Whoop strap

Whoop Strap Review: Promising, but not yet there

Interested in the Whoop strap tracker? It’s a wrist tracker that promises predictive suggestions to improve your training and performance. Here’s my review.

Time Owned: 2 months

TLDR: Do I recommend the Whoop?


No, if you seek real value for the money. The Whoop doesn’t yet deliver on the promises of its marketing, and costs $180 upfront for the first 6 months ($30/mo thereafter).

Yes, if you have expendable income and enjoy testing new gadgets. The strap is progressive and cool but does not yield real insights yet.

What do I love about the Whoop strap?

  • The concept of predictive insights is amazing.
    • It’s such a cool idea to use HRV (heart rate variability) and sleep and strain (cumulative activity) to give predictive insights to the wearer about how well they will perform.*
  • The sleep suggestions are motivating.
    • The app suggests exactly much sleep I should get tonight to optimize for tomorrow.
      (Note that the suggestions get better over time – it started by recommending 9+ hours of sleep to me a night – which for me is way too much, but it has adapted.)
  • The daily sleep survey makes me more mindful.
    • The prompts about pre-sleep behaviors probably don’t factor into their algorithm, but remind me to be mindful of factors (like caffeine, alcohol, screens) known to disrupt sleep. There’s a survey for pre-sleep behavior, another to reflect on how you feel at wake time.
  • The wearable charger is a great idea.
    • I don’t have to take off the band to charge it – I can wear the slide-on charger and charge while I sleep, or work. But I do have to take the strap off to shower (the charger is not waterproof so I tend to forget that the band is. Which means sometimes I forget to put the strap back on after shower, and miss some tracking.)
  • The pricing model is interesting…
    • I am intrigued by the monthly subscription idea (with 6 months paid upfront) – maybe they’ll find a way to be profitable and keep improving with this model.  But I have yet to see any improvements to the app or its definite usability flaws. So the recurring charge for value idea is not holding up yet.
whoop summary
30 Day Summary
Waking Survey
Daily Summary
Weekly Recovery

What could be better about the Whoop strap?

  • Predictive insights are not great.
    • So far, I have not found the performance insights to noticeably equate to my actual productivity or energy. This is the key selling feature, and it is not delivered – at least if you’re already healthy and cognizant.
    • Today it says I’m at 37% recovery despite the fact that I slept well, exercised, and feel good today. I also don’t see a difference in my ability to train hard (e.g. bike 3 hours) regardless of this number.
  • I can’t export my own data. 
    • They own MY readings – my heart rate data and sleep data. They don’t let me export this data to save it, which is wearables 101. It’s a lock-in to their service with your personal data as collateral. This is not ok.
  • The band is cheap.
    • The band is thin and flimsy, although rather sleek. It gets wet when I exercise, and feels gross to wear until it dries. Very unlikely to last 6 months, which means they actually expect me to pay them for another?! Also mine stretched out, and I had to cut it to shorten it. The loose end comes untucked all day long which is aggravating too.
  • The battery only lasts 2 days.
    • Feels like it’s always running out of battery.
  • Sleep accuracy is not great.
    • Sometimes I toss and turn and stay awake, but it says I slept all night.
    • When I get up in the middle of the night, it sometimes only counts the 2nd half as my total and says I got a terrible sleep. This screws up my weekly and monthly averages.
  • Can’t drill in and see details on activity or steps.
    • The Whoop Strap passively collects data on your activity, but this doesn’t map to something understandable like steps or movement. Instead they show a proprietary “strain” score number for the day.  You can’t see if the band correctly detected that you just walked a mile (and there’s no indication whether it did). It’s frustrating.
    • The band usually does not detect my shorter activity (such as a riding a bike for 15 min, or even walking the dog for 35 minutes) and then it reports that I’ve been highly inactive in my monthly summary.
    • Disclaimer: You can manually log an activity (if you can figure out how). As if. /eyeroll
  • Usability of the app could be a lot better.
    • Took me a few weeks to find where they hide some of the main stats. And even today, I’m still finding screens I might never find again. If you click around, you find hidden data. Clickable elements are not clearly marked. You can swipe up and down, left or right to get to different data. Some is even hidden in elements you have to flip over. Unconventional to say the least. Confusing 100%.
whoop band bottom
Bottom of band, coming untucked
whoop strap sleep data
Hidden screen with  sleep data
Sleep survey results

Conclusion

Looking at this list, I think it’s safe to say there’s a long way to go with the Whoop Strap before it makes good on its promises.  But I’m watching closely, because some of the trends are very intriguing. Clearly they’re looking to deliver a unique product experience, differentiated from being interchangeable with a Fitbit. But meanwhile, my Fitbit is keeping track on my other arm.

* I’ve learned a lot about HRV, like the fact that I can’t compare my numbers to yours (too bad) only to mine.

Valerie Lanard

Valerie Lanard

Valerie Lanard is a software engineer and fitness lover. Once upon a time, exercise was a chore she did to chase the elusive "skinny". Somewhere along the way, it morphed into a source of daily joy, motivation, and strength. Find her on a bike, on a hike, in a skort, or near a usb port. Chances are, she's wearing a gadget and a smile.

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