We test the service that puts the Apple Watch front-and-center
In a world where many of us are now forced to work out at home, Apple Fitness+ couldn’t have landed at a better time.
However, this move from Apple has been long in the making. Just like its Apple Music efforts, the company has collated some of the best trainers and coaches from across the world and placed them in gym studios in the US.
It costs $9.99 per month or $79.99 a year – which undercuts most subscriptions. But this is more than just another workout app for Apple users. The Apple Watch is at its heart, with a focus on tracked exertion, heart rate, and ring-closing that brings Fitness+ to the heart of the iOS and watchOS 7 experience.
We’ve been living and sweating with it. Here’s what you need to know:
Fitness+: benefits for most people
We’ve used a host of workout apps, and Fitness+ is certainly the most beginner focussed.
We’re used to hard workouts and Fitness+ certainly keeps things accessible – and could be a little too easy for serious HIITers looking for the next endorphin rush.
We’d actually say this is a benefit for most people. Some rival apps have been so tough to start with, they’ve become demotivating. Freeletics hit us with around 80 crunches in our first session, for example.
That said, with so many filters and choices, we’d like to see graded workouts land in the future, or as a way of helping users find a level just outside of their comfort zone.
In terms of the fitness disciplines, Apple Fitness+ impressed us with the choice on offer. You get:
- Mindful cooldown
The app is geared to those who hit the gym (or have extensive home equipment), as well as those looking to get fit in the living room.
However, there’s not much there for people that run or cycle outdoors. We would have liked to see outdoor running make up part of the Fitness+ experience, and it’s certainly something that could be added in the future.
Apple Watch and Apple TV: Gives you a motivation
You can find the Fitness+ app on iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV – but it’s the latter that offers the best experience.
To say the workouts are professionally shot is an understatement, but they can be a little hard to follow on the small screen (this goes for any app-based workout).
There are three trainers on screen, and if you’re doing one of the variations (for a harder or easier workout) the technique you’re copying can be one of the coaches at the back.
Apple TV just offers the perfect experience, while iPad and iPhone are there when you’re on the move.
You can also pause and resume from the Apple Watch as well.
As Apple Watch users, it’s great that the whole service is built around the device. Closing the rings gives purpose to workouts, and helps Fitness+ become a habit.
The only downside is that there’s a cost to entry for getting on board with Fitness+. You need an Apple Watch Series 3 or later, iPhone or iPad, and we’d advise an Apple TV.
Burn Bar and Music: offer a healthy and funny experience
The Burn Bar is one of our favorite parts of the Apple Fitness+ experience, as it brings the biometrics of the Apple Watch and applies them to your workout.
During elements of the workout, Fitness+ will show you how hard you’re working compared to the rest of the community that completed the same session. This is designed to be a boost if you find yourself lagging – and because it’s based on relative effort, it shouldn’t push you beyond your capabilities.
If you don’t like the Burn Bar it can be turned off, and Apple will regularly prompt you if you still want it on.
We’ve lived with plenty of fitness apps, but we’ve never felt the desire to chain workouts together as we have with Fitness+.
Thanks to the filters, we’d often do a quick 10-minute core workout, followed by a 20-minute HIIT, and finish with a 5-minute mindfulness cooldown. In fact, doubling up on sessions became a habit – and this is a favorite part of the experience.
There are a couple of factors at play here. First is that Fitness+ is accessible and slightly easier than other services, so you feel you can go and do something else after.
But this is down to the brilliant filters and the breadth of workouts on offer. There are shorter HIIT workouts on Fitness+ than we’ve seen on rival platforms. Not all the sessions are 45 mins or an hour – there are loads of 15, 20, and 30-minute workouts to try. Again, this is aimed at more casual users.
Music is a core part of the Fitness+ experience – but we can see this being a little divisive.
Hands-down this is the best music experience on any workout app. Some of the stock music from apps like Fiit and Zova are pretty poor, and this just makes Fitness+ feel like such a premium experience.
The playlists are from big-name artists and are chosen by the trainers to really match the workout. The tempo is matched to effort, and despite it not always being music we’d listen to in our own time, we enjoyed it during the workouts.
What’s more, you can filter workouts by the music, if you really like specific vibes.
However, it might surprise some users you can’t just select your own music.
Time to Run: more for runners and people with fitness goals.
Apple Fitness+ is about to get even better for runners, with a range of new features coming to the service.
Apple has announced a host of features for Apple Fitness+, its subscription workout service that works hand-in-hand with the Apple Watch.
First up is a new focus on outdoor running – with a new Time to Run series. It’s an evolution of Time to Walk, the walking podcast with famous figures that were launched last year.
However, Time to Run puts more of an emphasis on running training, with structured sessions designed to change up your workouts, as well as chat and music. Each Time to Run is designed around a city – starting with London, Miami, and Brooklyn.
The trainers will talk about each city (you can do the exact route if you’re ever in town) but also take you through a specific type of training. Miami is about interval training, while the London run uses the letters ‘LONDON’ to impart running tips as you go.
And there’s more for runners and people with fitness goals in mind.
Apple has amassed over 2,000 workouts onto the platform in the year since launch, and it’s now creating Collections – grouped workouts that help you progress to a certain goal.
There’s a couch to 5K type collection called Run Your First 5K, but the full list is:
- 30-Day Core Challenge
- Improve Your Posture with Pilates
- Perfect Your Yoga Balance Poses
- Run Your First 5K
- Strengthen Your Back, Stretch Your Hips
- Wind Down for a Better Bedtime
There’s a mix of disciplines, goals, and levels of experience – and seems like a great new way to enter the Apple Fitness+ world as we head into 2022.
And that’s not the end of the additions.
There is new Time to Walk guided workouts from big-name figures such as Sugar Ray Leonard and Chelsea Handler, and Artist Spotlight workouts from Ed Sheeran, Pharrell Williams, Shakira, and The Beatles.
Apple has been relentlessly updating and expanding the Fitness+ service over the last year, and it feels like we’ve spoken to execs more about the platform than anything else. Just last September, the company added pilates and group workouts.
We’ve seen rivals such as Fitbit put a focus on content within their own apps, but few will be able to match the scale of Fitness+, which is setting the standard both for the quality of its workouts, and the scale and breadth.
Cut to the chase: is Fitness+ any good?
Fitness+ is a brilliant workout app for Apple Watch users – although it’s 100% more focussed on accessibility and inclusivity than rivals. And the price looks great against rival apps like Peloton and Fiit as well.
More advanced HIIT and fitness fans might find more rivals like Fiit and Freeletics up their street. Others might find the saccharine sweet schtick of the Apple trainers a little too much.
But if you’re looking to work out at home and not into beasting yourself so hard you won’t/don’t go again – Apple Fitness+ could be your fitness home.