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While they were once the domain of gym rats and bio-hacking disruptor types, fitness trackers and wearables are (for better or worse) one of the more accessible fitness gadgets on the market these days and the hunger for data inches its way into all sorts of wellness markets. Which means you have your smart watches (FitBit and Apple Watch hive, what’s good?) and even smart sex toys (no really) that can tell you a bit more about your body at any given time — and it’s really just up to you to decide whether the information is useful, interesting or TMI.
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For those of you keeping up with my various adventures in fitness tracking, you’ll remember I dug my Apple Watch and all the nerdy data she had to offer (with the caveat that I think it’s essential to set boundaries to stay mindful of picking up disordered or obsessive behaviors).
But, unfortunately, one thing I did struggle with was pretending to be a watch person. Because I’ll own that, I’m just not a watch person. Sure, I still strap it on for a ride on my silly little hamster wheel bike desk or when I am away from my phone but still need to be relatively reachable (ugh) or want hands-free music access (that’s the only reason I really will never part with mine), but I’ll admit needing to charge it and then remember to put it on and then feel bad when I see I haven’t been reaching whatever arbitrary goals I set for myself because I forgot to charge it and put it on sorta set me up for a feedback loop of failure after a bit that made the whole enterprise less geeky fun and more of a chore.
So you can imagine, when the folks at Oura Ring sent me one of their nifty little gadgets, I was cautiously optimistic. While I am not a watch person, I very much am a ring person. I love having an aggro not-brass (because I’m a silver lady myself) knuckle of rings stacked on my hand at any given time and am way more likely to remember to want to put on that kind of jewelry than the clunky James Bond watch. (I’m sorry, it’s true — don’t hate me.)
So after being sent their sizing kit (extremely helpful and made the process less confusing for figuring out what would actually be comfortable to wear for extended periods of time) and fairly quickly getting my Oura Ring — in silver, naturally — I committed to wearing it for a month to see, for real, how it fit into my life.
A bit about the ring: It is a sturdy piece of jewelry (sorry if your tastes trend toward more dainty looks) but stays lightweight at four to six grams. It’s meant to sit comfortably (not too tight or loose) on your index finger. The Oura Ring Generation 3 that I tried out comes in silver (like mine), gold, black and stealth and has a four to seven day battery life (something ya girl definitely needed) is compatible with Apple Health and Google Fit. It’s also water proof up to 100m — but I got nervous and took it off whenever I did dishes or showered, so I cannot really speak to that. They retail at $299 ($399 if you want gold), which can be a bit more of an investment purchase for most people — plus a monthly subscription of $5.99 to use the app. They are offering a promotion for a free six months of app use to first-time Oura buyers, if that’s something that makes the numbers feel more comfortable for you.
Differing from other products in this space, Oura is branded more as a sleep tracker and really tries to prioritize balancing your rest and your activity (with the knowledge that the latter is always going to suffer if you don’t mind the former). And, by nature of not having a screen, you do need to use their app to access all the sweet, sweet data she’s keeping track of — but I found the app to be incredibly user-friendly, engaging and not annoying or intrusive in my life. I even did a few of their guided meditations on a few mornings where my readiness score (which looks at your resting heart rate, body temperature, recovery time and how well you slept, among other things) seemed a bit low and meh for my tastes, which felt way more like a value-added to how I approached movement and sleep during this trial rather than yet another thing to look at on my screen.
Overwhelmingly, that felt like the vibe of this product — as I got used to day-to-day use the ring just kinda slid into my routine without feeling like A Whole Thing. Which, for me, is a total selling point. I don’t like when wellness gadgets try to bully me into walking or stretching or breathing or chirp at me about everything I’m not doing all day — but that’s just a little life-robot boundary that I personally care about. I could opt-in to those things through the app but was mostly given the information I wanted without the finger-wags that can sometimes come from fit-tech of this nature. But otherwise wearing the ring during a workout or a night sleep stayed pretty consistently unobtrusive — I only pulled it off in my sleep once, apparently, but just slid it back on in the morning. And it was cool to have a neat little graph of my heart-rate during various activities on top of getting the little gamification validation of reaching an activity goal.
“I don’t like when wellness gadgets try to bully me into walking or stretching or breathing or chirp at me about everything I’m not doing all day — but that’s just a little life-robot boundary that I personally care about.”
I even wore it during sex (for science!) because a) as a Health and Sex Editor, I consider it my duty to push the boundaries of Making Things Weird for content and b) I was deeply curious about what the data would look like but never would’ve been comfortable wearing a Fitbit or Apple Watch in bed with any of my partners (like, come on). So after getting the giggles out about me being a nerd and wanting to see a bio data representation of bedroom activities (I’ll own that), it stayed completely a non-issue. Alas, the little graph post-game didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know about my sex life and my body — but I can imagine the folks in the sweet spot of the Venn Diagram of nerds and pervs can enjoy the fun of getting a good sexual workout in and actually seeing it in semi-real time.
All in all: I’m enjoying this next generation of fitness tracking — sleeker, less loud and more of a natural addition to my lifestyle. I think if you’ve been on the fence about getting in on all the sweet, sweet sleep and activity data but in a more streamlined, aesthetic-friendly way, the Oura Ring might be your way in without feeling too weird.
Before you go, check out my favorite workout recovery products to give your body some extra love after a sweat sesh: