Two weeks with the Whoop activity and fitness band

Two weeks with the Whoop activity and fitness band
Photo by Dushawn Jovic / Unsplash

Almost five years ago, I upgraded my then-worn-out Garmin Fenix smart/fitness watch to a newer model - the Garmin Fenix 6X Pro. For the past 1800 and some days, I've worn this watch day in and night. As I'm typing this, the Garmin is on my right wrist.

About Whoop

A friend of mine showed me the Whoop device some years ago. The intro went something like this: "It doesn't have a display or buttons! It takes weeks to calibrate! But it's great," and I wasn't sold on it then. It reminded me too much of the early 2000s fitness watches with esoteric and hard-to-understand metrics such as the Suunto EPOC value.

Fast-forward to a few weeks ago, when my colleague was sporting the same—but newer—Whoop device. The sales model has shifted from "pay hundreds of euros for a device and hope it's great" to "get the device for free and pay a subscription to process your data."

The device is still mostly the same: lightweight, with no display and nothing to fiddle with - you wear and interact with the data, findings, and recommendations through the mobile app. I ordered the device with the default band, which cost me 12 euros in shipping and handling. For this, I get a month's free trial, and I get to return the device if I don't like it. However, I must purchase a subscription if I find the device useful.

Initial impressions

The device is lightweight and worn above the radius bone on the wrist. The band is somewhat elastic, so finding a good fit isn't too hard.

Whoop 4.0 and the clip-on battery

The mobile app pairs effortlessly with the device, and after initial configuration, there is nothing left to do but use it.

Battery life

One of the main disappointments with the Whoop is the inadequate battery life. For a device with no displays and nothing to 'do' except to sit idly on your wrist, it provides about 5-7 days of use. The Garmin, which is much larger and heavier but has a nice display and a gazillion features to interact with, gives me 21 days of battery—about three times more.

Charging is effortless for the Whoop. You clip on a small battery while using it. It charges in an hour or two, and you then clip off the battery and charge that with a regular USB-C charger. Genius!

I'm still quite disappointed with the poor battery life. After just three days, I'm down to 50%, and the battery icon in the mobile app turns red. I understand that Apple Watch users are pretty accustomed to charging the device each day or so, but having experienced the fantastic 3-week charging cycle with the Garmin, that's my baseline now. I don't want to go back to charging a device designed to be worn at all times every weekend or more often.

Whoop subscription

The first month is free, but the following year will cost 264 € (22 €/month)—an upfront payment. The price is 444 € (18.5 €/month) for a two-year commitment. If—like me—you're uncertain if you'll be using the device for years, you also pay per month. Then it's 30 € each month.

My current device, the Garmin Fenix 6X Pro - the top-of-the-line model at the time—cost me 845 €—there are no monthly fees after that. The cost per day is currently around 46 cents. The Whoop is 60 cents per day with a 2-year commitment. Whoop promises a free upgrade to the device if one is released.

Garmin vs. Whoop

I kept wearing my Garmin on the right hand and used Whoop on the left. I thought I wouldn't mind having two devices, but it feels off. The Garmin tells me the time, and I use it constantly for small things - timing off my cappuccino shots, checking how much body battery I have left, replying to random SMSs with a short 'ok,' and similar. The Whoop allows me to do nothing; I have to pull out my phone to do anything with it each time. And I want to use my phone less.

Whoop seems to provide more detailed data, especially for sleep. Here are the stats for the night:

Whoop sleep stats

I was feeling exhausted and went to bed early. I stayed in bed for 9 hours and 35 minutes, most of which I spent asleep.

Sleep performance was a stellar 100%. Garmin told me roughly the same amount of time, but sleep performance was 20% worse.

Garmin sleep stats
Garmin sleep score

I feel Garmin tweaked the algorithm, perhaps in one of the recent major updates. A few years ago, I would frequently hit 95-100 for my sleep score, and nowadays, I mostly get <90. And I do sleep pretty well.

Garmin also gives me all data through the web portal, while Whoop only offers a subset of the data, and the rest has to be scoured through the mobile app.

Whoops, it gives more detailed data but also feels more optimistic. Garmin offers a little less minutiae, but it's more neutral. Of course, this is a subjective feeling - I'm comparing almost a decade of data on Garmin mentally to just two weeks on Whoop.

Whoop in the gym

I track my gym sessions with the Garmin—not for the calories or activity minutes, but mostly for recovery and the perceived feeling of stress and load.

For the past few weeks, I have also tracked with Whoop. It felt a bit off, but thankfully, it has a specific Powerlifting tracking mode.

A typical gym session that I do at home would be something like this:

  • Paused bench press: 4x1: 70-100-110-120-130 kg (RPE 8)
  • Sitting bench press with dumbbells: 3x6: 25-30-30 kg (RPE 6)
  • Single arm cable row: 4x6: 25-30-35-35 kg (RPE 6)
  • Bicep row with curl bar: 2x10: 25-35-40-45-50 kg (RPE 8)

Garmin tells me I'm usually at around 250-400 kcals, and recovery time is around 6-10 hours. Whoop told me after this gym session that I consumed 88 kcals and zero recovery was needed. Something was indeed off.

For Garmin, the same gym sessions look like this:

I use the Cardio Program with Garmin allows me to track HR from the belt. Perhaps that's a fundamental difference, but the Garmin is spot on, even without the belt.


Whoop is a great idea, and I love the device's form factor. It's small and works. Yet, it still reserves the wrist but doesn't even give me the time with a glance.

Considering the cost of using the device—up to 1 €/day—and the mixed results from my training, I'd love to like the device more. But I just can't.

The Whoop is better for running but less useful for everyday living. As such, I'll return the device and consider upgrading my Garmin to a newer model someday.