SparkPeople Blogs  •  fitness  •  cardio

What People Are Saying about the Spark Activity Tracker

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Everyone in the SparkPeople office has been wearing and using the Spark Activity Tracker during the beta testing phase so we were very excited for it to finally release on October 1. While we love its small size, fun light-up display and ease of use, we were anxious to hear what SparkPeople members would think about this tiny tool that tracks steps, miles and fitness minutes (and automatically syncs the data with your SparkPeople Fitness Tracker). We’re finding new reviews from members daily, and we're delighted to see how much they're enjoying the Spark! (Learn more about exactly what the Spark Activity Tracker can do for you.) 

Easy to Set Up
"My Spark Activity Tracker was super easy to set up. It comes with a dongle that I plugged into a USB port on my computer. Whenever I walk by, it automatically syncs to my Spark account. No user intervention required. I wear mine clipped to my waistband or on my shoe lace. It can also be clipped easily enough to a pocket or a bra. It's truly wearer's preference. (Read the whole review from 111BUTTERFLY111.)

Accurate Tracking
"It tracks steps, miles, activity and time and the best thing is it knows what kind of activity. I was so surprised the first time I got off my recumbent bicycle and went to my activity tracking page and saw that it knew I was cycling! None of my other devices could do that. That was a huge plus for me. It recognizes the difference between the elliptical, bicycle, walking, running and just normal activity." (Read the whole review from PINKHOPE.)

Extra Encouragement
“I was short on steps today, so I ran out after dinner just as it was getting dark and put in a mile of walking. Without the Spark Activity Tracker, I wouldn't have bothered, so I guess that's worth getting it right there!” (Read the whole review from RENE176)

Syncing with SparkPeople Automatically
"I like that the Spark syncs directly with SparkPeople. I no longer have to enter manually my mileage and steps, something I tend to forget to do with my pedometer. I still have access to my regular tracker, though, so I can add other activities not captured by the Spark. I also like that there is no yearly membership fee. Once you buy the device, you can upload data for free to SparkPeople. As I understand it, some electronic devices charge for the convenience of automatic uploading of data to a website." (Read the whole review from LARRI2010)

Finding Motivation
"I find getting all the lights on the Spark to light up by the end of the day very motivating.
Earlier in the week I was close to having all the lights on by the end of the day. There was a show on TV that my husband and I really wanted to watch. I found myself getting up and walking around the house during the commercials so I could get that last light to go on. The third set of commercials, I came back in the room to find my husband stepping in place! I can be a good role model and spread the spark! Who knew?" (Read the whole review from ICANLOSEMORE)

Getting Extra Steps throughout the Day
"The Spark tracks my steps throughout the day. It also records workouts of 10 continuous minutes or more. For example, I vacuumed soon after receiving it and that continuous activity was recorded! It's a kick to see that my grocery shopping counts as an activity (yes, I'm one of those 'power' grocery shoppers because it's part of my 'me'/de-stressing time by myself) and I am continuously moving. It just never occurred to me that shopping was an activity that could be tracked--light-bulb moment. Who knew that I walked a mile in the market, certainly not me!" (Read the whole review from CHERYL_ANNE)

Celebrating the Journey
"For me, the biggest reason I bought (the Spark Activity Tracker) and am happy with it, is it is a constant reminder of my journey here on Spark. When I look down and see the Spark emblem on my shoe, I'm reminded of how I got here, to a place where I'm concerned about my daily activity and exercise. To a place where walking a few laps around my house is worth it to reach a small goal I've set for myself." (Read the whole review from BOBCATGIRL76.)

What are you waiting for? Spark your fitness, get motivated and discover even more reasons to add movement into your day just like these members by getting your own Spark Activity Tracker today!

Have you tried the Spark Activity Tracker? What is your favorite feature of the Spark? Please let us know what you think.

Photo credit: Belle & Blanc Photography for Cincy Chic

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The SPAT is a strong motivator for those who like to see results in print.
However, it comes with certain frustrations.:

The SPAT does not always record step count accurately

The SPAT does not always classify the activity correctly.

The SPAT does allow for reclassification; however it does not allow the activity to be reclassified if the activity crosses the midnight time.

The SPAT seems to have a black out period between midnight and 3am where it will not upload.

