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Observations on being connected...

Sunday, September 22, 2013

A couple of weeks ago, I interrupted my alphabet blogs to talk about some new technology I was trying out. This is an update on that theme. Having worked with them for a couple of weeks, I have observations... as regulars to this blog KNEW I would! emoticon

My first "well, duh!" observation is that suddenly I am getting a whole lot more fitness minutes logged! The why should be apparent: I had quit counting my break walks from work, and only was tracking activity for "real" training. The fitbit flex records those, and tells Spark all about it!

My second is an observation of the results of the sleep tracking. Fitbit flex can be worn at night, and if you tap it just so, it puts it into sleep tracking mode. I knew I was having insomnia issues, that was no news. Having the tracker tell me how long it took to fall asleep, how many times I wakened in the night, how many times I was "restless"... valuable. It tells me when I've had a better night's sleep... and I can map it to how I feel and perform the next day. That's kind of a "duh", too... but having a measurement makes it possible to measure the effectiveness of efforts at improving the quality / quantity of my sleep. Sleep is important to health and fitness, too.

Before I move on from the fitbit flex, I have to mention that I tried wearing it in the pool. It survived, but I was paranoid about it being wet the whole time! And it did not record me as being active during that swim! Granted, I swim slow, but the fitbit flex does not track me as active during a swim, so what's the point of wearing it in the pool? Other than just not wanting to take it off and put it back on? Haven't worn it in the pool since.

My third observation is that to synch my Withings health mate scale takes an overt action on my part... I have to consciously synch it when I want it to update. I think that may be because I use a different e-mail address for the scale from what I use for However, I find this to my advantage, only synching it about once a week. Spark recorded weight every day (remember, I'm one of those daily weigh-ers) might just be overkill.

Now, on to the NEW news... I was given the opportunity to get a new Spark Activity tracker in its BETA phase... don't know if we're supposed to blog about it yet, but nobody said not to!

I signed up, and got my tracker in the mail Friday when I got home from work. So far, it has tracked only one full day. I disconnected my fitbit flex effective Saturday morning so I wouldn't be DOUBLE tracking as I'm wearing both, doing a comparison study for myself.

First observation about the Spark activity tracker: it's very nicely integrated to the site.

Set up was easy. I tried doing more, because it came with an extra battery in the package and I (being me) figured it was the ONLY battery and that I needed to install it. So I fussed with the device, only to discover once I FINALLY got the battery door open... that it already HAD a battery... the one in the package is a spare! So I did something I didn't need to do.

But linking it to the Spark account: easy peasy.

In the full day I tracked (Saturday), I had an elliptical warm up to my weight training. It automatically tracked that as a walking/cycling workout. Woo-hoo. The weight training, it only logged as "light" based on the steps I took, but since I log strength training exercises independently, that's probably right. Then I went on an afternoon bike ride. The tracker identified this as "unspecified" workout, and let me choose from the Spark workout types.

This one, too, can't be worn in the pool... but based on a sample day? And knowing the difference in price point... I think the Spark activity tracker is going to be my go-to device for every day use and linking with Spark. It's too easy not to!

I will keep my flex, though, since I already invested in it. Especially for the sleep measurement. Over the next couple of weeks, I will observe the differences in "steps" they all record. For Saturday, here's what they showed:

My old school OMRON traditional pedometer - 11454 steps.
Fitbit Flex - 14291 steps.
Spark Activity Tracker - 16655 steps

As with scales whose results differ, different tools measure differently. The Spark Activity tracker I believe is adding credit for the strength exercises I entered manually! It definitely added my 41 minute swim from this morning when I manually tracked it. The OMRON has never tracked cycling terribly well. Both the flex and the Spark tracker do a better job with that.

If you're confused by all this and looking for a tool for you? Pick ONE, use it consistently... because it's REALLY about measuring trends and changes over time.

LIFE is good. Tools are fun. Spark on! emoticon
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Invest in a Fitbit! It's good! Keeps you moving, and I got many friends and family using it too =)
    471 days ago
    I like the old school pedometer as it is better to be under than over. Have you seen the new TRI watch from it does everything for every sport!
    1728 days ago
    1728 days ago
    The Spark Activity tracker sounds interesting. I may have to check it out when my fitbit needs replacing.
    1729 days ago
    Thanks for the writeup. You've confirmed some of my guesses about the fitbit, and provided some food for thought on the concept of automatic tracking. I'm not ready to plop money down for something that tracks automatically, but I will be thinking about the relative merits of capturing everything automatically versus manual entry as a motivational tool and not counting stuff I'd do anyway.
    1729 days ago
    Thank you for the review!
    I accidently washed my fitbit one, once too many times and i finally could not revive it.
    I loved my fitbit, but never used it for sleep tracking. I saw that spark was coming out with a tracker and you answered all my questions.
    Thanks for posting this review!

    1729 days ago
    Thanks for your observatins, Barb! HUGS
    1729 days ago
    Wow, you are a "techy" when it comes to all that fitness technology. I'm too intimidated by it! It's nice you can compare and contrast the different types to see what best works for you and I'm not surprised that you are "working out" more than you considered.

    Keep it up!
    1729 days ago
    Interesting information about your various technology, including the new sp tracker! I know a lot of people are interested in what it will be like. I love my fitbit One for the hill tracking, since I live in a hilly area where I walk up and down a lot of hills. I'm on a group on the fitbit site that is climbing the 7 summits, one on each continent, and am having fun doing that and it gets me looking for hills on my walks instead of flat places. It also tracks the sleep. I have worn it in the pool by putting it inside couple of sandwich baggies (the fold top, not the zip ones) then putting a rubber band around it all after I make sure they are wrapped tightly, and pinning it inside my bathing suit during water aerobics. It seems to work pretty well that way. It's not water resistant, but by wrapping it well I've protected it and it still doesn't create much of a bump when pinned inside the cup of the bra part of the swimsuit.
    1729 days ago
    I love my Fitbit One, for the stairs that it tracks and for the sleep tracking. I've never had any success with connecting the WiFi Scales - Aria or Withings. The new Spark Tracker sounds interesting - maybe they'll also come out with a scale that "talks" to Spark. Thanks for posting your observations!
    1729 days ago
  • DALID414
    I'm still debating getting the new tracker. I don't have ANY form of tracker and tend to think it's a tool best left to those still attempting to lose weight and not those if us in maintenance mode. Thanks for the honest review.
    1729 days ago
    Also, while I think it is incredibly accurate with walking and running, I've heard that Fitbit is not real great with tracking swimming and biking. For some reason those motions don't register correctly, at least with my Fitbit Zip. Perhaps the Flex is better though. Still, I think it's the greatest tool in my repertoire!
    1729 days ago
    I love my fitbit too! Private message me if you'd like to become fitbit friends :)
    1729 days ago
    Good to have lots of tools in your tool shed.Thanks for the info on your new techno toys and how they rate. I haven't invested in that Fit Bit yet, but it's looking promising. emoticon
    1729 days ago
    Wow!! I'm so impressed with your tech competence and comfort!!
    1729 days ago
    great job comparing. Thanks for the information.
    1729 days ago
    interesting observation Barb, I've yet to invest in these gadgets, might just invest in one for my BD in October
    1729 days ago
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