“Fitness + motivates you to close your activity rings, but is lacking in key areas.”
Seamless integration with the Apple Watch
Diversity of likeable trainers
Variety of training types
New content every week
Requires an Apple Watch Series 3 or later and an iPhone
No live courses
Some exercises require special equipment
Because of gym restrictions and pandemic issues, many people are building their own gym instead of throwing away their hard-earned cash on gym membership. Services like Apple Fitness + fill that void as the move to home fitness is transforming the fitness industry. Can an online stream replace your personal Pilates class? We tested Apple Fitness + to find out.
Apple Watch is the killer feature
Apple Fitness + is available for the iPad, iPhone, and Apple TV, but was designed specifically for the Apple Watch. As soon as you open a workout on your iPhone, it is immediately displayed on the Apple Watch. Your watch will then send your health data to your connected device for you to view if you follow the trainer’s lead.
I realized that I connected with the coaches and wanted to train with them.
As you exercise, you can watch your activity rings increase as you get closer to meeting your exercise goals. You can also see your heart rate, time and calories burned. It’s a small feature, but incredibly motivating to see all of your stats on the big screen. Since it is displayed on your screen, there is no need to keep looking at your watch. This is huge for someone like me who is likely to stumble or lose rhythm looking at my wrist.
I can’t get the mood up
Apple Fitness + is great for beginners to advanced users, provided they have the right equipment. Most cardio workouts require a treadmill, bike, or step machine and are not interchangeable. Unlike iFit, which films landscape-related activities suitable for any machine, Fitness +, for example, requires a bike to complete the bike training.
You will also need dumbbells or kettlebells to complete many of the strength activities. You might be able to swap bodyweight exercises, but it’s not the same. You can also skip workouts that require specific equipment, but eliminating so many exercises seriously affected my experience. Instead of having a “can-do” feeling, I often had a “can-do” feeling when browsing the training library. To be fair, Apple offers walking workouts and dance classes that don’t require special equipment, but there are few. I would love to see more of this creative, equipment-free content.
This “can’t” feeling was reinforced by a limited user interface. Fitness + divides the workouts into broad categories (intense interval training, yoga, core, strength, treadmill, cycling, rowing, dancing, and mindful cooldown) to help you find the right exercise. Once in a category, I found it difficult to find the right workout for my fitness level. There was no way to filter activities based on difficulty or equipment required. I had to choose a workout and then read the description to see if it was appropriate for me. This hunt-and-peck method of finding activity was tedious.
Diverse, enthusiastic trainers
Apple is the master of looks, so it’s no surprise the Fitness + videos are highly polished. The videos are recorded in a beautiful studio gym with great camera angles so you can see exactly how the trainer moves. The workouts feature happy music and personable coaches who encourage you to “close those rings”.
There’s no way to filter activities, and the Hunt-and-Peck method of finding a workout was tedious.
Apple’s coaches reflect a wide variety of races, ages, and body types that I really valued. Since these were normal and not particularly healthy top athletes, I found that I connected with the coaches and wanted to train with them. Their enthusiasm was contagious. Apple also adds content weekly so I keep coming back to find out what’s new.
Moderate workouts but no live content
Fitness + is aimed at the large number of iPhone and Apple Watch owners. It is aimed at beginners to advanced and not advanced athletes. Established fitness fanatics could use Fitness + to add to their existing routine or do cross-training on a day off, but it won’t replace their existing high-intensity routine.
Most workouts are easy to follow and some are even scalable. This is a function that other exercise programs should do. With these scalable strength training sessions, you can choose to complete the selected activities, improve them with more advanced activities, or downsize the exercises if you have an injury or just want to take it easy. This flexibility encourages you to keep going even when an injury or illness gets in the way.
As much as I’ve enjoyed Fitness +, the service has a big Achilles heel. Unfortunately, unlike Peloton or Mirror, which offer a plethora of live classes, Apple Fitness + consists entirely of recorded videos. On-demand workouts are convenient because you can work out anytime, but they lack the community feel of a live class. Hopefully Apple will hire a few trainers to teach live classes on a daily basis.
Apple Fitness + requires an Apple Watch Series 3 or later, which gives you at least $ 199 back for a new watch. Also requires a monthly subscription of $ 10 or an annual subscription of $ 80. The service is also included in the Apple One Premier bundle, which costs $ 30 per month and includes Apple Music, Apple TV +, Apple Arcade, Cloud, and News +. When it comes to cost, it’s significantly cheaper than the average $ 40 per month subscription that most affiliated home gyms like Mirror, Tempo Studio, and Tonal have.
Apple Fitness + is a great workout tool for beginners to advanced users who already own an Apple Watch. A growing collection of workouts from motivational coaches encourage you to exercise. It’s a little rough around the edges, but it has potential. If Apple listens to its critics and improves the service, Fitness + Peloton could give a run for its money in the coming year.
Is there a better alternative?
Apple Fitness + shows promise, but it does require an Apple Watch. Not everyone owns an Apple Watch and doesn’t want to buy one just to exercise. Fitness +’s strongest competitor is iFit, which has an extensive library of recorded studio and outdoor activities, as well as a growing number of live workouts, and does not require a fitness watch. It’s priced at $ 10 per month and runs on a tablet or smartphone.
How long it will take?
Apple has supported and updated the software on its older devices in the past, and we expect Apple Fitness + to receive the same treatment. The service will improve over time and its shortcomings (e.g. no live training) will be a thing of the past.
Should you buy it?
Yes, Apple Fitness + may be just what the doctor ordered for Apple Watch owners who want to get fit and stay fit.