How Tech Transformed the Fitness Industry: The Whoop Strap and Other Wearables
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The health and fitness industry is quick to adopt new trends. Whether it’s what to eat eat, how to exercise, or, in this case, what technology you should be using. One of the amazing things about being alive today is that we live in a time when each of us has the power to use technology to optimize nearly every part of our lives—and this, of course, includes our physical and mental health. What the average person can do today with something like the Whoop Strap makes counting calories looks as archaic as lifting logs.
Measuring the Right Things with the Whoop Strap and Wearables
The old adage that “you manage what you measure” rings especially true in the arena of personal fitness. This does not, however, mean that you should measure every little thing, nor does it mean that all measurements are created equal. Go back just twenty years, for example, and most people thought of “calories” in a very cut-and-dry way—as in A calorie, is a calorie, is a calorie. It didn’t matter to them if the calorie came from a protein source, a fat source, or a carb source—all sources were counted the same.
In other words, back in the day, your average person counted the calorie as the same regardless of their source. It didn’t matter if the calorie came from fat or a carb or a protein—all calories were simply lumped together into the same equation.
Similarly, the weight has traditionally been thought of in a very blunt way. The more pounds you drop, the better. While in many cases, this is true. The fact is that there is a much healthier and more effective way to think about both weight and calories. One is body fat, and the other is macros. The right fitness technology can help you calculate both of these metrics easier than ever before.
A Brief History of Wearables
In many ways, the first “wearable” technology came in the form of head or body-mounted cameras. In the early 80s, cameras finally shrunk so they could be mounted on your helmet. These types of “wearables,” however, were a far cry from what we see today.
What really made modern wearables possible was the invention of Bluetooth. Because of Bluetooth, which can be built into virtually anything, the technology-enabled people to connect their phones to devices like the Whoop Strap, Apple Watch, FitBit, and more.
Things exploded in the 2000s with the release of the first FitBit and then, in 2015, with the first-generation Apple Watch. While the original wearables were more like glorified pedometers…They’ve certainly come a long way since then.
The Psychological Benefits of the Whoop Strap and Other Wearables
Early technological adaptors have sometimes been accused of embracing new products simply for the sake of having something new. But is that the case with wearables? Do wearables, in other words, truly represent a better way of doing things?
The answer, in short, is YES; wearables can improve your life and do potentially represent a better way of doing things—wearables empower users to optimize the physical performance of their bodies and thus to optimize their lives. Aside from the specific measurements (detailed later) wearables help you monitor, there are three especially important psychological benefits of fitness technology that often go unnoticed.
- Accountability: Unless you are a professional athlete, the odds are that you are the only person closely monitoring your own health. It is far easier to “cheat” on your health goals when there is no one to be accountable to. Whether you have that extra helping or food, skip that jog, or sleep hours longer than your body requires, if you are only accountable to yourself, it is often too easy to make excuses. This is why wearables like the Whoop Strap and Apple Watch are so important—they enable you to set goals and then to pursue those goals in an objective, no-excuses sort of way. If your goal is to lose .5lbs per week and one week you only lose .2lbs, well then, you’re wearable will know, and it will keep you accountable. With wearables, there are no excuses, and often it makes things easier when they are in simple black and white, meaning you are either are or aren’t hitting your goals.
- Habits: The scientific formation of productive daily habits is something the health and fitness world is only beginning to understand. You might think that your brain wants you to be healthy—it wants you to make all the right decisions and to live in an optimal way. If only that were the case. The fact is that whether your lifestyle is healthy or unhealthy, the brain is a habit-forming machine. Let’s say you wake up every morning and immediately consume sugary cereal. This is an unhealthy choice, BUT it’s an unhealthy choice that your brain may crave. It’s not so easy to go cold-turkey on sugary cereal. This is where wearables come in. By enabling you to measure minute improvements in your lifestyle, wearables can help you see incremental improvements which may otherwise be too small for the naked eye. For example, let’s say you cut down about 1 gram of sugar per day. Well, one gram of sugar is a VERY small amount. But, if you track that amount over the course of a month, then suddenly you realize that you’re now consuming a whole 30 grams of sugar less per day than you were a month ago—and that’s a big deal. Habits are easier to form when they are small, simple, and easily measurable, and wearables help with all three of these things.
