I was recently sent the TomTom Spark Cardio and Music GPS fitness watch along with bluetooth headphones to review.
I gave up running outside a couple of years ago, as I had severe hip and back issues that were quite debilitating. I’ve only in recent months gotten back to using my treadmill again, but decided that the arrival of the watch would be a good time to start upping my exercise and pushing myself a bit harder.
Typically, this coincided with one of my children being ill for a week and me being housebound. I managed to sneak in a bit of treadmill running last week, but had to wait til this week to get outside for a run – I won’t lie it half killed me, but the sense of achievement afterwards was well worth it.
Anyway less waffle, here is how I got on with the TomTom Spark.
TomTom Spark Uses
You can use the GPS fitness watch as a pedometer to count your steps every day that you wear it, when swimming, running, running on a treadmill, for gym workouts, cycling, stationary bike use and for any exercise with the freestyle option.
If you have the feature turned on, it records your heart rate, it also will tell you your pace speed, how long you have been doing an activity, how many calories you’ve burned, distance covered and also handily has a stopwatch option.
Added to all of that you can store around 500 songs on it and listen to the music as you run, through the TomTom bluetooth headphones.
It can of course also function as an actual watch, with the time display being big and bold so therefore easy to see no matter what activity you are doing. I find the fact it has the date on handy, as I can never remember the date and it saves me digging around in my bag for my phone to check.
If its dark, you can even light the display of the watch up by putting your hand over the screen briefly.
The TomTom Spark GPS watch is really easy to set up, you just first need to give it a good charge with the USB charger. If like myself you rarely read instructions and therefore are mystified on how the charger plugs into the watch, then you may struggle for a few moments.
Basically it is really simple, you just need to remove the black watch part from the rubbery strap part and then plug it in. A battery display appears on the watch screen, so you can see when it is fully charged and ready to go.
Once I charged my watch I popped to the TomTom Get Started webpage to download the desktop app and I also downloaded the TomTom MySports app for my android phone.
I filled in my profile with my height, weight and a few other details and it was good to go – the black square is your navigational button by the way, TomTom have made it fit with the watch so well it took me a little while to realise. I think the theme of this review is going to be ‘Don’t be like me – actually read the instructions……’
The pedometer on the Spark is working all the time that you wear the watch and after several days stuck in with a poorly boy and thinking my steps looked dire, I discovered that you can not cheat the watch.
Previous pedometers that I have tried, you could shake them a bit and voila magically have gained a few hundred ‘steps’, but the Spark is so much more accurate. It doesn’t even add random steps when I am typing at the laptop, which I am pleased about.
With poorly boy back at school this week, my steps have been edging ever closer to the illusive 10,000 a day that was pre-set as my target – you can change the targets to suit you if you want to do more or less steps for any reason.
The pedometer function has had me moving around a lot more than I was, as I realised just how sedentary I had become…. I’m surprised I haven’t sprouted roots…
I really like that you can press the button and see how many steps you have done that day or for the whole week so far, it’s great seeing them accumulate.
Bluetooth headphones and music
The headphones will need charging before you use them, they come with their own usb charger that plugs in under a little flap on the headphones. They charge pretty quickly, and the TomTom Spark is already pre-loaded with a ministry of sound running album to test them out with.
Before you use the headphones with the TomTom (or anything else) they need to be paired with it. To do this, make sure you hold down the little button in the middle of the headphones until the light on them starts to flash blue and red. Once this happens, you then press upwards on the TomTom and the watch will pair itself with the headphones.
It takes a few seconds to do so, but will only work if you have the headphones flashing before the TomTom starts searching, so make sure you do it in the right order.
I was skeptical at first that the headphones would stay in my ears when running, as normal ones never do for me. However they did, when running on the treadmill they stayed right where they should be and it was lovely to be able to listen to music without having wires to tuck into my vest top or working their way loose mid run.
If you have the wires up and over your ears, the headphones really are very secure. Mid run if you want to pause the music for any reason, you can press the button in the middle of the headphones easily to stop or restart it. The two other buttons on the headphones let you adjust the volume, and are so easy to access whilst running.
