The wearable technology market share has grown tremendously over the last five years. The sports market projects growth to $200 billion by 2029, up from roughly 79.74 billion in 2021. That has dramatic implications for not only athletics but the modern consumer. Companies currently pioneering the wearable space, like Apple and Samsung, continue to diversify their product offerings.
Whoop, a smaller company out of Boston, is positioning itself as a juggernaut in the sports wearable market. Whoop is a personal digital fitness and health coach that tracks metrics like heart rate variability, sleep performance, respiratory rate, and much more. All while fitting snugly to your wrist, bicep, or the body, thanks to their new Whoop body line.
Whoop’s Key Features
- Sleep Tracking
- Recovery Metrics (RHR, HRV, Strain Score)
- Advanced Metrics (Skin Temperature, Respiratory Rate, Blood Oxygen)
- Activity Tracking
- Journal (Behaviors, Habits, Routines)
Before purchasing, there are a few things to note. Whoop operates on a membership model costing the user anywhere from $20 to $30 per month, depending on your terms. That is pricey for some, especially compared to the apple watch costing only a one-time fee. But, keep reading because the advanced capabilities of the Whoop may surprise you!
Whoop’s proprietary app seeks to optimize the users’ wellness using their so-called “strain score.” After analyzing data for one week at the onset, Whoop will use your baseline data to personalize activity, sleep, and recovery needs. Whoop monitor’s your health 24/7, allowing their algorithm to make daily fluctuations to your data.
Additionally, Whoop incorporates a daily habit questionnaire into its app. The daily questionnaire is fully customizable. Each morning you’ll be asked a series of questions about the previous day’s behaviors. Whoop consolidate’s your handpicked behaviors into a monthly report that will notate specific areas of progress or regression. My current questionnaire includes behaviors like caffeine usage, screen time, hydration, and supplementation. It will even track mental health variables such as self-efficacy, purpose, and energy.
Over time you can use this data to improve your lifestyle. For example, alcohol usage will affect my restorative sleep (REM & Deep), blast my HRV, and increase my resting heart rate. Conversely, hydration, limited food close to bedtime, and consistent aerobic activity all contribute positively to my restorative sleep and next-day recovery.
Whoop’s initial product offering was wristwear, following the theme of other fitness trackers. The Superknit band is “engineered with an ultra-soft backing and microfilament yarn for enhanced comfort and durability.” However, their latest product launches offer bicep bands and a comprehensive clothing line engineered to hold the tracking unit. The Superknit bands are waterproof with a stretchy, snug fit. The hook, clasp, and Fast link slider make swapping bands a breeze. Forewarning that they will take extra time to dry, so you may want to remove them in the shower.
The battery can be worn directly over the Whoop and is also waterproof. Battery life ranges from 3-4 days, so the accessibility of the battery is a plus. Unlike other fitness trackers, you don’t have to remove your Whoop to charge it up. The battery slides comfortably over the tracking unit.
The simplicity of its design is a favorable attribute. However, some will undoubtedly turn away because of a lack of a touch-screen interface: something users have been eager to point out. That is something Whoop prides itself on. By removing the display, they invest heavily into the app’s usability and features. Perhaps another way to differentiate themselves from competitors.
Remember that Whoop is not a watch. There is no display, and it doesn’t offer the same feature set as a Garmin or Apple Watch. So if you’re looking for a watch, this is not for you.
Now, if you’re looking for a comprehensive activity tracker, you’re in the right place. It will analyze activities like hiking, fencing, weightlifting, horseback riding, and beyond. Ultimately, the activity selection is merely to categorize your workouts. Whoop tracks your heart rate to calculate your activity strain. The higher your sustained heart rate, the higher the strain score.
A caveat to buyers; The Whoop isn’t ideal for tracking your resistance training.
That is by design. Resistance training, when done right, doesn’t demand as much from the aerobic system. In a word, your heart rate will be lower. So don’t expect those workouts to contribute significantly to your strain. The effects of your resistance training will materialize in your sleep and recovery scores instead.
Whoop will automatically use your heart rate data to record your sleep. Sleep data centers on the four main stages; Awake, Light (NREM), SWS (Deep), and REM. Other quantifiable metrics include wake events, disturbances, efficiency, and latency. Whoop will reveal a detailed graph of your heart rate during sleep in conjunction with the time spent in each of the four categories, culminating in the total sleep time.
While sleeping, Whoop will also log your respiratory rate, blood oxygen level, and skin temperature. Those added features will help establish a baseline of health where any deviations like sickness or stress will expose underlying concerns.
Upon waking, WHOOP calculates a green, yellow, or red recovery score on a scale of 0 to 100%. That score reveals if your body is ready to perform, needs an active recovery day, or requires rest. Recovery sits on four physiological metrics: Heart-rate variability (HRV), resting heart rate (RHR), sleep, and respiratory rate.
The last notable feature is the proprietary coaching component of the Whoop. Like many, you’re probably wondering how to use your data to improve various aspects of your life. It’s not enough to have the data. It’s only as constructive as your ability to interpret and apply the information.
The Strain Coach recommends a daily target exertion range based on your recovery score from the morning. That will keep you from overtraining. The Sleep Coach will provide personalized bed and wake times based on your daily effort and performance from the night prior. The haptic alarm system will wake you up by sending subtle vibrations to your Whoop at the optimal time in your sleep cycle based on your performance and needs.
While keeping your baseline data, Whoop will alert you to any irregularities over time. The implications are noteworthy because they may illuminate the onset of illness, injury, or accumulated stress. Whoop can fully integrate with your Apple Health, and you can also download monthly reports to use and share with doctors and other health practitioners in your network.
Whoop also has a diverse community full of like-minded members who share the same passion for health and fitness. Whoop experts provide in-app Q&A sessions to support users. Users can create and join teams to share data, track progress, and encourage accountability. There is an additional chat feature to speak with members about any health-related concerns.
My goal in this article is to share the facts so you can make the best decision possible. With that said, I don’t know if the Whoop is appropriate for you. If you care about using actionable data to change your behaviors, then it will be worth it to you. If you like to track your workouts and see the calories you burn, then probably not. Whoop is personalized coaching software, not a fitness watch. If you’re a fitness enthusiast or an athlete, then consider buying. It is expensive! But the data speaks for itself. As a personal trainer, I firmly believe the Whoop is worth the price. Should it be free? You wouldn’t value the software if it were free. If you think it’s too expensive, you’re not the target audience, and that’s perfectly fine.
There are plenty of fitness trackers on the market that provides similar features. Do your homework by asking the right questions. What is most important to you? Do you want to track your behaviors? Do you even care about the data? Because Whoop isn’t a statement piece like the Apple Watch is. Whoop has a robust, niche audience committed to its mission. Often we buy with our hearts, and Whoop shares that sense of belonging with those willing to listen.
All to say, clarify your goals before purchasing. Work backward from your needs and wants to find the appropriate fit for you.