Monday, June 5, 2023

Apple Fitness + training service: enthusiasm, energy and a lot of integration

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Apple’s new workout video service, called Fitness +, looks a lot like other app-based exercise programs. It includes a plethora of videos led by fit and enthusiastic instructors that walk users through activities like yoga, treadmill running, and indoor rowing.

But while Fitness + is less sophisticated than many competing apps used by workout enthusiasts, deep integration with Apple’s other apps and devices makes it a solid choice for business fans. In fact, you must have an Apple Watch to sign up for the service and an iPhone, iPad, orApple TV decoder to watch videos.

As an avid Apple Watch user, this suited me fine. But the device’s requirements deviate from competing apps like Sweat and Fitbod, which don’t require an Apple Watch and are often compatible with a variety of wearable devices.

When testing Fitness + over a day, I found the video production values ​​to be high, the music choices varied but all top notch, and the instructors had energy to spare. There is also a great selection of videos in each of the 10 workout categories, with more adding every week.

Watching the videos on a phone or tablet works best when using exercise equipment like an indoor bike or treadmill. But I mostly enjoyed my standing workouts watching them on a big TV screen.

Another element that I liked is that Apple lets the personalities of the different animators shine through. In a high intensity workout, Bakari was all smiles as we sweated to the beat of 80s classics from Rick James and Devo. Meanwhile, Kim, a teacher in the same category, seemed a bit more picky and preferred more current tunes from KDA and Jax Jones. In a “mindful cooldown” to end my fitness party, Jessica was warm and encouraging.

Each instructor has their own page in the Fitness + app which has a mini bio about them, a list of their videos, and a link to their Instagram accounts (otherwise I would never have guessed that the strength and strength leader base training Amir played the offensive lineman at UCLA).

And Fitness + is, as I mentioned, deeply integrated with Apple devices. When watching a video, you can start, pause, or end it from your Apple Watch. You can also add any song from a video in Fitness + to your Apple Music app playlists. And Fitness + users can watch videos not only on their own Apple TV, but on any Apple TV (as long as it’s running the latest software). The device connects to the Fitness + user’s account and leaves no trace of data. It could be handy if I’m traveling after the pandemic is over.

Despite all of these advantages, the Apple Fitness + seems best suited to beginner and intermediate users, not more advanced users. Videos are categorized only as “absolute beginner” or just typical. There are no double black diamond workouts here. And unlike popular services from exercise equipment manufacturers like Peloton and NordicTrack, the Fitness + app has no way of getting performance readings from the machines you’re working on. It only tracks heart rate data from the Apple Watch and performs its own calorie burning calculations (Apple Watch itself tracks other parameters such as the number of steps and oxygen levels in the body. blood, but these are not connected to the Fitness + app).

Apple’s service does not track or calculate any progress on your way to getting fitter. My Strava app for running and cycling, for example, has all kinds of workout trackers like a daily fitness score and a weekly intensity meter. It uses my performance, tracking perceived exertion, and heart rate over time to calculate them. In contrast, Fitness + reports all workouts to Apple’s old ring-based daily fitness goal tracker, but it doesn’t offer much advice beyond that.

Instead, the service recommends workout more like a music streaming app. What songs, I mean workouts, have you liked in the past? Let’s try a few more of these.

Some competing services offer more sophisticated suggestions based on the actual performance of users in their exercises. Apple says Fitness + will try to recommend other types of exercise if you stack workouts that are too similar (all rowing all the time? Maybe it’s time to give yoga a try).

A Fitness + membership alone costs $ 10 per month or $ 80 per year, and it can be shared among up to six family members. It’s cheaper than many competing apps, although, as mentioned, Fitness + isn’t nearly as sophisticated.

Anyone who already owns an Apple Watch can get one month of Fitness + for free, and new Apple Watch buyers get three months free. Some gyms also offer Fitness + free with their subscriptions, starting with Life Time Gyms. And the exercise service is also included in Apple’s mega-bundle, the Apple One Premier plan, which costs $ 30 per month and also includes Apple Music, Apple TV +, and other services.

And this is perhaps the most logical source for early Fitness + users. Many people who haven’t focused on fitness can get it by simply signing up for the top plan that requires more cloud storage space or looking for the most established music and TV services. .

Fitness + is perfect for people who are returning to training after falling during the pandemic or deciding to dabble for the first time, as long as they own an Apple Watch, that is.

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