparkPeople will continue to support the these trackers as well. Report
Hi Nicole! I have been thinking about ordering one but was wondering how it tracks cardio classes like Zumba. I get a good portion of my exercise/week from these type of classes and was wondering how the tracker would track these classes (as exercise, not activity) without a heart rate monitor. I get my heart rate up during these classes and wanted to make sure the tracker tracks them accordingly. Thanks! Report
I'm learning how to use my SPAT and it is definitely a motivator to get up and move during my work day. My only regret is that I don't have a second synch point so that I can see my progress at work and also have one on my home computer, for my end of the day numbers. Something to think about when you market the next generation? Report
I would love to buy one but I am not HOME in the USA at this time so it would do me no good. Report
I will have to invest in a spark tracker. Don't have one. Report
The SPAT sounds great and I'll consider it the next time I need to replace my trusty pedometer - I really like that it's waterproof!

HOWEVER - regarding the contests - for those of us at goal weight (especially if we're petite) burning 10K calories would involve something along the lines of running a marathon, whereas this would be a lot more feasible for someone who is twice my weight or a 6' brawny guy. Perhaps the contests need to be reconsidered.

I'm also curious as to whether sharing of activity info with Spark friends is optional. Report
Nicole, sometimes the way I get in my steps for the day is by walking in place. Will the Spark pick up those steps and will it record it as exercise? Report
I absolutely love my activity tracker. Received it for an early birthday gift from y sister and it is by far the best gift I have ever received. I have spent a lot of money on pedometers, have lost them, gotten them wet and what have you. This by far out ranks any pedometer I have ever had. It keeps track of all my steps the kinds of activity I do and it even enters it on my spark fitness page. I can't say enough good things about it. Thank you Spark! Report
hmmm... seems like one could make a healthy living smuggling SPATs overseas. LOL Hope it becomes available for you guys soon! Report
I have had mine for almost 2 weeks now and absolutely love it! Thank you SP for continuing to make our lifestyle changes that much easier! :D Report
I have not used an activity tracker before, but after having heard a bit about the Spark, and now, having read this great blog, I have let my DH know and put this on my Christmas wish list!! I do hope he comes through for me! Early!! The sooner the better!! Thanks, Spark People, for yet another great way to get us healthy!! ((HUGS)) Report
I love everything about the SPARK. Everything. I use mine daily and it really does help to motivate me to move more. Last night, for example, after work I wasn't even half way to my goal steps for the day. So instead of curling up on the couch like I wanted, I used those little green lights (or lack of in this case) to talk me into another trip to the gym with my son. We did a little cardio and some weights, but we were active instead of being couch potatoes. The motivation is GREAT! Report
I got the Spark Activity Tracker just a week ago, and LOVE it. I've never used any other kind of activity tracker, so I can't give any comparative data...but I didn't buy any of the others after looking into them. :) I really appreciate the SAT simplicity and the fact that it can distinguish among activities. I've found the most accurate such distinctions occur when I have it on my shoe...as it says in the instructions! Report
I love my Spark Tracker even though sometimes its not as accurate I just have to re adjust the activity. I love the challenges u dont have to sign up for, just have to use it!! Report
I have a FitBit and a SPAT and prefer the SPAT by a long shot! It truly is motivating and easy to use. The set up is much easier for people who aren't tech savvy. It has motivated my co-workers to get one and have competitions with one another. I love it! Report
I've been using mine for a few weeks and really love it! Previous trackers were always falling off but the Spark is very secure. So easy to use & I do find it really motivating. Obvious that a lot of thought was put into the design & features. Thank you !!! Report
I just bought mine, one because it is totally a spark product and two to support spark, we all know it has been totally free and they are always making it better. I have shopped around for trackers, but just never bought one..and was totally excited when I seen spark had one our..glad I waited. Report
Same here I'm also in the uk Report
I'm in the same situation as LouBug1012. Please make it available to us soon! Report
Hi Nicole, a good blog explaining the benefits of the Spark Tracker. I have been using the sparktracker for about a month. Its very accurate which surprised me. I really like it. Thanks for your information. Report
I would love to get the Spark Activity Tracker but I live in the UK and they are not available here. Do you know when they will become available overseas? Report