My first fitness trackers were a Nike Band on my wrist and an iPod Nano dongle connected to a Nike sensor in my shoes. That was in 2005 and I absolutely loved them. Then I’ve had 6 Apple watches and very recently one Amazon Halo (I’ll write a note about it at a later date). Until very recently I was (and still am) super happy with all these fitness and health data helpers, especially my Apple Watch.
A few weeks ago, though, my former boss and great friend introduced me to Whoop, which I had no idea about. He is an incredible marathon runner and during our conversation about training, I shared biggest worry about overtraining – I love working out so much that I often overdo it and in time, over train, leading to a complete reversal of all my gains – this happened at least three times to me in the past 20 years.
I was immediately intrigued by Whoop, which (I figured after a quick cursory google search) has quickly emerged as one of the most in-depth and data-driven straps in the past years, made famous by NFL’s Patrick Mahomes, was also designed to help figure out my strain and recuperation phases – and after two weeks of countless cardio sessions on the peloton, stairmaster and treadmill at the gym, my Whoop strap is already proving to be an immensely helpful and informational fitness and motivation guide.
The band is still learning me (another 15 days for me to unlock the monthly assessment coach) but I thought I would write about it!
So, what is the Whoop band?
The band is designed to be a 24/7 tracker and packs state of the art hardware – gyros, heart rate, temperature and accelerometer – and that results in a huge amounts of data harvested, directly sent via ultra-low power bluetooth to my iPhone: No display, everything happens on the Whoop app, which leads me to go directly to how the data is presented on the mobile app, which I really find a brilliant feat of great product design. My fitness data is then securely uploaded to the Whoop Cloud according to Whoop’s privacy principles for machine-learning based modeling finding its origins in Harvard’s iLab.
One more thing – I absolutely love the battery pack concept: no need to remove the band to have it charged, you just slide a battery pack on top of the sensor pack directly on your wrist and the 5-day charge is done in almost no time. Kudos to Whoop PMs and UX designers for that, it’s also another brilliant and convenient idea.
The Whoop app displays three fitness category sections and one social marketplace.
Each of the core sections elegantly and super effectively displays core fitness KPIs based on vitals such as heat rate, heart rate variability, respiratory rate, sleep phases, calories burned amongst others. This strain/sleep/recovery division is a really clever way to inform me on how my body is doing as I go forward with my daily training.
A convincing personal trainer right on my wrist
When using the Whoop strap, I really feel more motivated, especially during workout sessions; as well as more informed on my recovery and sleep patterns, especially when factoring in other important variables such as stress, alcohol consumption, meditation, hydration and even … sex!
During my daily routine, the first thing that gets prompted to me as I wake up is the sleep performance data overnight – and by the way, the alerts are really unobtrusive, but I found them highly addictive, especially the sleep coach info. Before Whoop, I knew of course that getting enough sleep was important, but looking at the breakdown between time in bed, number of disturbances, respiratory rate and more, all compared to my overall averages gave me very interesting insights like telling me that my body spent more time in REM than normal, which might indicate I am trying to make up for a lack of sleep from previous nights. Whoop shows me how many hours of sleep you need to recover fully from strain versus how much sleep I actually got as a percentage. And to my surprise …. I am not getting the quality sleep I thought I was getting. Right now I am at an average of 70% over the past 6 nights …..
Next, every morning before my workout I look at the recovery data because it’s a really good indicator on how I should approach my day training-wise. The indicator is a function of my resting heart rate and heart rate variability amongst other techno wizardry but I am looking at the number relatively and compare to the previous day to decide how my training session at the gym is going to be: the more my body has recovered the more strain I am ready for today. So, what does promote a high recovery score? I did some experiments since I got the band, and it’s not only “lots of sleep” … nutrition, especially alcohol consumption, is definitely factored in – same for stress, anxiety, hydration … so pay attention when you log your journal entries in the morning, it’s essential. The insanely awesome thing is that Whoop suggests me activities that are very much in sync with how I feel capable of – so it looks so far fairly accurate.