Since the calories burned and the number of steps do not always balance, one must be adjusted at the cost of the other.

Calories can be adjusted in the regular fitness window, steps cannot be.

If one can work around these frustrations, the SPAT is a good tool of motivation. Report
I wish the best for everyone with their SPAT. I had mine around 1 year and loved it at first. Loved the fact that it logged onto SP! But after so long, I knew that it wasn't recording my steps right and it was so frustrating because of having a disability with any form of exercise and then It wouldn't record the number of steps right when I'd be so overjoyed to have that many. And then it would do great for awhile and then not show the right colors and would show red when I would of just had a new battery. I'd change the battery in and out because the SP would give good advice on what to do, but I had to eventually give it up because I couldn't count on it. So now I hope to one day get a FITBIT! Report
My only problem is how do I explain when i am ill. I have a cold today and while I went to work I am planning on spending the rest of the day and maybe the next several days on the couch watching old TV shows. Cannot breathe through my nose and have a headache .... so green tea and lots of water. Report
So I've now had my Spat for 2 months. I love it. Even during that down time, it's nice to know the the NSA was nice enough to give us back the data we lost. LOL While in my other post I noted that the best placement is the shoe, but the clipping to pants pocket does just about as well, I find it is much easier to keep on my body since much of the time I'm in flip-flops. I have also gotten very careful with removing it before washing thanks to my SP friends here for making me aware of that problem. I am really liking how it helps to make me aware of how much I move and I know it has gotten me to move more to make sure my numbers don't tell on me for the day. The only true downfall that I see is that it has a difficult time telling what I'm doing in many of my projects. But I just let it count steps even though I may be crawling under a house, digging, chopping, etc. I know I'm using much more calories that what it says and I can log those things in, but as long as it is keeping me moving, that's all that really counts in my book. Report
I have had mine for a couple weeks now and have been observing my activities and the placement of the Spat. I have found that putting it on the shoe is definitely the best and most accurate. Putting it on my shirt neckline don't even register(makes me wonder about if it really works on a bra). Putting it on my pants pocket has had mixed results. I sometimes get nearly twice as many steps as I figure I actually made. But all this is minor compared to the other stuff I learned. I learned that even on an active day subbing, I do much more standing that walking. I am tired, but not from good movement. So even if I have a busy day at school, I need to continue to jog or something to get my steps in. So if nothing else, it helped show me that I am not moving as much as I thought I was and so now I am going to do more to make sure I get over the 6000 per day. I love that it is just a put on and go about your business type of thang. It logs in when I sit at the computer and doesn't need any prompting. But I do see how someone can lose it or wash it, etc. It is out of sight, out of mind, maybe just a bit too much. LOL Report
have just recieved my third spat. ObviouslyI love it to buy 3 . the first ended up in the washing machine and never worked again, the second just plain lost so I will be very careful with this one but I would think a homing device would be a great help. It is very motivational for me Report
MJ2AHIM, you are right on... just got mine and it is horribly inaccurate. I was going to give my fitbit to my son and use the Spark tracker, but it is not going to work for me. I need it to track ALL my steps, not just the ones it feels like tracking. Report
Mine is not accurately tracking steps. I can't find an avenue to address this. Report
For dog walking and other stop and start activities: you might try walking in place to keep moving in such situations if you're not getting sufficient credit from your tracker. I do this when supervising my feline Houdini when she's on house arrest (due to her finding another leak in the catproof fence that has to be found and plugged). I follow her around the yard during her exercise period (if you think dog walking gives you exercise, just try keeping up with an unleashed cat!). When she rarely stays still for a bit, I keep walking in place. Likewise when playing with the cats, dangling a string in front of them etc. Report
I don't have a Spark tracker, but from my experience with a simpler pedometer I would say you need to experiment a lot with placement when trying to get such gadgets to properly register walk in place. So don't give up too soon. I use an Omron 3-axis pedometer for chair walking (clipped near my knee) and standing walk in place only when my phone app (Walker Lite) doesn't work well (chair walking unless I can put the phone on my knee) or needs to be stopped (its counting interferes with the music of some games). For regular forward walking, both do fine. I prefer Walker because it keeps track of all the data forever and shows averages per week, month, year and has a memo function so I can note the omron reading for each day also, but the iphone is heavy in my pocket while working at the computer so I wish i could get the omron to consistently register in that situation. Walker is best for standing walk in place for some reason. It really picks up every step when I'm holding the phone (which I usually am). Neither picks up all walk in place steps in a pocket as well, maybe because I'm likely to be working at a computer and probably slowing down too often.

