We here at Made To Thrive have recently made the swop over to WHOOP, after many years of OURA as our preferred biohacking wearable. We believe several of WHOOP’s differentiating offerings (unpacked below) sets it apart from competitors, and on a practical level WHOOP has not made owning a WHOOP in South Africa a major obstacle despite not officially working in the country, which cannot be said of its main international competitor.
Now, in that one sentence, there is a lot to unpack, so let’s go through each point one by one.
- What is a wearable, and why should I have one?
- WHOOP? WHOOP? What is WHOOP?
- The wearable uncanny valley
Wearables and wearing one
Most people are familiar with what a wearable is but if not, here’s a quick 101. Wearable technology, or wearables, refers to electronic devices that can be worn on the body, either as an accessory or integrated into clothing. Wearables include fitness trackers, smart watches, smart glasses, and smart clothing. These devices can track data about the wearer’s activities, biometrics, and surroundings. Fitness trackers and smart watches are the most common types of wearables today. They began quite rudimentary with step counting and calories burnt, but now they can track advanced metrics like heart rate variability, blood oxygen levels, respiration rate and stages of sleep, and in the future, we could even see live glucose monitoring. Wearables are often connected to an app on a smart phone, which provides not only interaction through notifications but the hub of one’s personal data.
So why wear a wearable? Because everybody’s health is unique, meaning your data will shine the exact light you need on your health, showing you objectively where you are strong and weaker. Wearables, like fitness trackers, also act as accountability partners, nudging people to exercise and move more throughout the day by tracking their activity levels and providing somatic reminders to get up if the wearer has been sedentary for an extended period of time. Wearable medical devices are being developed to monitor chronic health conditions like diabetes and epilepsy. The data collected can help wearers and their doctors better manage their health over time. Sensors in smart clothing can track posture and movement to prevent injury during exercise and rehabilitation. Overall, wearables are creating new ways for people to monitor and improve their health every day.
That’s what WHOOP is – a wearable fitness tracker. It can now also be integrated into WHOOP’s smart clothing. Not only does it collect data for you like the OURA ring does, but it has a host of other features that sets it apart from other fitness trackers. And we will get into each of these special features one by one soon. First, the basics.
The WHOOP tracks and measures a wealth of wellness, fitness and health information particularly about sleep, stress, strain, recovery and key vitals.
The app then displays all of this in an impressive and user-friendly format, including in weekly and monthly assessment reports. Sleep data allows us to know not just the quantity but more importantly quality of our sleep with respect to REM and deep sleep.
The strain feature
tells us our degree of daily cardiovascular and autonomous nervous system load, and based on our level of fitness and recovery, suggests levels of strain to aim for.
is about how ready you are to tackle the day, or whether the day should be more rest and restorative focused. And with key vitals, like respiration rate, blood oxygen, resting heart rate and skin temperature, we can often see the early signs of something like a flu brewing, which can allow us to try and put preventative steps in place.
But we skipped over stress? That’s right, because that is one of WHOOPs most distinctive and separating features.
The WHOOP 4.0 proudly boosts its new live stress monitor feature. Using a live reading of one’s HRV and heart rate, the monitor can tell anyone at any time where they sit on a three-point stress score. The development of this scoring system was done in partnership with world famous Stanford neuroscientist Andrew Huberman.
But the stress monitor is not only about telling you how stressed you are or aren’t, as it provided in-app access to interactive stress reducing interventions (like the scientifically proven cyclic sigh) as well as written and audio resources about stress.
Daily behaviour journal
– A second distinctive feature of is the daily journaling with over 100 unique lifestyle choices/behaviours that demystifies whether what you are doing in your daily routine is actually helping, or perhaps hurting you. Doing this customizable and simple, 2-to-3-minute journal every morning gives WHOOP the data it needs then to provide recommendations about how lifestyle choices and interventions actually effect aspects of your health like sleep, recovery, mental health and HRV.
In app coach – The WHOOP integrates your own WHOOP coach including its brand-new AI generated chat feature when you can talk and ask questions your WHOOP about your data and it provides insight and resources to assist. The app also incorporates a sleep coach, strength coach and training coach that offers suggestions about when to go to sleep or how much to exercise today in order to achieve peak performance when desired.
Scientifically legit – WHOOP prides itself in its scientific underpinning and accuracy. An independent study by the Australian Institute of Sport in 2022 concluded that WHOOP can claim at least 99% accuracy of its heart rate and HRV data , making it the most accurate of wearable on the market for those metrics.
Is it the same with sleep? Well, actually no wearable can measure sleep to the level of accuracy an in-laboratory polysomnography can. But it is a reasonable picture of sleep? Absolutely, with studies showing a degree of accuracy for critical stages of sleep like deep and REM being around 60% and 70% . More importantly for you however, is the WHOOP is precise, meaning it will make those same estimation each and every night of sleep, which is more important for you to track and work on your sleep trends, which has resulted in a staggering statistics from WHOOP itself.
“100% of members with a goal to improve their sleep agree that WHOOP is helping them reach their goal” – WHOOP.com
The wearable uncanny valley
But will you actually keep your WHOOP on? That’s what I am terming the wearable uncanny valley. As wearable tech hit the consumer market around 2015, it had a high ditch rate with over 40% of FitBit customers stopping use within the first six months . The main complaint was battery life, but we were all charging our new smart phones as regularly at the same time. So, there must have been another reason.
And the reason was simple – data dump. The original wearables gave people tons of data but the user had no idea what to do with that data so what was the point? That’s all different now, especially with the WHOOP. With its visually appealing app, sophisticated algorithms and personalised recommendations, now all that data is given back to the user in a way that makes the insights both valuable and actionable. Which is truly where WHOOP shines, in its actionability infrastructure. The in-app coaches and nudges guide users about when to go to sleep and wake up, how much and in what type of way to push (or not) on the day and with clear pluses and minuses assigned to your choices and behaviours, data now is not just random numbers but rather specific, objective data about what is hurting and helping.
Get WHOOP now
Made To Thrive will supply you a WHOOP 4.0 with a 1-year subscription as well as a complimentary personal session with one of our health coaches to help you begin you WHOOP journey with someone who can provide expert guidance and answer any of your questions and concerns.
That’s why here at Made To Thrive WE WHOOP.
 WHOOP Proven Most Accurate Wearable in Heart Rate & Heart Rate Variability Measurements, https://www.whoop.com/eu/en/thelocker/whoop-proven-most-accurate-wearable-in-heart-rate-heart-rate-variability-measurements/, October 27, 2022.
 A validation study of the WHOOP strap against polysomnography to assess sleep, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32713257/, July 26, 2020.
 42 percent of Users Lose Interest in Fitness Trackers After 6 Months, https://bigthink.com/technology-innovation/users-lose-interest-in-fitness-trackers-after-6-months/, January 13, 2015.