Conversely, Strain is fairly logical: the more you work out, the higher the score will be. I can log a good amount of activities (it’s way more than apple watch fitness app) and I get a number between 0 and 21 depending on how crazy my workout was, and I found out it’s not a linear scale …. Apparently it’s a lot easier to go from a 3 to a 4 than going from a 15 to a 16. For me, a semi-hard cardio workout comprised of 30 mins at 11 min/mile and 30 mins of cycling at a max setting gets me to a 12. But adding 30 mins of medium hard stair machine gets me to a 15. That said, I haven’t experimented too much on strength training, that will be for a later note, when I have unlocked the full strain coach. Also, I have noticed that Whoop is (so far) not super good at workout auto-detect, Apple Watch does this better (probably still learning me!)
My thoughts after 2 weeks on Whoop
The way strain, recovery and sleep work together is really the reason why I like Whoop so much. With all this information, I can tailor my daily workouts, estimate whether I want to take a rest day or not in order to avoid overtraining. The data is really helpful to me to stay in my healthy flow and the app is gorgeous and absolutely motivational and definitely helps in my training and work to stay healthy.
@philippemora > I come from the future. I work and I workout.
Always be kind and passionate. 🙏❤️💪🏋️♀️🔥🚀
It’s amazing to see that exiting a full year of lockdowns, closed gyms and constant mask wearing, the personal fitness industry in 2021 is now a $100 billion market. And what’s also super interesting is that how consumers are staying in shape in the wake of a global pandemic has drastically shifted how and where those dollars are being spent. For example, while previously consumers might have gone to the local gym or attended studio classes, more than ever people have turned to at-home virtual classes and connected fitness equipment. At the same time, that shift has opened the door to fitness driven by artificial intelligence that take into account their strengths, weaknesses, and overall fitness goals in a way that traditional gyms and training programs can’t. Supported by wearable devices sporting simple tracking technologies for things like heart rate, overall exercise activity, and sleep patterns, AI fitness solutions are making a play for mainstream fitness consumers by offering a truly personalized training program - and capitalizing on this market demands robust machine learning muscle, however. That’s why equipment manufacturers and fitness companies are using machine learning applications to handle the massive amounts of data processing required to deliver personalized fitness programming.
The new fitness normal
A number of companies are harnessing the power of machine learning to help develop personalized fitness applications. Example FitnessAI, Tonal, and Tempo, they all incorporate some form of machine learning to collect, interpret, and apply anonymized user datasets at scale, in turn making the potential of personalized fitness both possible and practical – and of course, helping users meet their fitness goals. For example, the FitnessAI iOS app uses data from about 6 million+ workouts to build customized fitness plans. Users just enter basic biometric and goal data, and the app creates a personalized training program that specifies what exercises to do, what weights to use and how many reps to complete. The app then uses an AI algorithm to suggest a progressive increase in weights and reps relative to user size and strength, in turn providing a more personalized training experience. Applications such as Freeletics fill a similar niche, allowing users to define their own goals and customize nutrition plans.
Big data, big gains: The AI advantage
Sports and fitness is now a tech data-driven field even at personal level and this is awesome. Research into human capabilities, limits, and overall performance has led to the development of generalized programs that help build strength, reduce fat, or improve endurance.That said, on a personal level, however, performance and potential deviation from the median — every person’s physical makeup is different, meaning that they perform, adapt, and gain strength or endurance at vastly different rates. Traditionally, physical trainers filled this gap, and their in-person expertise combined generalized knowledge with client characteristics to shape programs suited to each individual.
AI in personalized training today offers a way to bridge the gap by leveraging machine-learning algorithms to aggregate generalized physical data, collect specific and anonymized information about users and then combine these datasets to create truly personalized training programs. In fact, the main benefits for users are access to training planning, monitoring and even motivation at a fraction of the cost, which means that more people can be reached than ever before.
