Tag Archives: FitBit

TomTom Spark Cardio + Music

31 May

I love my TomTom Spark Cardio + Music! And a disclaimer from me—this review is fairly glowing, because I genuinely love my TomTom. I didn’t get anything at all for writing this review and I don’t work for the company or anything—this is just an ideal product for me and it took a LOT of trail and error on my part to find it. This is also NOT my first rodeo with fitness trackers. Prior to this I had a FitBit Zip and a Garmin ____ 2 (as well as various phone-apps). I like this tracker best, and here’s why:

I hate carrying things. I’m the gal who will forget my jacket or purse in the booth at a restaurant. Pockets in women’s clothes are not large enough to accommodate a phone, and will look like an ugly bulge if you do. Also, I’m afraid the phone will drop out of a pocket. Once, I tried an arm band to hold my i-pod (and in theory you could use one for a phone) and liked it at first. But the tan lines were crazy, and it started rubbing in a bad way because of sweat—so I loved the arm band less. Also I couldn’t see my upper-arm well enough to skip songs or skip the volume, especially without breaking stride. And the number one reason arm bands don’t work, is eventually mine got bigger and became a leg band, then when it grew large enough to become a belt, I tossed it. So I bought a legit, moisture-wicking running belt to carry my phone. I like it for walking around the city hands-free, but for running it has too much weight bouncing around, and I’m paranoid my phone will fall out. So the option of just wearing a watch and stringing cordless headphones through my hat—awesome!!! The number one, greatest thing over every other tracker is my ability to run/sport hands-free. I absolutely LOOOOVVED running with nothing in my hands and no cords, but still having all the data and my tunes!

tomtom spark cardio plus music

The band is about the same size as the one I bought in order to have my FitBit Zip on my wrist. And the TomTom’s band is negligibly larger than the Garmin’s. What makes it superior, is the fact the band goes through a watch-like mechanism and the loop latches down, the through end latches down, and there is a third latch that locks the band in place. My FitFit arm band just hooked one end to the other and had a cheap little plastic portion that went over that. The Garmin was slightly better then my FitBit watch because it _____________, but this is the most secure. I am not afraid it will come open at any time. Also, just like the FitBit, you can trade out the band for fancy colors or when your first one looks a little worse for wear. There are a lot less options right now then there were for FitBit, so I’m hoping for some power yellow, or patterns to come on the market soon.

The face of the tracker is very large. This is great for display purposes, because I can see it without breaking my stride too much during a run, whereas I had to really peer at the tiny FitBit Zip and sideways Garmin displays. This is only OK for wearability, so I put the face on the inside of my wrist so every outfit doesn’t scream, “fitness nerd!” and it is a little. . . Less. And yes, it still seems to track my heart rate accurately worn that way.

Speaking of the display, I didn’t think I would like the color of the numbers on the TomTom. My Garmin’s digital with backlight had made me pretty happy. I compare these to white road paint—they just sort of glow, but not by indiglow. And it goes without saying the tiny, unlighted/unglowing digital font in the FitBit fares worst—you have to peer at it in every scenario. Aside from the reflecti-color, the font is very large on the TomTom, and if you really can’t handle not having light, you just hold your hand over the face for a few seconds and it will light up. I found I usually don’t have to go to that extent, but it hasn’t been a nuisance when I’ve had to. Also, I think there might be a setting that let’s you trade all-the-time backlighting for battery drainage.

As for battery, I have not had a problem. I wear my TomTom all day as a pedometer and watch as much as for fitness tracking. It lasted a 12 hour work day just fine. My FitBit was constantly needing a new battery (like every 2-3 weeks) and the garmin was supposed to last a year. I just charge my TomTom through the night while I sleep and it’s worked out OK for me.

The music—is awesome! I used to run with my i-pod. It was one of the thin ones and help 16GB so it wasn’t terrible. But I had to hold something, and my headphone cord had to be tucked through my clothes. Then, the cord was too short for a full arm swing, so I was constantly fighting to keep my arm swing from pulling the ear buds out of my ears. This was a horrible nuisance on long runs and on the timed, sprints absolutely slowed me down. How can you sprint your fastest without having a full arm? And you either had to slow down to re-tuck the headphones in the top of the sports bra or just continue on with one ear bud getting pulled out. My TomTom, isn’t that different of a set up from the i-pods. I physically hook it to my computer in the same way. I pick some (but not all) playlists from i-tunes, which I had been doing with my i-pod anyway. The display will accommodate ____________ playlists and the music itself can’t exceed 3 GB. My i-pod held 16GB, but I rarely used all of those songs on my run, and I can just soup up my “workout” playlist if I want more variety. I bought the combo TomTom/headphones package for just-in-case, because I wanted to be certain I could play my tunes—because let’s be real, this tracker’s main selling point is its ability to play music. Then, all I had to do was navigate “up” one screen on my watch and hold the middle button of the headphones until it flashed red/blue. They paired very quickly and that was that. The headphones screw into your ears and I just pull them through my running hat in case the buds fall out of my ears during a run (there has never been even a threat of that). I can play any individual playlist straight through, shuffle any individual playlist, or shuffle all the music I imported. The sound is just as good as my i-pod. If I am not feeling a song that comes up, I can navigate “up” on the watch then “right” to skip, “left” to re-play. The only thing I don’t like about that is, IF you’re already in the middle of tacking an activity, you have to go back passed the start menu for said-activity to change the song. That ends the activity and once, I was in the middle of a timed mile and accidently ended my time/distance by skipping a song. Now, I just use the controls on the headphones—hold the front button for 2 sec to change the song without messing up my running stats.