Anyway, it would be helpful to hear more details about type of walk in place and speed and placement of the Spark tracker that people have found successful (or not). Accurate registration of walk in place is a difficult task, any decent pedometer can handle regular walking. Report
I love my tracker! Was surprised to see how many steps I actually do at work. I used to joke that it felt like I walked miles a day at work and some days I actually do! I get so excited when all my lights light up! Report
I got my tracker almost 2 weeks ago and I love it!! It's nice to be able to wear it on my shoe or my waistband. Highly recommend : )
I already purchased a fitbit months ago and it is very motivating. If SPAT was around when I first joined, I would have bought instead I think Report
I have an Omron HJ-320 TriAxis Pedometer
I got it from Walgreen's with a discount coupon, so my cost was $10. I left it clipped to my waistband and accidentally sent it through the wash twice and the dryer once. It still works accurately, and there is no software to set up. I have to manually enter my steps to track on SparkPeople, I am going to log in anyway. It tells me my steps, mileage, and time. It had a 7 day memory, and automatically resets. Report
I had a fitbit, but lost it within the first 10 days; but comparing the two - yes, the SPAT syncs with SparkPeople but its also just a little bit smaller than the fitbit and to me, not as obtrusive. I actually wear mine in my bra, upside down so its not popping out- works fine for me. I am really enjoying it - today I am short, hugely, on steps, so now I see that i have to rectify that this evening.

All this time, i thought i was getting enough moving in - but.. nope!!

I'm have no idea how accurate it is - but, it is showing me that I need to do more and that's enough for me! Report
Thanks very much for the reviews. I was wondering about the SPAT but I think I will stick with my Fitbit. Report
I have fitbit and SPAT (spark people activity tracker). I am getting rid of my SPAT. It does not record acuratey. I hiked over a mile and it only shows I did .23 of a mile, only recorded 844 steps, showed 12 minutes of continues activity. (I had my dog with and he wanted to keep stopping so I would slow down or have to stop with him. Another time I had gone hiking and walking and all it showed up was about 6455 steps total where fitbit showed over 10000. When I walk in place around my place it does not accurately count the steps where fitbit does. It also does not give accurate activity time even when

The light up buttons also do not work like it should. It says to tap it 5 times well that does not work. I have to tap it like about 30-40 times and it may show up.

The plus side is that it automatically will sync with Spark. (Not that any of the info is correct). I like that it seperates the activity time versus just moving time (it just would be nice if it was accurate.)

It almost seems like you have to be doing a certain repetative movement for so long before it starts tracking, like some of the old devices used to use.

If you are a person who has to stop frequentlu in your activity, do chair activity,out walking the dog, etc. This device is not for you.

If you don't care about the numbers or if it is accurate and you want something to sync and you get motivated to see lights, then this device is for you. Report
I intend to get one soon! Report
I love my tracker. I wear it on my shoe. Happy that it's waterproof. Report
How does the Spark tracker compare to the Fitbit Zip? I curently have the Zip which looks to be the same size as the Spark tracker. Is it worth it? Report
Thanks for your info, Caramelsmom. Have you tried it if just walking in place? Sometimes that's the only way I get all my steps in for the day :-) I read a comment from someone who couldn't get it to track just walking in place.
Thanks! Report
I love mine. When I do Walk away the videos I place it on my pants pocket and it always records the workout. When I dance, it's on either my pocket or my bra and it works. The big thing is to remember to keep moving at least 10 minutes without stopping.