Lastly, right now, integrating machine learning technology into fitness equipment requires access to massive amounts of personal user data, such as current fitness level, height, weight, and, in some cases, anonymized images of body shape and type. Then, fitness companies must develop AI outputs that deliver individualized suggestions and lead to sustainable fitness improvements over time. But as the industry evolves from supervised ML to synthetic datasets as well as game theory and deep learning, the need for massive curated datasets will be less of an issue – this is an AI industry wide trend.
Expected benefits of AI-driven fitness tech
In conclusion, I think that machine learning technology is becoming an increasingly accessible option for companies looking to build out data-driven fitness products to deliver business value and user delight. Further, if you think about machine learning solutions baked into connected fitness technologies to offer a way for users to receive personalized, real-time feedback about their fitness efforts in order to help them achieve specific goals over time. It’s clear today that the rapid expansion of this exercise market vertical and shows that truly personalized training with integrated machine learning muscle has arrived, and it’s going truly awesome.
@philippemora > I come from the future. I work and I workout. Always be kind and passionate. 🙏❤️💪🏋️♀️🔥🚀
Before the pandemic, to get tailored insights and mentoring on your fitness and nutrition, you really had to hire a personal trainer. Fast forward 18 months post pandemic and it’s absolutely awesome to see that you convincingly can use AI-powered apps to do exactly the same and so much more and better – high tech and artificial are indeed adding feedback-based personalization to the digital fitness space, making the experience of having a personal trainer more accessible than ever for those without a gym membership. And judging by the mega boom of workouts that moved to the digital space due to the 2020 pandemic - A.I. is being used to make at-home workouts safer, more personal, and as close to an in-studio experience as possible. Digital Fitness startups are utilizing A.I. in two major ways: with form-adjusting technology through apps and pieces of fitness equipment, and by learning your exercise and recovery behavior to make personalized recommendations. A.I. is being implemented by looking at your data and what you’re doing to suggest something that might be a fit for you, data collection usually happens via a wearable that collects all your vitals even sleep, and tapping into modeling, it can tell you how hard your effort was during a workout by learning your physical behavior over time and adjusting feedback based on that behavior. That feedback is constantly adjusted. Trainers believe that the individualization in at-home workouts is going to make fitness better—and smarter—for everyone: the individualization in at-home workouts is going to make fitness better—and smarter—for everyone by taking the human element out of trying to decide these things like what workout to do or how to recover, which is going to be reassuring for the consumer to know that they’re doing the right workout.
@philippemora > I come from the future. I work and I workout. Always be kind and passionate. 🙏❤️💪🏋️♀️🔥🚀
A few months back, I have shared my thoughts about the concept of rituals as applied to personal health and fitness. Recently I have refined my thinking and I thought I would share …
After a certain time, it’s easy to see your daily workouts as just your routine … don’t! Instead try to view your overall physical (and mental) fitness with more respect: call them your fitness rituals. That subtle word change will make all the difference … see, routines, habits, etc. will tend, over time, to gain a negative connotation because they’ll eventually become a “have to do”. But a ritual will always be something you respect and want to participate to – so whatever your pre-race or pre-workout ritual is, it will be setting the tone for it to be a positive experience and something you truly enjoy.
Here are my suggestions that will help you turn your workout “routine” into an awesomebulous ritual.
Have a theme song!
For me, music plays a big role in any activity. Not only does it focus your mind but when I listen to something I really like (for me It’s uplifting EDM) that’s super upbeat, it can se the done for how your experience things. So I suggest you get a rotation of songs, a playlist, an app that gets you in the mood for exercise. For me, I use an app called di.fm radio and I listen to their uplifting, epic and vocal trance channels and shows (from Armin van Buuren to Jena Garniychuk and Ori Uplift). When I really love a song, I add it to my running playlist on Apple Music (you can follow me there). That’s the soundtrack of my workouts and runs.
Dedicate your workout to someone
I think there is power in reminder myself as to why I am committing to my workouts, because it’s helping me why this matters to me and to remember the bigger picture: more and more (and more) maintenance as you get older! I’ve learned that great idea while practicing mindfulness using the Headspace app: take 3 deep breaths, shift your attention to your senses and be in the Now. Then think about why the workout you’re about to do matters to you. And then finally connect all of this with your own bigger picture, whether it’s preserving your health to be strong for your loved ones, or to remember how lucky you are to be healthy or to remind yourself how you feel so much better after your workout …..
