Sometimes it feels like I’m the last person in America without an Apple Watch, but I’m just not a watch person. I’m not an anything on my wrists person — I don’t wear bracelets, I don’t even wear hair ties (don’t worry, I just keep approximately 19 in every bag I own). But I am interested in my activity data. I like seeing where I fall on the leaderboard in a fitness class, I always check my walking distance on my phone, and I’m a little jealous of people talking about closing their rings.
So when I found out that wearable technology company Whoop started making apparel designed to house their Whoop 4.0 fitness tracker, I was pumped. All the benefits of their tracker, but built into your clothes? Sign me up. Whoop Body includes leggings, sports bras, bralettes, and underwear in different styles for women, and T-shirts, shorts, and underwear for men. Each item has a pocket somewhere for the Whoop sensor, which monitors your heart rate to calculate the cardiovascular strain you’re putting your body through with your activities, from HIIT to walking your dog. It tracks your sleep cycles, too, and gives you its signature “recovery score” to guide your next day’s activities.
I decided to try the Any-Wear™ Leggings ($109) since I already wear black leggings nearly every day, all day. My first impression: these have pockets!! And not just the little pocket on the side of your calf for the sensor; there are pockets near the waist on both sides and a little zipper pocket on the back. They reminded me a lot of the old Lululemon Pace Rival leggings that had a back pocket.
As for that sensor: it’s the same inch-square-ish one that you wear on your wrist; you just take the wristband off and slide it into the pocket. It took me a few tries to get the hang of reattaching the wristband correctly, but after that, it was pretty simple to switch them around.
I washed the leggings right away, and they air-dried so quickly, so I knew before I even wore them that they’d be perfect for sweaty activities. When I put them on, I noticed that they felt really breathable even while providing compression, which was great. However, I didn’t feel like they were as high-rise as advertised, hitting around my belly button, not my waist.
Now it was time to put them to the test.
Activity 1: Barre
I paired the Whoop app with my tracker in just a few minutes, selected barre from the list of activities, and started my 30-minute class. The leggings provided plenty of stretch to support me through all the lunges and pulses, but when I laid on my side for clamshells, it was a little uncomfortable, as I was leaning right on the device. I don’t count calories, but I did think the app’s count of 59 felt low for a half-hour workout (more on that later).
Activity 2: Walking
One nice thing about the Whoop is you don’t have to tell it when you’re starting an activity: you can go back and input what you were doing when. So when I wore the leggings all day long, I just popped into the app at the end of the day and noted my long walk and commute. The leggings were pretty comfortable to walk around in and the pockets proved really handy. But the Whoop looks at your personal cardiovascular health and isn’t a step counter. Since I like to know how many miles I’ve walked each day, I still needed my phone to tell me.
Activity 3: Cardio Boxing
The leggings stretched well through all the moves, and their breathability felt great doing this super-sweaty class. I actually had to test this one twice, because the first time, the data cut off halfway through. I think this is because I didn’t velcro it into its little pocket tightly enough, and it moved out of place during all the kicking and jumping. But in the class where I had it positioned correctly, it was fascinating to see my heart rate data (punching the air requires more cardio than I realized!).
Activity 4: Sleeping
The Whoop’s built-in sleep coach can calculate your optimal amount of sleep and recommend the right bedtime, with the best suggestions after four nights’ data. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get there. The compression and rise of the leggings were fine for daytime wear, but I found them really uncomfortable to sleep in and ended up switching back to my usual soft shorts in the middle of the night.
If you don’t want to wear a fitness tracker on your wrist, wearable tech like Whoop Body is a great option. The clothes are designed for all activities, and you totally forget the tracker is there. But keep in mind that, like any tracker, it’s not going to give you the full picture of your fitness or well-being. Because Whoop’s data is based on heart rate, when I did that barre class, Whoop classified it as a “recovery” activity for me. Sure, barre isn’t exactly cardio, but I’d never call something that involves two straight minutes of bicep curls followed by setting my glutes on fire recovery — I’d call it a good workout. So while I wouldn’t return to the leggings for sleep, I’ll happily add them to my rotation for sweaty workouts and walks on warm days.