For those wondering about swimming. Yes, it is waterproof. I have been swimming with it multiple times. If I clip it on my suit it doesn't record the workout. But on another discussion, HOLDINGMYOWN said she uses 4 ponytail holders to attach it to her wrist. So I tried it. I put 2 ponytail holders at one end of the clip and 2 at the other end. That held the tracker securely to my wrist and it registered the workout. I just had to reclassify it to swimming, leisurely (I'm a very slow swimmer). Report
getting the Activity tracker was the best thing I've done for myself, it gets me moving a lot more. Report
Kudo's to Spark for opening up to ALL comments , both positive and negative. I would suggest however, they assign someone to provide responses where appropriate. Report
My friend on a Sparkpeople team I'm on said it was terrible so I won't be getting it. Report
I can't afford another tracking device! I have an iPod Nano that has a fitness tracker on it, and the advantage to my iPod is I can listen to music or podcasts while I walk (including Spark Radio!). So no, I can't afford this on my pension! Report
MISSBLESSED2003- check on eBay :) Report
I agree with several other comments here. Most of my activity is walking and the tracker doesn't consider all of my walking workouts as exercise so I get shorted on minutes and calories. However, it does track all of the steps and distance. So, if I manually add the exercise, it exaggerates the minutes exercised for the day, which feels like cheating, so I just don't do that. I do enjoy having the lights fill up for the day and knowing that I'm getting all of the steps in, so I'll keep using it. I'll just know that I have more calories to finish for the day so that I don't short myself. Report
I do most of my exercise in the pool.... is it good there Report
I wear ir and my fitbit I'm I total agreement with Insh8p. Report
I continue to use Fitbit One along with SPAT. SPAT is very good at continuous activity that creates body shift differences with a distinct pulse in your gait. I agree with KOVERTON4 about not accurately recording movement with Leslie Sansone videos... I think it is because SPAT doesn't like the kicks as high knee moves. If I only "walk", every thing "counts". As soon as I do the other types of movement, I don't get credit for continuous movement. I also find that I don't get credit for the dance steps that I do as part of daily activity at work. Fitbit One tracks that type of dance, but not SPAT. I don't find that SPAT syncs when I pass my computer -- I have to try a force sync, and then it takes another 3-5 minutes before the changes show up on my Start page or SPAT page.
I haven't tried SPAT with rower, recumbent cycle, or elliptical so I can't comment on that yet. I am also waiting for weekly badges; I have earned some, according to my calculations -- but maybe that takes time.
So, for me, the jury is out. While I work, I will try out any of SparkPeople's initiatives, as the program is far less expensive than any other provider services. SparkPeople, way to go. So what, getting through the glitches! I'll use the best of what it does for me, and not be concerned about the rest. Report
I'm a gadget lover myself. Love technology...I couldn't bring myself to get a Fitbit or Garmin yet and when my friend bought this for under $100 I was all over it. I saved up a couple of weeks and it's now on my shoes. What a great motivator. It's everything the reviews are saying: a cute little motivator, nice to not have to track...don't expect it to do the big bucks thingie because it's not. It's an assistant to you and Spark and that's what I love about it. I lit up all my lights today...going to do it again tomorrow, and THATS what it's about, right? Report
I like the spark. I have never had the fitbit, so I cannot compare. However, when I am on the elliptical, the spark shows that I was cycling. Is there a way to help the spark know the difference on my end? Just wondering. As long as the clip does not break, I think this will be a good product. It sure has motivated me more! Thanks for that! Report
I CAN'T AFFORD THIS! sad I am missing out on it. Report
I left a message in the Leaders team asking about the effectiveness of the tracker for Chair exercises and chair marching - however am assuming, since the message wasn't answered by anyone in the know - that it won't work in that situation - this makes it useless unless used for running or walking distances - and therefore useless to the large number of members (several thousand) who do not or are not capable of running or walking large distances. Surely this is a pity - and surely you have missed out on a large section of potential market!!
I would love to get one to test out in those situations - however we are prevented from doing so because I am one of the "international" members!!
So at present I cannot see my way clear to recomend it to my team members!! Report
I just ordered mine 2 days ago - there were only 14 left in stock! I use a heart rate monitor for another program but it's only good with outdoor exercising - with winter approaching, I'm hoping this is a great addition to keeping track of ALL my exercising. Can't wait! Report
I'd like to see side by side comparisons of the Spark fitness Tracker and other fitness trackers.Yea I get that this device computes data and synch's with your spark acct. but how does it actually compare to similar devices? Report
I just did a walk away the pounds video (3 mile walk) and it thinks I didn't even walk 1 mile. I even have it on my shoe. This is very upsetting to me. Report
How does the program distinguish between normal activity which determined the daily caloric intake and purposeful exercise to lose weight?
Syd Letz Report
Ordered mine through amazon and have had a week now. I am highly motivated to get up from my desk at work in order to log in some extra steps. It has been very accurate at tracking steps and mileage and knows the difference between walking and jogging. Can't wait to try it out with other workout routine. It's very rewarding when you exceed your step goal for the day! I have not had any problems with it not working or staying on my shoes/sneakers. I even clip it to my flip flops. So complaints! Report
Gadgets are fun and keep me motivated! I like the electronic interaction! It is a game I look forward to the challenge every day! Report
I like mine; not total love just yet. It does not track my steps walked in place as activity when doing an indoor walking program. When I am out for a walk at work it doesn't record it as activity if I have to stop to check for cars before crossing the street. It should give you a few seconds in between. It also does not track my circuit training as activity; I have to still add that manually. I am really looking forward to being able to sync it with my phone. I am not able to see my activity tracked all day while I am at work. I'm not able to load the software on my work computer so I have to wait until I get home at night. It has been an improvement over my pedometer for sure, though!! All in all, glad I bought it. Report
I love this tracker and I just can't say enough good things about it. It stays on my shoes, saves me time tracking and is a great motivator. It's the cats meow!! Report
Mine is on the way from Amazon and I honestly can't WAIT to try it out!!! Report
So much for shipping to Canada. The advertising says it ships to US & Canada but won't process my order BECAUSE I am using a Canadian address!!