Always do something you actually enjoy
A part of your ritual is your workout itself. Soooo … if you hate to run, don’t run. There are a lot of activities that will get you to break a really good sweat. Just thrive to get started, even when you don’t feel like it. The fun will come real fast. So find those workouts that will make sure that you’ll be always be coming back to them. For me I love running and I love lifting. But I don’t want to do this every day because I don’t want to get bored of it. So during my work week, I actually do my cardio on ellipticals, stairmasters (those are excellent cardio workouts!) and stationary bike. And every other day, I lift and work on my strength training.
Have a post-game
Once you’re done, I suggest you make a point in recognizing yourself for showing up today and do the work. Take your time during your cool down to reflect on how you feel and notice the positive changes you feel after a good workout session – for me I do a good stretching session and then hot tub and shower – so that you keep on doing it every day again and again and again.
The concept of macro rituals
In addition to your daily training and fitness rituals, I suggest you have a ritual to kick off each week. For example, I have a weekly macro ritual on Sundays when I prepare my meals for the week – make my food list, go to the store, take my time to pick up the best produce and then come home and prepare and cook. I usually do that after my weekend 10K runs.
@philippemora > I come from the future. I work and I workout. Always be kind and passionate.
Not bad after such a long winter hiatus! The Nike 50K challenge was alright for the amount of running I am doing. However the Apple activity challenge this month was super hard. But I got it, almost at the last minute! #me !!!
In order to improve performance basically we have to work real hard. But hard training (both strength and cardio) will not result in growing performance and being stronger without proper nutrition and most importantly: rest. I am writing this to remind myself about the important role rest plays in obtaining maximum performance and results from the hours spent in the gym.
The Value Of Rest
When we train hard, it is rest that makes us stronger, because it allows the muscles that we have broken down during workouts to heal and recover. Why does rest play such an important role in muscle recovery? It is during sleep where growth hormone levels are at their highest. Physiologic improvement in any sport can only occur during the rest period following hard training. This is also why consuming the proper foods and supplements immediately following such training is so key.
In other words, without proper recovery time, not only will we reach a performance plateau, but we also will run the risk of injury, and may even experience reduced performance: less strength and less endurance - this is called overtraining.
The Scientific Studies: not enough rest aka overtraining messes up key hormonal balance
There have been several clinical studies done, and in many individuals overtraining increased the body's cortisol levels and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). DHEA and cortisol are the body's long-acting stress hormones and are antagonistic to each other to some degree.
DHEA has an anabolic or building influence, while cortisol has a catabolic or tearing down effect on the body. Normally these hormones are in balance.They become imbalanced during chronic overtraining. If proper recovery is not obtained such as in chronic overtraining conditions, the body will continue to make increasingly greater amounts of cortisol, while reducing the amount of DHEA produced.
The consequences of elevated cortisol and reduced DHEA can be devastating.
The negative effects may include:
Rest And Relaxation
It all looks very simple to avoid overtraining: the best defense to overtraining is a proper combination of good rest and proper nutrition. A well-planned training program will include adequate recovery time and proper nutrition, including proper supplementation.
Most importantly listen to your body when you see the early warning signs of overtraining. Be flexible and adjust your workout, your sleep and your diet accordingly.
Understanding the signs of overtraining and responding accordingly will help you reach your goals faster. See ya in the winner's circle!
I come from the future. I work and I workout. Always be kind and passionate.
Love going to the gym and lift weights. Most of the time I am going to CitySports around Coleman Avenue in San Jose. It’s about 5 minutes from my office so basically I get there at 5am, lift iron and then get to the office around 8am-ish. I also use the cardio machines twice a week because training at Niles during the week isn’t an option – way too much traffic in Silicon Valley! By the way, I love this tank top by Hughesy and Cody. What do you think?
I come from the future. I work and I workout. Always be kind and passionate.