I’VE WRITTEN BEFORE about the trend of professional-grade self-care tools being brought into your home by start-ups with techy vibes. Consider this piece another entry to that oeuvre, focusing on a company taking it to a whole new level.
Founded in 2009 by a doctor after his traumatic motorcycle accident, Therabody’s first product was the Theragun, a percussive massager. The photograph of the first generation of the tool, as shown on the company’s site, looks like it was made in someone’s garage. But over time, the offering evolved into something sleeker. If V1 looks like it belongs to the seedy, dimly lit real world of “The Matrix,” the current generation wouldn’t be out of place in an Apple ad, with its clean lines and streamlined black body, smooth to the touch.
Along with the evolution of their signature product, the company’s offerings have expanded. They seem to be looking to corner the high-end, post-workout market — a niche one, to be sure, but also one with deep pockets. Alongside the guns, Therabody now offers smaller personal massage tools, muscle stimulators, compression systems, and topicals and ingestibles.
I will pause here to say that not a single person who knows me well would consider me the core audience for these products. But I think I can speak with some authority about the space this company is occupying, because I live with someone who is very much their target customer. My husband is a workout machine. Alongside the gym he has assembled in our Brooklyn house, we have an entire drawer in our kitchen devoted to pre- and post-workout ingestibles — all manner of powders, pills, and tinctures meant to help optimize the work he puts in at the gym.
With all that working out, my husband is also perpetually and chronically sore. Our children buy him foam rollers for his birthday (“Daddy will love this!”), but his favorite tool seems to be a tennis ball, which he rolls under his feet and psoas constantly. While he does so, he makes a sound that makes me truly worry for his well-being. Is it good for a man of his age to torture his body the way he does? I’m not sure.
So — when the Therabody products arrived for a test drive, though I was curious to try them myself, I was more interested in testing them out on him. Here are the results of that testing, both his and mine.
The packaging for this device is sleek and feels expensive. The nod to Apple is clear — the experience of opening the product telegraphs the information that you are about to touch something special. The gun is weighty and quite powerful. The one I tried is the professional grade, and it certainly felt like something that belonged in professional hands. I found it a bit intense, but my husband loved it. My takeaway is that this is a serious, heavy-duty tool for big, tight muscles. His takeaway? “Oh, I loved this. I wish someone would use it on me every day.” SHOP NOW
In the recovery room, after my first daughter was born via emergency C-section, they sheathed my legs in compression garments to prevent blood clots. Following a long and traumatic labor, they felt like a big giant hug for my entire body. I spoke about them for years, these “leg squeezers,” and when my second daughter was born, I kid you not, I looked forward to the experience of wearing them again. Now you can OWN them. Full transparency, they require some storage. I don’t know where the average city dweller would stash such a thing. But if I lived in the suburbs and had the luxury of closets and a basement and a garage? I would buy these in a second. They are a dream for tired legs. I know they’re meant for workouts (which I don’t do much of), but I also wore them after a recent flight and felt rejuvenated. My husband did try them after an actual workout. His takeaway? “Amazing. For real.” SHOP NOW
From the Therabody Wave line, the Wave Solo looks like a vibrating tennis ball. Knowing my husband’s love of tennis balls, I bought him one as a holiday gift, with high hopes it would provide him with an upgrade to the one he uses daily. He tried it, and his verdict was less enthusiastic than I expected. “This feels like the entry-point Thera-product. It’s not intense enough for me.” After trying it myself, I concur that this is for a different consumer. It is not for the professional athlete, or for the non-professional athlete who pushes their body like one. This gentle vibrating roller? It’s for someone like me. SHOP NOW
Skye Parrott Photographer
Skye Parrott is the executive editor of Departures. A magazine editor, photographer, writer, and creative consultant, she was previously a founder of the arts and culture journal Dossier, and editor in chief for the relaunch of Playgirl as a modern, feminist publication.
Ahonen & Lamberg Illustrator
Ahonen & Lamberg is a multidisciplinary design studio based in Paris. Founded in 2006 by Finnish designers Anna Ahonen and Katariina Lamberg, the studio concentrates on art direction, creative consultancy, and graphic design.