Not pleased. Report
I too LIKE but don't LOVE my Spark. You can't argue with results and there is no question that it has made me more active. I'm incapable of being close to my goal or even a milestone above my goal and sitting idly by not working for that milestone. I walk in place while I do laundry, I'll walk around the block after dinner anything to get those steps. The two big downfalls to me is that you need the USB dongle to sync rather than syncing wirelessly. It keeps you tethered to one computer or you have to remember to carry it from work to home with you which isn't always easy to remember. Plus the dongle is teeny tiny and I just know I will lose it if I attempt to travel with it. An added frustration is that they won't even sell you an extra dongle if you want one at work and one at home or in the event you lose it, you have to repurchase the entire device. My other gripe is that when you change your goal it changes it for the past too. For example, it comes with the preset goal of 6,000 steps. I figured I would use it for a week to get my baseline and then adjust it. So I went from a goal of 6,000 to 7,000 on the 8th day and for all the days in that first week where I had hit the goal of 6,000 but not reached 7,000 it now says I did not hit my goal those days. I still have the Glow Getter trophies (I think) but the stats are black, not green. Now I think I'm ready to go for a goal of 8,000 but resist changing it because I don't want to loose my green 7,000 step days, so it's almost working against me. I also wish there was a way to see how far above your goal you have made it with the lights. Again, I do not regret the purchase but I am looking forward to The Spark 2.0 where they fix some of these fatal flaws. It really is impractical to have a two piece device that tethers you to a computer in this day and age. If nothing else make it so the Spark itself plugs into the computer to sync. But Bluetooth syncing to a smart phone would obviously be best. Report
I can understand why they are saying all these great things about the tracker. It just seems very strange that just a few months ago they were saying the exact same things about the fitbit. I have owned a fitbit since December and I love it. It has never had to be replaced, and it tracks the stairs I climb, sends me messages and tracks my sleep. I have read where the clip on the tracker has broken already and it has had to be replaced. I know it is a bit more money but the fitbit one does so much more and to me is worth the extra money. If the SP tracker was fully waterproof I would buy it just to swim, because being disabled that is where most of my exercise is done. Report
It says it is waterproof, but is that only for the accidental slip if it goes into the washing machine? Or can you keep it on while swimming laps and such? Report
I wouldn't mind trying it but what if I spent all that money on it and then I didn't love it as much as I love my FitBit? Report
I like the SPAT, no love yet. Not like my fitbit, although I wish SPAT would sync with the phone like fitbit it that it pops up a message that I'm near goal or exceeded my goal for the day (this would help with spending less time in front of a computer. Report