- Motivation: If you’re someone who likes to push yourself, there is nothing better than knowing how well you did at something the last time you did it. Whether you are adding a few pounds to your bench press, speeding up your sprints, or lowering your mile time, measurements are a necessary component. Also, measuring your progress via wearables like the Whoop Strap is an ideal way for high-performance athletes to better understand their progress. If you, for example, run a fast mile several times a week, it may be difficult to determine if you are truly getting better. But wearables remove the uncertainty and show that even if you are only making MARGINAL gains, say 3-seconds per week, those tiny gains add up to big gains over time.
The Whoop Strap and Other Great Wearables
Which wearables will work best depend largely on your goals. If you are looking for something with a wide range of potential applications, you may want to consider the Apple Watch or, perhaps, the FitBit. When it comes to fitness, though, many professionals and fitness lovers prefer the Whoop Strap.
Here are some of the biggest reasons that choose the Whoop Strap:
- 24/7 Monitoring: Being able to comfortably wear the Whoop strap all day and night is one of the device’s biggest advantages. Because the Whoop Strap has a removable battery pack, you never need to take it off, and that means better, more accurate data.
- WHOOP Tracks HRV: Heart Rate Variability (HRV) is one of the most important metrics you can look at when considering your overall health. Even more important than standard heart rate, your HRV can tell you how much sleep you need, how ready you are to perform, and much more.
- Minimal: The Whoop Strap is designed in the most minimum way possible. Rather than a clunky watch, or something that feels heavy on your wrist, the Whoop Strap is light, durable, waterproof, and the perfect 24/7 wearable.
- Sleep Suggestions: Unlike other devices which need to be taken off during sleep hours, the Whoop Strap helps monitor how much sleep you are getting versus how much you should be getting. The device can also measure the quality of your sleep, not just the number of hours.
- Respiratory Rate: Another tremendously valuable feature of the Whoop, especially now during the time of COVID, is that it monitors your respiratory rate. This is important because COVID sufferers often experience increased respiratory rate as an early symptom of catching the virus.
- Fitness Tracker: One of the things that Apple does best is measuring active fitness. Because of sturdy heart-rate monitors, you can actually measure when you’re giving it your all versus slacking. You can also track progress.
- Calories: The Apple Watch has a reliable calorie counter that can help you determine how many calories you burn while working out. This is a very useful tool if you are deciding between different types of cardio. For example, many people are surprised to discover just how much progress they can make in short periods of working out. In many cases, the key is intensity. Putting your body into short periods of sustained “stress” (in other words, trying really hard at something for short periods of time) in some cases can be better than long-periods of other types of exercise. This is especially true if you are looking for ways to burn fat via cardio without losing muscle mass due to long-distance running or other endurance-centric forms of exercise. The Whoop Strap has a feature called the “Strain Coach,” which specifically taps into this fact.
- Sleep Tracker: The Apple Watch has a legit sleep tracker that monitors both hours of sleep as well as different sleep stages and deep sleep. The Apple Watch does not, however, have a respiratory algorithm as advanced as the one the WHOOP 3.0 uses to track sleep. In my opinion, when it comes to sleep tracking, the WHOOP fitness band has a leg up over the competition.
- Options: Perhaps the greatest thing about the Apple Watch is its countless options. If simple yet effective, fitness-focused features are what you are looking for, go with the Whoop Strap. But if you want apps, music, and other professional options, the Apple Watch may be more of what you’re looking for.
The FitBit has come a long way since 2009. While it started as something like a glorified pedometer, today, the FitBit has numerous apps, features, and more. Although the Fitbit certainly deserves an honorable mention, it’s my opinion that if you’re going to buy a wearable specifically for fitness purposes, you are better off going with the Whoop Strap.
