Apple Fitness+ gives users a new way to workout at home


Apple Fitness+ is available now and it comes at the perfect time. Now, Apple Watch users have a new way to get high-quality workouts at home in as little as ten minutes. I’ve been an early tester of the service and here are my thoughts.

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For starters, we know that fitness apps have gotten a big boost from the pandemic. I’ve tested several apps over the past nine months at home including Onyx, Aaptiv and a lot of Peloton.

“Everybody, with gyms being closed, has been forced to work out in their apartments, homes, parks, and people have gotten very creative with those workouts,” said Liz Plosser, editor in chief of Women’s Health, in an interview over Skype.

The main two things to know about Apple Fitness+ is that it requires an Apple Watch and it costs $10 a month for the entire family.

“We’ve been working on Apple Fitness+ for a while, certainly well before COVID and the pandemic and one of the primary goals of Apple Fitness+ was to allow people to work out anywhere at any time,” explained Jay Blahnik, who oversees the Apple Fitness+ program.

The service lives inside Apple’s Fitness App, which is preinstalled on every iPhone (update to iOS 14.3 to see it). You can follow along with the video workouts on an Apple TV, iPhone or iPad.

The interesting thing about Apple TV is that your Fitness+ home screen can appear on any Apple TV you encounter, not just your own. The Apple Watch somehow “talks” to the Apple TV to wirelessly authenticate you and unlock your personalized workout screen on the TV. It’s pretty slick, and if I ran an Airbnb this would definitely make me want to install an Apple TV in there for visitors (ya know, when we can do those kinds of things again).

I tried a spin class, HIIT, core and strength workouts. There are also treadmill classes, rowing, dance and more. The classes originate from a slick custom-built studio in Los Angeles. It’s immediately clear that these workouts are for everyone, not just fitness buffs.

I love how every class has three instructors, one doing the “typical” workout, then one modifying it for beginners or those with injuries, and another who is going all out for advanced users.

“There are workouts curated specifically for people that are just beginning, helping them build confidence and stamina,” explained Blahnik.

The best part of Apple Fitness+ are the live metrics beamed from your Apple Watch and displayed on screen as you workout. You can see your heart rate, calories burned and the current status of your “rings” while you work out. It’s super motivating and you come to glance at them over and over as you workout.

There are other touches – like an animation when you close a ring and countdown timers when you’re doing a specific set, like 40 seconds of burpees. Don’t those sets always seem to feel longer than their actual time? I digress.

My favorite part is the “burn bar,” which compares the calories you’ve burned to others who’ve taken the same class.

“It’s an anonymous way to kind of see how you rate up against other people that have done this workout… kind of see where you’re at in the pack,” explained Blahnik.

Since it’s Apple, all of your data inside Apple Fitness+ is private. Apple doesn’t see your user ID associated with the classes you take or the calories you burn.

Unlike Peloton, there are no live classes, but you will find a great mix of trainers, personalized recommendations for classes and even 10-minute workouts so there are no excuses for not closing your rings. I’ve grown to love the 10-minute workouts because there is so much less pressure. I’ve been stringing together three 10 minute classes – say a strength, HIIT and core – for a complete workout.

Everything ends with a mindful cooldown. That’s also purposeful and smart. Nearly every other digital workout class I’ve tried ends with a cool down, but if you’re stringing a few classes together, you might not need a cooldown after every one. Apple recognizes this so when you’re ready, you just hit the cool down button and pick the right class for the occasion.

“I think they waited watched and learned a lot from how other brands were approaching virtual fitness, and now they can take all those learnings and lessons and create what they think is the perfect experience for their userbase,” concluded Plosser.

Now, about that million-dollar question: is Apple Fitness+ going to push out Peloton? I will say that I still prefer the energy of my Peloton spin classes a bit better, but maybe that’s just because I’m used to them. But, I prefer nearly every other class that I’ve taken on Apple Fitness+ to what Peloton offers in different categories, except outdoor running, Apple Fitness+ doesn’t have that.

I don’t see all Peloton users flocking over, but I do see many of them adding Apple Fitness+ to the mix. At $10 a month for the entire family, it’s not much of a stretch to have both, especially since many users will be getting it as part of a bundle subscription plan that includes music, cloud storage, games and more.

If you already have an Apple Watch, Apple Fitness+ is a no-brainer way to help you close your rings more often. If you don’t have an Apple Watch, the service might just push you to get one. And that’s precisely one of the reasons why it’s here.

Everyone can sign up for a free one month trial. New Apple Watch buyers from September 15, 2020 through March 31, 2021 get three months free.

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