This past Tuesday, Apple finally released Fitness+, its streaming service for workouts on the Apple Watch. If you can’t find it, update your devices!
As someone who works out at a casual level (biking, yoga, and running), I’ve been waiting and waiting for Fitness+ to launch. Now that it has, I’ve given it a preliminary shake to see what it’s all about.
Here’s my review so far, starting with a recap of what Fitness+ is.
What is Apple’s Fitness+?
As mentioned, Fitness+ is Apple’s new streaming service for working out. On it, you’ll find workouts for HIIT, yoga, your core, strength, treadmill, indoor cycling, dance, rowing, and mindful cooldowns. Apple’s hired world-class trainers to host each workout in a fancy studio in Los Angeles.
Anyone with an Apple device can use Fitness+ for $10/month. However, you’ll certainly get the most out of your Fitness+ workouts if you also have an Apple Watch. That’s because Apple has built some cool integration into the service for Apple Watch users.
While you workout with the Apple Watch, you’ll see your current heart rate, calories, and progress on your Activity Rings overlaid on the screen. These update in real-time with your workouts. Music is also a big part of the experience, with each workout getting a custom tracklist.
How does Fitness+ work?
After updating to the latest version of iOS, iPadOS, tvOS, macOS, and watchOS, you’ll find a new tab in the Fitness app labeled Fitness+. Tap it, sign up, and you can access workouts immediately.
The app is laid out like any other streaming app. You can browse videos by workout type, trainer, length, and playlist. You can also save workouts that you enjoyed for future use.
When you choose a workout, your Apple Watch will immediately sync to it, count down from three, and the workout will begin. Like most things Apple, the experience is simple to use and very well-integrated.
Apple’s trainers will be adding new workouts each week. It’s not clear yet if that means that every trainer/workout type will receive a new video every week or how many videos are going to be added. Still, if you work out thirty minutes a day, you shouldn’t ever run out of content.
What equipment do you need for Apple’s Fitness+?
Fortunately, Apple has kept things very lean. If you’re doing yoga, like myself, you don’t need anything to do any of the workouts. The same is true for dance and mindful cooldowns.
Strength, HIIT, and core training require you to have a pair of dumbbells, but only sometimes.
And, of course, you’ll need heavy-duty equipment for the equipment-specific workouts (cycling, rowing, treadmill).
Otherwise, the app is very lightweight. I’m sure most people could use this app for years without ever spending more than the $10/month subscription.
The Fitness+ Review: What do I think so far?
I’m impressed. As mentioned before, I was already excited about the service, as the concept lines up perfectly with the Apple Watch. And, like the Apple Watch, it succeeds in making home fitness easier and more affordable.
I don’t have too many complaints, which you’ll see below. I’ve only had a few days to try it, mind you, and I am by no means a fitness expert. I’m just an ordinary, casually-fit Joe, using this service to burn a few calories and keep my stomach in check.
So if that sounds like you, here’s what you can expect from Fitness+.
The backbone of the Fitness+ service is, of course, the workouts. So how do they stack up?
I’ve been doing yoga daily for several months now through virtual training sessions. I wasn’t sure how Fitness+’s workouts would compare, but I had a suspicion that they would be too casual for daily use.
Well, I was wrong. I’ve gotten a pretty decent workout from each of the workouts I’ve followed and am probably going to need to increase my Move goal next week.
The workouts certainly weren’t unbearably difficult or anything like that. However, they were challenging. I imagine that I’d have to take a few breathers on the longer 45-minute sessions as I went.
I will say, though, that if you’re a total beginner, you might find these workouts a little off-putting. In yoga, for instance, there are poses, moves, and transitions whose names you’ll need to know, or else you’ll constantly be pausing the video to keep up. I’m sure I’d struggle to keep up in the HIIT course, as I have no experience with it.
In other words, there’s a learning curve.
I don’t have any complaints about the app, honestly. The interface is simple; combining it with the Fitness app was a smart move; things seem to sync up reliably; it isn’t difficult to find the workout you’re looking for. Everything is smooth, simple, and easy.
The closest thing I have to a complaint is that you can’t rewind or skip forward when watching a workout. You can only pause. As mentioned, this can be an issue if you’re a beginner, as you might just be learning certain moves and exercises.
Synchronization with Apple Watch
When I tried to do my first workout, I was worried this feature of the service wasn’t up to snuff yet. It said it couldn’t detect my Apple Watch and asked me to start the workout without it. This happened over and over again until I reset my iPhone and Apple Watch.
Since then, though, I haven’t had any issues. In fact, I’ve enjoyed this feature far more than I expected to. In the previews from a few months ago, the synchronization seemed more like a helpful gimmick than anything else. Something that made sense to add, but not something that would alter the experience of exercising.
Once again, I underestimated this feature. Having my heart rate, calories, and Activity Rings on the screen is way more motivating than I thought it would be. It’s also helpful in seeing how hard I’m working out, when I should be pushing more, and when I should be easing back.
This might be my favorite aspect of the entire service. It’s cool.
From what I’ve gathered, these trainers are all somewhat well-known within the fitness community. Admittedly, I’ve never heard of any of them. So this is my first exposure to them.
I would say that they get the job done. Some have more flare than others, but at the moment, trainers feel very to the point. They introduce the workout, walk you through the workout, and then sign off.
If that’s all you want, then you’ll love it. They’re clearly experienced; the yoga instructors are already changing the way I view certain poses with their commentary. Apple brought in the right talent.
I would enjoy a bit more personality. Other virtual trainers I’ve followed tend to be more vocal and personable, making jokes, offering support, and creating a more intimate environment.
For now, the Fitness+ service feels a bit sterile. It’s a mild complaint, considering the talent and quality are there. But the community feel of other workout services is missing from Fitness+.
Molly Fox is excluded from this – her workouts are very fun.
Last but not least, we have the price. Honestly, aside from Apple Music, I don’t think there’s a better deal when it comes to streaming. It’s a high-quality service that Apple could easily charge double for.
With the weekly updates, variety of workouts and trainers, you should be able to use this service every day without ever running out of content.
In my opinion, $10 is a steal.
Is Apple’s Fitness+ the perfect home gym companion?
It’s close, that’s for sure. I wish the music that plays in the background was optional or customizable. I think a search feature needs to be added asap. The trainers are professional but not the most engaging, which probably says more about Apple’s directing than the trainers themselves. And I hope that Apple starts adding stretches to the app.
But those are all minor complaints and shouldn’t stop anyone from giving the service a shot. You can start a no-commitment free trial, so be sure to test it for yourself. I think it’s a great start, I’d just like a bit of tweaking for it to be 100% in my book.
Stay fit, and close your rings!