Measuring What Matters
With wearables, a “quantified life” is now easier than ever before. Still, even with the use of wearables, you don’t necessarily want to drown yourself in data, and that is why it’s so beneficial to know what matters and what doesn’t
The Whoop Strap For Daily Progress
Daily progress in the form of recording and measuring your regular exercise duration and performance is essential if you are looking to make gains. Whether it is reducing your mile time, jumping higher, or whatever the case may be, you should choose a handful of exercises that you care about and measure those as your important metrics. The Whoop Strap Strain Coach is especially good at measuring your progress when doing things HIIT workouts—which can otherwise be difficult to track because, frankly, they are almost always difficult, so it may feel like you are trying just as hard today as you did yesterday or the day before, meanwhile you may not be.
Thinking about food in terms of macros rather than as “all calories are the same” is an enlightened approach to overall health that has been embraced by everyone from doctors to professional athletes and bodybuilders. The idea is simple. All food falls into one or several “macronutrient” categories. These are:
- Fats: Fats are in beef as well as other animal products, including many types of fish plus non-animal products like avocado, walnuts, and more. Few health-based ideas have changed as much over the last decade as our overall perception of fats. Where once all fats were treated equally as “the enemy,” nutritionists now recognize that many types of fats are ideal for your health. Omega fatty acids, which are present in salmon, olive oil, and more, have been shown to reduce chances of heart attack, reduce inflammation, provide energy, keep you full, and much more.
- Carbs: Where fats have been elevated, carbs have been downgraded. It’s safe to say that if you are looking to be in the best shape possible, carbs should not consume a major portion of your diet. The suggestions vary, but many fitness experts would say you should only consume about 30% of your calories via carbs OR LESS. Diets like the “Keto Method” pride themselves on zero to no carbs. While some would say the ketogenic approach to carbs is a bit extreme, the important thing is that you think of food as fuel. And, as such, carbs should be thought of as rocket fuel—this means carbs are fast burning and dramatic. So yes, you can (and perhaps even should) eat carbs before workouts or before sustained periods of activity. But you should try to get these carbs in their healthiest possible form. Try things like fruits and vegetables as well as whole grains, oats, and other fibrous yet carb-heavy foods.
- Proteins: Proteins remain a staple of the American diet. And for a good reason—protein helps keep you full, it can be used as an energy source, and it’s an essential component of building muscle. Whether you should be having more fats or more proteins depends on who you ask, but it’s worth experimenting with your own body and seeing which macro source makes you feel and look your best.
Thinking about your health in terms of body fat is typically superior to just raw weight. The reason being that muscle weighs more than fat—so, if you are faced with a situation where you are struggling to lose those extra few pounds, you have to ask yourself where is the extra weight coming from? If it’s coming from your muscles, than losing weight is a bad thing. It can be very difficult to drop weight without losing at least some muscle volume, but if you maintain a protein and fat-heavy diet, you can at least limit how much of your losses are coming from “good” parts of your body and hopefully focus those losses on places like your love handles and lower stomach.
The Whoop Strap For Sleep
Sleep, sleep, sleep. You cannot overestimate the power and value of a good night’s sleep whether you have a marathon to run in the morning or an important meeting in the afternoon. Sleep affects how you feel, how well your mind works, your body fat, and just about everything else. Wearables like the Whoop Strap are designed never to be taken off. You can easily use the Whoop Strap for in-depth sleep monitoring that will enable you to better understand your sleep cycles and how you can optimize those cycles for better health and a better life.
Heart Rate and Heart Rate Variability
Heart Rate Variability is another one of those emerging metrics that medical professionals are only just now begging to realize holds incredible potential. Regular out heart rate has always been considered a good indicator of overall health as well as the current state of the body. With an HRV rate, though, you get so much more. Knowing and monitoring your HRV rate by using the Whoop Strap can help you understand if you are getting enough sleep, when and why you may be hitting “mid-day” slumps, as well as when you are most prepared for athletic performance and the like.
When it comes to wearables, convenience is everything. While more data is valuable, it’s only valuable if the data is easily accessible and presented to you in a way that you can actionably make changes based on its information. For this exact reason, many, myself included, feel the minimal yet advanced feature set and interface offered by the Whoop Strap is a superior wearable product—especially when it comes to overall health and fitness.
Today, wearables are not just for those on their way to Comic-Con; they are for business people, parents, professional athletes, and anyone else desiring to have better control over their body, their health, and their life.