I can be a real dick to my body sometimes. I go on long runs when I’m sick, work on my laptop until 3 a.m., and book early-morning workout classes while I’m still drunk. (Disclaimer: Cosmo does not recommend swinging kettlebells with a nasty hangover.) Today, I’m writing this review with only four hours and 37 minutes of zzz’s under my belt when I *should* have slept for eight hours and 34 minutes. At least that’s what my WHOOP tells me, anyway.
What’s a WHOOP, you ask? I had the same question, dear reader, when I saw these fitness bands speckling the wrists of runners and lifestyle editors that I follow (and respect) on Instagram. I needed to know what set these lil guys apart from all the other devices that remind us sentient potatoes to move and breathe every so often, so I decided to find out by wearing one for 30 days.
WHOOP isn’t like the other guys
It will not count your steps or clap when you stand up from your desk. Instead, this wristband is a quiet observer that sleeps with you, works out with you, and watches how you react to life’s stressful moments. (TBH, its astrological sign is probably Scorpio or Pisces.) WHOOP takes time to learn about your body, workouts, and daily habits, so it can properly give you a grade based on your strain score, sleep performance, and recovery performance.
Here, the amount of pressure your heart takes during a specific activity is measured. After you complete a workout, WHOOP will ask you to rate your performance on a scale from “weak” to “peak.” As you can see, my scores varied across different activities like cycling, yoga, running, and weightlifting.(My scores for competitive dishwashing and jumping rope with my beloved CrossRope are too hot for y’all to handle.)
At the end of the day, WHOOP also awards you with a day strain score, which combines all activities over a 24-hour period.
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Did you know that you’re supposed to get ~really~ deep sleep (like, 3-5 REM cycles each night) in order to recover from your workouts and get stronger? Lol, I don’t do this! I stay up binge-watching episodes of Hot Ones and then wake up at the crack of dawn to squeeze in a workout before heading to the office. By the end of the week, my body feels exhausted, my mind feels crispy, and I’m ready to sleep through the entire weekend.
WHOOP’s emphasis on sleep reminds you to value your time in bed (as if you already didn’t). Every morning, the app prompts you with a survey to ask about the details surrounding your sleep: Did you have two or more caffeinated beverages within four hours of bedtime? Did you have two or more alcoholic drinks within two hours of bedtime? Did you share your bed? The answers you provide and your heart rate data yield your daily sleep performance number, which tells you how well you slept.
On days when WHOOP wasn’t happy with my pitiful sleep performance, it would tell me to nap, and I’d reply, “GIRL, WHEN?!” If you can’t sneak in a nap at your desk, you can open the app’s Sleep Coach, which tells you when you should go to bed if you want to be your best self the next day.
WHOOP also keeps track of how well your body gets back on track from all the BS you handled like a boss the previous day. In the morning, the app will ask you a few questions (I promise they’re quick and don’t feel like homework). Like, how are your energy levels? How sore do you feel? Do you feel stressed, sick, or injured? It combines your answers with data surrounding your heart rate variability (HRV), your resting heart rate (RHR), and your sleep score. “These metrics are calibrated to your baseline, which means your recovery is personalized each day,” WHOOP’s website says.
I often found that my recovery scores were spot on with how I was feeling IRL. For example, one week during my trial period, I knew that I was running my body down by exercising too hard every morning and working late every night. This harmful cycle was reflected by my sad, pathetic yellow and red recovery scores. I took the hint and skipped the gym so I could sleep in and feel alive again. (Yes, it worked.)
What’s the cost of WHOOP?
By now, you’re probably wondering how much money you have to drop on this thing. The good news is that the device is free, but you have to agree to a six-month subscription that costs $30/month—a $180 commitment.
Does WHOOP work with other apps?
Sadly, WHOOP doesn’t work with other fitness apps like Strava, Nike Run Club, or MyFitnessPal, so you won’t be able to use the two together, but a marketing manager at WHOOP disclosed that they want to make this happen in the near future. 🤞🏼In the meantime, you can now create teams with other WHOOP users.
Can WHOOP’s data be uploaded on social media?
You can record and download videos featuring your WHOOP data to post on any social platform, like mine at the bottom of the page. That way, your enemies will finally understand just how powerful you are.
Does WHOOP have a clock?
For selfish reasons, I like to have something to tap on when I need to exit an uncomfortable conversation quickly. I’d also appreciate some visible heart rate data so I can see if my heart is about to explode during a run.
How’s WHOOP’s battery?
WHOOP’s five-day battery life doesn’t live up to its promise, but it does last longer than the charge on my Apple Watch. I had to charge my battery every three to four days.
What are the cons?
If you want to get the best use out of your WHOOP, you have to zhuzh your data pretty frequently. One time, WHOOP thought I was working out when I was simply washing dishes. ☹️ This strap is trying to be perfect, but it still needs a little bit of guidance, meaning that you sometimes have to edit the duration of your workouts and sleep to match up with reality.
How does the data work?
After putting in some work for 30 days, you’ll receive a weekly performance assessment that analyzes all your data and gives you some pointers on how to be kinder to yourself the next week. Data nerds, rejoice.
While I wasn’t always able to make my WHOOP proud in the gym, it did inspire me to tweak my bedtime behaviors to improve the quality of my zzz’s. I worked in bed less, drank fewer glasses of wine after 8 p.m., and told my regular bed mate to get a WHOOP so he could understand why I needed eight hours and 34 minutes of deep beauty sleep before we could cuddle in the morning. Given that my recovery score almost always felt accurate, I will definitely continue to wear the tracker over the next few months while I train for a half-marathon and use the data to guide my runs.
Oh, and Whoop, can I please have a Sex Score? I am competitive in all aspects of life and I’d love to know when I out-perform my partner in bed.