You can load your own music on to the TomTom and it’s really simple to do, then you can choose between playlists before you start your run or other form of exercise – I listen to my TomTom whilst cleaning as well – which ever playlist you choose to listen to, you can set it to shuffle for the surprise element or to stop getting bored.
TIP: If you are struggling to load your own music on to the TomTom, then what you need to do is put the music you want to put on it in a folder on your desktop – if you use itunes, just click and drag the songs you want out in to a folder first – then highlight all of the songs, right click and select to send to the TomTom Spark. The photo below shows what I mean.
Don’t be like me (yep there it is again)….. don’t make your first run with the TomTom Spark a pretty epic effort and feel proud of your achievement… and then realise that you forgot to press ‘go’ on your watch. Although, it did then encourage me to push myself again afterwards hard so that I could actually see how it all looked on the apps afterwards.
I like that as you run you can glance at the watch and see not only how long you’ve been running for, but also the distance, pace, average pace, calories burnt and your blood pressure/heart rate. It’s all easy to see at a glance or a quick press of the button and it’s handy you can still keep an eye on the actual time too.
I used to think that I was running for quite a long time outside, even though I didn’t actually time myself as it seemed like a long time. This week running with the TomTom has revealed to me, that I really wasn’t. With the TomTom on I can now accurately see how long I’ve been running for and how far plus lots of other nifty things like I mentioned above.
This has had the effect that I am now running for longer than I used to, as I am pushing myself to just keep going for a few more minutes or to reach that next mile. I can’t lie to myself with this watch, so it really makes me push myself through that barrier and makes me run further and harder than I would have otherwise.
I have a long way to go fitness wise, but I’m glad I have restarted the journey.
Before you actually go for a run outside you just have to spend about a minute selecting the run function and waiting for the watch’s GPS to find the satellite to pinpoint where you are for the whole run. This bit I find pretty amazing personally, having never had a GPS watch before.
I loved looking on the app and seeing my running route. The app also gives you all sorts of extra tools and info to play around with on both the desktop and the phone app.
I’m slightly embarrassed how slow I was ha, but I’m building up and had to walk for parts of it. I returned on the same path, but if you do a circuit for your run, it will show both routes clearly.
Looking on the apps I can see how my heart rate was throughout the run and all sorts of other details that I was impressed to see.
Cycling and Swimming
I didn’t get to test out the cycling function as I can’t actually ride a bike – yes I know it’s meant to be one of the easiest things to do and small children can do it, but I have an awful sense of balance.
We also haven’t been swimming for ages, but I will be wearing it to swim next time we go. If you want to know more about the swimming functions, pop over to Plutonium Sox’s TomTom review as Natalie did take her watch swimming with her.
I can honestly say that I am actually a little overwhelmed with quite how great this watch is. There are functions I haven’t used yet such as the sleep tracker, as I sleep like a log for as long as possible basically so I don’t feel I need it, and I haven’t set myself goals on there as at the moment – my main goal is just to push as hard as I can.
Everything I have used has worked perfectly though and I’m looking forward to tracking more of my runs and seeing how much I am hopefully improving as time goes on.
The watch makes it so easy to track the calories you’ve burnt and how active you are, it also encourages you to be more active and work harder to boost those numbers.
I honestly can not think of a single thing that I dislike about it and even after this review it will be on my wrist. It is really comfortable to wear and I like the way it looks. It even fits my small wrists and doesn’t look gigantic on there.
Would I have bought it myself….. if I was likely to have a spare £229.99 then I would have if I’d known how great it was! You can buy cheaper TomTom watches from their range, but this one saves the need for a separate mp3 player for running and comes with brilliant headphones so I do think it’s worth it personally. In fact on the TomTom website at the moment you can get the watch and headphones for £189.99, as they have a special offer to buy the TomTom Spark watch and get the headphones free.
*I was sent the items in this post for the purpose of an honest review and as always that is what I have given*