Putting the Polar Ignite to the Real Test

polar ignite
Polar Ignite in white

The Polar Ignite is a fitness tracker that is kind of like a trainer on your wrist recommending fitness activities based upon your fitness level. There are other watches that offer similar guidance but the Ignite bases the recommendations on your training history, VO2Max, and your training background. Polar calls this feature FitSpark.

Training history is determined from activities that you do while wearing the watch over several days. You’ll get more personalized suggestions as the watch gets to know you better. VO2Max is determined from a simple test that is done while wearing the watch. All you have to do is lay down and run the test. Pretty simple. Training background is how often you have worked out weekly in the past, like 1-3 days a week, etc. You provide this information so be honest!

All the reviews on fitness trackers and smartwatches I have done before have been focused mostly on how accurate the heart rate sensor is, GPS, etc., but this time I’m mostly interested in finding out if I can follow the recommendations of the watch and improve my fitness level after 30 days.

I’ve briefly tried training programs using Garmin and Fitbit but those are primarily focused on running and I’m not interested in running a 5k. I’m mostly interested in improving my overall fitness, reducing muscle aches and strain, and becoming stronger. So, I prefer how Polar has approached their guided training programs. They’re based off of my needs, fitness level and interests and not that of a dedicated runner. But if you love to run you can certainly do that too.

Every day you’ll get recommendations for the type of workout you should do and there are 4 different activities to choose from so if the first recommendation doesn’t float your boat or fit into your schedule you have others to choose from.

For example, today’s recommended activity was a 1 hour and 25 minute cardio workout. That didn’t really fit into my schedule so I opted for the 15 minute core workout. So there is flexibility in the guidance.

When doing the bodyweight workout for example, the watch will give you a preview of what activities you’ll be doing during the workout and as you do those activities the watch will vibrate and let you know when to switch to the new activity. There’s also rest periods. Some of the activities I did during the bodyweight workout were push-ups, crunches, and squats and it was easy to follow along.

Well, it was easy to know what I was supposed to be doing thanks to the Polar Ignite. Those push-ups weren’t easy to do though! I hope I get better at that. Ha

polar ignite guided workouts
Guided workouts on the Polar Ignite

Yes, I’ll be testing HR, GPS, and other features but the core purpose of the Polar Ignite is to be a coach, a motivator, and a brutally honest friend as you begin your journey to a more fit physique.

And it was brutally honest with my VO2Max score of 28 which isn’t all that great. So we’ll see if the score improves in a month.

The Ignite supports a wide variety of workout activities and you can choose 20 of your favorite activities to be stored on the watch. For example, on my Polar Ignite I have hiking, outdoor cycling, pilates, indoor cycling, treadmill run, pool swimming, indoor rowing, kayaking, strength training, yoga, running, swimming (open water), cross-trainer, group exercise, and walking installed but there’s lots of others to choose from depending upon what you personally like to do.

The ignite features a touchscreen display and has a single button on the left side. It is different than any other watch I’ve used in the past. If you’re coming from Garmin or Fitbit the Polar experience behaves like a whole different critter.

The mobile app, Polar Flow, is different than anything I’ve used too but the biggest difference is that the Ignite is pretty much entirely focused on improving your fitness level. You’re not going to get distracted by fancy watch faces (there’s only two to choose from), apps, or other typical smartwatch features that can make you forget the purpose of having a fitness tracker in the first place.

Step counting also takes a backseat with Polar. It does count your steps but it’s much more interested in encouraging workouts that are truly going to improve your fitness health. I walk 10,000+ steps a day at work and I know that all that walking hasn’t really benefited my health much.

I still come home tired, sore, and with muscle strain from being on my feet all day. I’ve learned that physical activity at work is no substitute for working out at home, outdoors, or in the gym and my VO2Max score certainly shows it.

I know I need to improve my strength, core, and lose a few pounds. So, we’ll see how well I’m able to follow along with the Ignite’s suggestions and I’ll let you know how things go in the full review.

Look for the review in about a month. I want to use the watch for a full 30 days before reporting my results. This article will be updated with a link to the review when it is ready.

In the meantime, here are the specs of the Polar Ignite.

polar ignite specs
Optical heart rate sensor, built-in GPS, water resistant to 30 meters, quick release bands

Polar Ignite Specs

  • 43 x 43 x 8.5 mm (that’s a thin watch which is nice!)
  • color touch screen display (not the prettiest or most responsive but it gets the job done)
  • ambient light sensor and it is readable in bright sunlight
  • Dragontrail glass lens
  • 36 grams in weight
  • 165 mAh Li-pol battery
  • 17 hour battery life in training mode (that’s using GPS and the heart rate sensor continuously)
  • 5 day battery life in smartwatch mode (with continuous HR monitoring)
  • case is composed of glass fiber reinforced polymer
  • stainless steel bezel and button
  • comes in three colors and the black/silver option has a TPU plastic watch band; white/silver and black/yellow has silicone watch band
  • available in two different band sizes – small fits wrist circumference of 130-185mm and M/L fits 155 – 210 mm wrists
  • built-in GPS (GPS + GlONASS) and assisted GPS for quick fix times (uses your smartphone if paired with the watch)
  • compatible with Polar BLE heart rate sensors
  • water resistant to 30 meters so suitable for swimming – pool and open water swimming supported
  • can be set up and used without a smartphone right out of the box, if you prefer to set it up that way, but you’ll need to connect with a computer or the Polar Flow mobile app for software updates
  • supports smartwatch notifications (you can’t respond to them)
  • compatible with iOS and Android smartphones

If you’re interested in purchasing the Polar Ignite you can check it out on Amazon.