Fitness Technology

I Let My WHOOP Recovery Score Dictate My Workouts For a Week, and It Made Me Fall In Love With Fitness Again

Zoe Weiner

Photo: Equinox
My biggest complaint about at-home workouts is that there are so many options out there, it's become impossible to decide which one I want to do on a given day. For the past year, I've started most mornings scrolling through hundreds of classes across the dozen or so apps on my phone, feeling myself in a free-fall as I try to figure out whether I want to take a 20-minute yoga class or spend an hour lifting weights.

This is a privileged problem to have, no doubt, but it's left me feeling so overwhelmed that—on more than one occasion—I've skipped my workout altogether. Now, however, thanks to a partnership between Equinox's EQX+ app and WHOOP, I decide my next workout based on what my body needs.

How the technology works

When WHOOP launched three years ago, it quickly became a fitness-world must-have because of the data it's able to provide. The device tracks your strain (meaning: what you're doing during your workouts and in your regular activities) and your sleep to deliver a heart-rate-variability-based "recovery score". This number is meant to tell you how much your body can handle on a given day: A green recovery score means that you're ready to go 110 percent, while a red one is a sign that you should probably take it easy.

On its own, this data can help you figure out how hard you should push yourself in your workouts, but EQX+ is using this information to suggest exactly which classes you should try based on that recovery score. “With the addition of these new, next-level connected experiences, members will better understand what workout they need that day—even if it’s not the one they thought they wanted to do,” Samir Gole, VP of Product at Equinox Media, previously told Well+Good. “For example, maybe you had scheduled an early SoulCycle class on the SoulCycle at-home bike, but when you wake up, Equinox+ and WHOOP let you know—hey, you didn’t sleep too well—you really should get a little more rest and do a 30-minute PURE Yoga class later instead.”

The EQX+ app is full of choices, which means there's no shortage of recommendations coming through on a given day. It's got classes in a wide range of modalities from Solidcore, Rumble, TB12, Pure Yoga, and Precision Run, plus HIIT and strength classes taught by Equinox trainers and Headstrong meditations.

What happened when I tried it

To get the full experience of the new integration, I was given access to the app and an at-home SoulCycle Bike, and I spent a week letting the EQX+ app tell me exactly which workouts to do. After a night of crappy sleep (and, if we're being honest, a few too many glasses of wine), for example, I got a red recovery score and a whole bunch of yoga class suggestions. The next day, when my body was rested and my recovery score was green again, the app knew I could handle either an hour-long strength-training session or a SoulCycle class on the bike.

For the first time in a long time, I found myself getting excited again about my at-home workouts. WHOOP coolness aside, the experience of using the EQX+ and SoulCycle bike has blown every other at-home fitness app I've ever tried (and trust me, there have been many) out of the water. In addition to offering pretty much every type of workout you could possibly think of, the experience makes you feel like you're in an IRL class—even when you haven't left your studio apartment in a week. "We made a decision early on that it was important to create an immersive experience for our members that transport them to the front row of the studio, wherever they are," says a spokesperson from Equinox Media. "That meant emphasizing classes through our inspiring instructors, heart-pounding playlists, and cinematic content, with the user interface system and its components playing background to it."

Having access to an at-home bike has also helped make a major difference in my routine. Considering you're only supposed to do so much HIIT in a given week, getting my 150 minutes of recommended weekly cardio has been a challenge ever since my workouts have moved into my living room. Having the option to sweat it out during a SoulCycle class has made me genuinely look forward to my cardio sessions, but the bike has a whole range of options so that I can use it no matter what my recovery score looks like on a given day. The classes range from 30 to 60 minutes and the bike tells you whether you're in for a beginner, intermediate, or advanced-style session, which means that I can treat myself to some sort of low-impact cardio pretty much every day. And let me tell you: There is no better cure to a meh feeling than sprinting it out to N*Sync—even if you've got to do it with the resistance turned all the way down.

Admittedly, I've never been great at listening to my body. Despite knowing the importance of recovery, I'm sometimes guilty of imposing the go-hard-or-go-home mentality upon myself. Because of this (unhealthy and categorically incorrect) mindset, I've pushed myself to the point of overtraining on numerous occasions. But having an app that can tell me exactly what my body needs based on real, personalized data has been a complete game-changer. Not only are my home workouts now more enjoyable, but they're also better for my body, and that—to me, at least—is worth investing in.

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