Queens University of Charlotte, a university in North Carolina hosting approximately 2,500 undergraduate and graduate students, is set to trial the mobile fitness app Wattson Blue for all its athletes.
The Wattson Blue app places an emphasis on how non-training stressors, such as academic and emotional factors have an impact on athletes and their ability to recover from training.
A study, led by Dr Amy Knab (director of the Exercise and Sport Science Laboratory and Associate Professor of the University’s Kinesiology Department) is set to start in late August, with athletes in all sports offered by the university taking part. The overall aim will be to enhance student-athlete well-being and discover factors affecting this.
There will be a combination of in-app questionnaires and analysis of the correlation between the metrics displayed by the app and the athletes’ performance. Coaches will be able to access the athletes’ data via the app’s coaches console.
A combination of a customised daily well-being questionnaire, review of sleep quality and length, heart rate variability (HRV) and resting heart rate allows Wattson Blue to provide ‘bespoke feedback to individual athletes, helping them to prioritise their well-being and find the right balance between stress and recovery.’
The app provides users with a daily Readiness Score to indicate at what volume and intensity they should train.
Activities may be added directly to Wattson Blue or synced via Strava, allowing athletes to track and monitor training load, time in zones, RPE, and long-term fitness and fatigue measures. Health information tracked via Apple Health can also be synced to the app, as well as data from Oura, a service which monitors sleep and HRV through a wearable ring.
Development for Wattson Blue began in 2017 at Oxford University. The app is currently used by the university’s men’s and women’s rowing crews, who take part in the annual Boat Race against Cambridge University, as well as the lightweight rowing crews.
Katherine Ferris, who rowed in the Oxford lightweight women’s crew against Cambridge this year, said that the app “let me know when I needed to prioritise my recovery. The heart rate function was a really good warning sign, if it were to suddenly spike or drop down, it would let me know that I should start to adjust my training, take care of myself a bit more.”
Since then, the app has been used more widely by student and amateur athletes, with a focus by the brand on cyclists and runners.
The app, available for iOS and Android, is specifically designed to operate without the need for additional fitness devices, ‘widening its reach to more athletes on campus.’