The last 6 weeks I’ve had the opportunity to work with WHOOP, the human performance company committed to unlocking human potential,and use the WHOOP Strap 2.0, a revolutionary fitness device and membership service designed to track your Strain (daily activity + lifestyle stress), Sleep, and Recovery. The in-depth analytics the Strap and accompanying app provide shows you how to optimize recovery for better performance.
I hopped on a call with a member of the WHOOP team before I got going with a bunch of Q’s, most importantly – why do I need this? Why will this help me? And why would this help my readers? I got his answers, and now, having used WHOOP for the past few weeks, have answers of my own.
WHOOP collects over 100MB of data on a user per day, with 5 sensors measuring data 100x per second. The Strap measures:
- Heart Rate
- Heart Rate Variability (HRV), the measurement of time between each heartbeat
- Motion via 3-Axis Accelerometer
- On/Off Wrist Detection
WHOOP assesses the data collected and quantifies the Strain you take on each day, measures your Sleep in detail (including tracking the amount of time you spend in each stage of sleep), and tells you how Recovered you are the next morning . The app breaks this down into red, yellow, and green Recovery scores to help you maximize your daily performance:Red – take it easy. Yellow – you’re good to go, but take it slow. Green – you’re in the clear; go ahead and push yourself.
Running an online workout platform naturally two things have always been very important to me: Accessing dataand content wherever I am and being able to integrate the tools theyprovide easily into my life. For me, the recovery results WHOOP gives me are particularly actionable and simple to implement.
When I started using my WHOOP, I was doing the Online Studios 28 Day Sculpt Plan and my schedule was all over the place – I was on holiday one week and on a crazy press tour the next. There was barely any continuity in my working hours or my food and workout schedule. It was the ultimate time to put WHOOP and me to the test!
As you keep the WHOOP Strap on during the day and night, it doesn’t just take into account your workouts but your lifestyle stresses as well. I found this element the most interesting, in particular my sleep performance.
For the first week of the 28 Day Sculpt plan I was on holiday in France, the perfect setting to focus on my sleep.I was able to see my sleep cycles and how they affected my daily Recovery. The more Strain WHOOP p tracks, both through workouts and lifestyle stress, the more sleep it showed I needed. It was a new approach to recovery for me, far more specific than I’m used to. I really do value my sleep, and always feel the effects restless nights have on my body, but I wasn’t aware just how little sleep I got some nights. The WHOOP app’s Sleep Coach feature suggested I needed to be in bed almost 10 hours to get a head start on my ‘sleep debt.’ As an athlete approaching a performance or working on a plan like the 28 day sculpt, this kind of information can completely change the success of every workout. If your body hasn’t recovered, then you’ll only reap half the benefits!
After my time in France, I jetted off to New York where the relaxing French countryside was exchanged for the busy hustle and bustle of the city. I didn’t just ease into work, I jumped into one of the busiest weeks of the year. The Naturally Sassy Online Studio’s big upgrade:Our app launch, cookery channel launch, press tour and event! I was running around the city from interviews to news shows, heavily managing the new launch, teaching classes and finding time to work out myself. During this time, I wasn’t peaking and finding time to sleep as much as I should was a challenge. The app showed that my Recovery was in the yellow and my performance suffered a bit because of my lack of sleep. Seeing my lifestyle stress being accounted for just as fully as my workouts was also really interesting. I could finally see the correlation between my strain and recovery. The difference from before was now I had the tools to make some changes.
UsingWHOOP has showed me the importance of not just the workout, but what I do before and after. That’s the biggest thing I’ve taken away from my experience so far – the true effect of good (or bad) recovery. Now I’m prioritising my recovery and sleep, while continuing to track my performance via my Strain score . The good news is I’ve implemented a more consistent sleep routine, and that’s really been a game changer for me.
There’s three things that have really helped me with this:
- I have picked a consistent bed and wake-up time; I go to bed every night by 11:30pm and wake up at 6:30am.
- I’ve created a pre-sleep routine I love so much, I look forward to it all day. About an hour before bed, I start to relax, disconnecting from my phone and laptop. I’ll have an Epsom salt bath, cup of herbal tea and do 20 minutes of stretching from the stretch program in the Online studio. It’s so relaxing it feels almost meditative.
- Finally, I’ve invested more time in creating the perfect sleep environment. I’ve cleared the room of tech, installed a dimmer switch for our main light, and gotten some really lovely fans for the room that have a ‘sleep’ and ‘relax’ mode. I’ve also bought some black-out blinds and invested in a Wake-Up Light therapy alarm clock that steadily increases the light in the room 30 minutes before wakeup. It may sound a little over the top, but it was really such a simple way to help me sleep better!
My overall goal is to perform better in life as well as in the studio, and if that means more sleep and time to recover – I’m not complaining!
This is a paid for partnership with Whoop.