The data does pretty much everything I want and more, and I read numerous times the heart monitor is the most accurate on the market—and bonus, no chest strap required! You can even see your bpm while you’re running and on a graph with your speed/pace later. And there is a setting for you to run in a certain heart rate zone with voiceovers that make sure you do.

The sleep tracker is not really a thing. It pretty much gives you the hours slept and leaves any other information out. The Garmin showed movement and told me when I was in light sleep vs. deep sleep with a graph and I found that very useful. This one just wants to name sleep as a feature—so I just charge my TomTom to my computer at night instead. To improve the sleep function the need to track movement and give me graphs like the Garmin. And allow me to write notes on the night like the Garmin. Oh, and have a smaller band to trade out for sleep purposes, because I slept fine in this, but it could have been more comfortable. Never mind—if you want in-depth sleep analysis get a tracker specifically for that, because even the Garmin, which was better, was still not that informative. Or best yet, get a sleep study.

I like that it will sync automatically to the phone app or I can do it at the computer. I really HATED having to always manually sync the Garmin, because my FitBit had always auto-synced if I was in proximity to my computer. So the TomTom’s syncing has been working out. The only thing I like less about the TomTom, is the MySports computer program isn’t as souped up as my FitBit program had been. For instance, I can’t invite friends to see their progress and I can’t track (or sync) food and water. If I could see my mate’s and mom’s step count and link MySports to LoseIt—my TomTom would be absolutely perfect for me.
My favorite thing about FitBit—the huge array of replacement bands and the data-heavy social website. My favorite thing about the Garmin—the tone telling me I had been sedentary too long . But don’t let the TomTom’s mediocre reviews scare you off. If you hate carrying things (even a phone) and love exercising with music I highly recommend this tracker!

Fit Bit Stride Length

26 Aug

Mine is elusive.  It’s a difficult thing to figure out anyway.  Then, mine varies depending on location (treadmill, path, all-weather track), speed, and ???  Who knows what else.  The point is, who can figure this out?  And who can do it so its consistent and accurate?

I made an attempt.  And it may be a poor one, and it’s only accurate some of the time, but this is as good as it gets, without professional input.  Here’s the equation I found online:

(63360 inches * mile) divided by # steps = average stride (in inches) divided by 12 = avg stride (feet)

The accumulation of data:

We walked down the bicycle trail by our apartment, noting the FitBit milage, then watching the FitBit until it said an exact mile had passed.  We walked away from the apartment at my pace, and my FitBit got to my mile before Cool’s (though we walked the distance together).

My Pace:

L- 1 mile in 14 min (4.3 mph pace)= 1722 steps

C- 1 mile in 16 min (3.8 mph pace)= 2063 steps

The discrepancy is probably the stride length we had previously programmed in our individual FitBits.  Still, things got weirder on the way home.  You would think the walk back would put us at approximately our apartment.  Nope, at Cool’s pace mine took me past our start point.  Cool’s took us down a rabbit hole making us walk far, far past our apartment before registering 1 mile.

Cool’s Pace:

L-  1 mile in 20 min (3.0 mph pace)= 2330 steps

C- 1 mile in 41 min (1.5 mph pace)=4931 steps

I don’t know either.  But obviously something is terribly wrong.  At any rate, with those numbers that put stride length (using the above formula) and recorded as mine(my pace), mine(at Cool’s pace) etc at:





For my average walking pace as 2 feet 6.4 inches and Cool’s crazy average walking pace as 1 foot 7.6 inches.  Which despite the huge problems in milage does seem in the ballpark.

My running stride length was even more complicated, because I ran a single lap in the various lanes (of slight distance variations, due to the circle).  Then, I ran a continuous mile to see if it made a difference.  And I walked around the track to confirm my walking pace on a known distance.  Of course all of those distances occurred at different speeds.  So I got rough averages.

Lanes:  Using (63360)(miles)/# steps

–>the IAAF has standardized track lanes that are 1.22 meters wide.

lane 8 = 453.66 m = 0.2835 mi

lane 7 = 446 m = 0.2786 mi

lane 6 = 433.38 m = 0.2709 mi

lane 5 =  430.66 m = 0.2692 mi

lane 4 = 423 m = 0.2644 mi

lane 3 = 415.33 m = 0.2596 mi

lane 2 = 407.67 m = 0.2548 mi

lane 1 = 400 m = 0.25 mi

Speed Counts:

 In a 9 min/mi, I take 1540 steps

In a 7:50 min/mi I only take 1326 steps

My average stride length for walking (using 5 laps) = 2 ft 3.1 in

Distance Counts:

My average stride length for 1 lap (out of 7 different laps) = 3 ft 4.4 in

My average mile stride (for 5 different miles) = 3 ft 4.5 in

Anyway, that’s a lot of math to say that the Fit Bit isn’t going to give me exact distances, because there are too many variable involved to keep an accurate stride length over a whole day’s distance/speed/elevation/etc. . .