With the acceleration of online fitness classes and now that our gyms have entered our homes, it was only a matter of time before Apple – the royalty of things hi-tech and hip – launched their own fitness platform. Apple Fitness + launched towards the end of 2020 and is designed to be used in conjunction with the Apple Watch. it
So how does it compare to other fitness platforms such as the Nike Training app, and is it something we think we could actually stick to long-term? Susannah Taylor put it to the test.
What’s the lowdown?
The nuts and bolts of Apple Fitness + are this: Apple Fitness + is powered by the Apple Watch. Once you sync your watch up to your iPhone you will have the Fitness+ app on your phone. It is essentially an interactive series of videos led by amazing fitness and yoga teachers from around the world (more on them below) that interacts with your watch as you workout.
What exercise can I do on the app?
Basically whatever floats your boat – you can choose from HIIT, Yoga, Core workouts, Strength sessions, Treadmill classes, indoor Cycling, Rowing, Dance (really fun), and ‘Mindful cooldown’ sessions. Within each category, you can choose to work out with various incredible trainers who all have various styles. For example you can do a HIIT session with Kim which is HIIT dancing or you can train with Jamie-Ray who does an intense boxing-style workout.
How does the Apple Watch come in?
You can’t get Apple Fitness+ on your phone unless you have an Apple Watch. The Apple Watch syncs with your workouts and provides you with data throughout so that you don’t have to be peering at your phone/ iPad screen when you’re mid burpee. The watch face counts you down into the workouts and gives live feedback on your personal fitness data such as calories burned, heart rate, time left etc which can spur you on when you feel you’re flagging. If you are familiar with the fitness rings on your Apple watch (which monitor your daily energy expenditure), it gives you the chance to close the rings (and some!).
Who are the instructors?
The fitness trainers are mega – top of their game, they come from all over the world and are a variety of ages (the oldest being in her 60s) which is really refreshing as is seeing trainers of every nationality and body shape. Not every body is a size 6 thankfully, and each is incredibly inspiring (they definitely have what it takes for those days when motivations lacking). You can meet all the trainers on Instagram here.
Is the app easy to navigate?
Yes, very. The different categories of fitness run across the top as icons and if you hit on one then you are taken to a page of different workouts with an image of the video next to it.
Scroll down on the homepage and you can find popular classes, information on all the trainers, and if you’ve only got 10 minutes spare, there’s a section at the bottom for quick sessions from 10 minutes of Core with Sam to 10 minutes of strength with Kyle.
What if I’m a fitness newbie?
Then you will love Apple Fitness +. Apple have really taken beginners under their wing, which is great to see (and actually great for people like my teenage daughter who has an Apple watch and who has started doing workouts in Lockdown.) On the home page there is even a whole section devoted to ‘Beginners’ where you can find gentle, low impact exercise (also great for anyone after pregnancy or after a prolonged break from exercise).
Do the trainers use music in their sessions?
Hell yes! Of course Apple are making use of their Apple Music archives. Each trainer has curated their own playlist from Apple music and for sessions like Treadmill, Cycling, Rowing and HIIT, the music is perfectly mapped around the workout to motivate you just when you need it. The music is key – one of my favourite sessions so far is grooving with dance teacher LaShawn to throwback hits like ‘It’s Raining Men’ and Whitney Houston. What’s more, the tunes are played at just the right volume so you can hear the teacher but groove along at the same time.
Note: you don’t actually have to have an Apple music subscription to use Fitness+
Do I need equipment?
Yes and no. If you want to do the rowing session, obviously you need access to a rowing machine, and ditto for the treadmill sessions. The strength classes often require dumbbells, and of course you will need a great grippy yoga mat for most, but the majority of sessions just require yourself and a bit of solid determination.
Any other Apple-esque information I may need to know?
Obviously this wouldn’t be Apple if there wasn’t some seriously clever stuff thrown in too. One being that Apple use an intelligent recommendation engine that learns which workouts you like and starts to present you with more of it on your home page.
Another key point is that you aren’t restricted to watching the app on your phone – you can watch it on your iPad and on Apple TV which is an amazing experience. I found that the bigger the trainer is in front of you, the more inspiring the workout is and the more absorbed you are.
How much does it cost?
Once you have the watch and the phone, Fitness+ is pretty affordable. It’s $9.99 a month, or $79.99 per year with one month free. Currently there is a three-month subscription to Fitness+ included free with purchase of a new Apple Watch through to March 31, 2021.
What’s a bonus is that up to six people can access your subscription, which means your family members or housemates with an Apple Watch can use Fitness+ and stay active too.
Apple Fitness + definitely has my thumbs up. The next best things to having a personal trainer on our wrist, the instructors are engaging and motivating and they even manage to make a HIIT class fun. I love the fact that it’s appealing to people of all ages and all fitness abilities and that new classes are added all the time so you will never get bored of the same routine. I’m also a big fan of having a variety of length of workouts (there are many 10 minute, 20 minute and 30 minute workouts) as I’m forever looking for something I can cram in to time I don’t have. Importantly, it will be very valuable to us when we are allowed to travel again – it’s something we can all do in our hotel rooms, on a lunch break in the office or (please!) when we are pool-side on holiday.
One element that people might not be able to get their head around however is the fact that you have to buy an Apple Watch to use the app. I feel that some people will just want to do the exercises without the watch and if this is the case then maybe Apple should think about just making the app available separately.
If you loved reading this then check out Olympic Athlete and mother Jess Ennis-Hill’s guide to ‘Exercise for Busy women’ here