Humans have fallen in love with our health data being tracked by our smartphones, smartwatches and/or fitness trackers. We love seeing our step count, how many hours of sleep we got and even what our heart rate is throughout the day. Companies like Fitbit, Wyze and even Apple have created wearable devices that passively gather this data throughout the day, so we can synthesize it and gain a better understanding of ourselves and our activity. I’m here to tell you about the gold standard of all these devices: the WHOOP Strap.
WHOOP Band Membership
WHOOP started way back in 2011, but it has gained mass appeal and popularity in the last couple of years for its high-tech, wearable device that provides metrics far deeper than a standing goal or number of steps. WHOOP is worn by athletes in the NBA, NFL and PGA Tour, and despite being designed for pro athletes it has useful data for any human with a heart, lungs and muscles. The WHOOP strap tracks in-depth, granular meetrics 24/7 so you gain a well-rounded, holistic vision of you and your health. It’s lightweight, waterproof and has a 5-day battery life and a wearable charger so you never have to take it off.
The WHOOP strap tracks three main areas of your physical state: sleep, recovery and strain, and dives deep into each one. WHOOP tells you not only exactly how much sleep you got, but compares that number with how much time you spent in bed, and tells you when you need to get in bed each night to reach your sleep goals. The strap also tracks your body’s physiological state in relation to recovery, and tells you how prepared you are for the day ahead based on a wide variety of factors. Based on that recovery data, the strap gives you an exertion level recommendation for making progress without injury or overtraining. This is what sets the device apart: the recovery score, calculated based on a whole bunch of physiological factors.
The device gives you more specific data about your body than the average fitness tracker, like information about your resting heart rate and your heart rate variability. HRV is the change in time between each heartbeat, and fitness physiologists believe it’s one of the best tools in determining what an optimal training load is. Resting heart rate, or RHR, measures your heart rate each night during deep sleep, and is useful information when progressing through training cycles as well. WHOOP also monitors your respiratory rate and can indicate signs of potential illness or physical complications via that data.
WHOOP provides information previously not accessible unless under the guise of a medical professional, and now it’s in your hands, and delivered to you in an accessible way, via at app. The strap syncs up with an app that has a built-in virtual Strain Coach and Sleep Coach, who help you qualify the info you’re given and provide recommendations. Users of this product have experienced 60% fewer injuries, consumed 79% less booze before bed (something guaranteed to torpedo your recovery score), and experienced less exhausting travel experiences.
My boyfriend has a WHOOP band and absolutely loves it. He’s a troubled sleeper, so it’s really helped him understand his circadian rhythm and plan when he needs to get in bed in order to get an adequate amount of sleep. Your sleep is broken down into three categories: quality, efficiency and consistency, and you’re truly coached on how to get better in each area.
The recovery score reflects not just how much sleep he’s gotten but how much water he’s had to drink, what type of workout he did, how much alcohol he consumed and where he’s at with his training goals.
Even if you’re not a particularly fitness-inclined person, the strap can give you insights into your health that would otherwise be inaccessible outside of a doctor’s office. We all need more sleep, and being a human in the world, regardless of whether you exercise or not, puts strain on your body. Wouldn’t it be helpful to learn whether you’re giving your body enough recovery time for the stress it’s under? This info could help you preemptively avoid injury, illness or long-term health complications.
WHOOP’s Membership Plans
WHOOP’s latest strap, the 3.0 edition, comes with the app membership and a whole community of users to connect with. The in-depth, 24/7 analytics are accessible on Android, iOS and desktop as well. The membership costs $18/month for an 18-month membership, $24/month for an annual membership and $30/month for a 6-month membership. The strap comes with the membership, and the most basic option is the plain black Onyx strap, but they’ve got more colorful options for $25-$40 extra.
Once you join, they’ve got WHOOP teams you can join as well as WHOOP live, their program where you can record metrics in real-time and upload them for coach evaluation. High tech.
I wore the WHOOP band myself for a few weeks and while the data it displayed was impressive, I ultimately decided that it wasn’t for me. I already wear an Apple Watch and so wearing another thick, tight-fitting tracker on my other wrist felt like too much. However, I did enjoy checking on my recovery score and getting more in-depth knowledge about my daily health delivered to me. The information the WHOOP can give you — from the recovery score to your HRV, respiratory rate and optimal daily strain — is all super interesting and they deliver it to you in an accessible way.
I will say, while my sleep score was consistently very good my recovery score never got to an optimal level. I’m not entirely sure why that is, and while I searched WHOOP’s resources for an answer I couldn’t find one. The sleep data also wasn’t as in-depth as I wanted it to be, and didn’t give me a breakdown of when I was restless during the night or when I woke up. It simply counted disturbances and the amount of time spent in REM sleep. Their sleep data is more in-depth than other, similar trackers, but I would be interested in receiving that data as well.
The strap itself is a tad uncomfortable to wear, especially given how tightly you have to wear it for the information to be accurate. The charger is quite easy to use, and the band’s battery did last for a very long time just like they promise.
As a fitness tracker, it’s very in-depth and great for downloads of information after you’ve finished working out. However, information like heart rate, mileage, etc isn’t displayed and isn’t readily available while you’re exercising like it is on a FitBit or Apple Watch. I also found the strain coach a bit confusing.
If you’re a professional athlete or someone who’s day-to-day life is dominated by fitness, I could see this product being more useful. However, if you’re an average user who’s looking for a tool to improve your overall wellness, the WHOOP might lack the information you want and give you too much of the information you don’t need.