As I continue my Apple Fitness+ journey and I tell friends about this challenge I set myself, I often ask the question of why? What drew me into Apple Fitness+ so much? So in this post, I want to discuss the reasons behind the madness and the challenge of it all.
When I first saw the announcement of a fitness program developed by Apple. It did tickle and tingle me in the right way. To give you context, I see myself as quite an active person. Pre-COVID, I participated in running sessions with London Frontrunners, coached swimming lessons with Out to Swim and commercial dance fitness classes with The GMDC. During COVID, these activities dramatically halted as you'd expect and so I found myself keeping myself fit all alone. The way that Apple demonstrated what Apple Fitness+ was to be was exciting. Workouts that can be done anywhere, with just my phone and my Apple watch, and whatever strength I had to give that day.
So let's get into the pros and considerations...
You can do them anywhere, if you put your mind to it. I play with the idea that I can take it to the park and just rock out a workout there. Apple demonstrated this in their video but I think in reality, unless we lived in a sunny location where we were ripped to the Gods, then that would be feasible. But practically, you could do this at home, at the gym or even on holiday as all you need is your phone and your Apple Watch.
There's flexibility in workout length. This offers workouts from 5, 10, 20, 30 and 45 minutes. So depending on time available, you have options that can slide perfectly in your busy schedule.
Core and Mindful Cooldown are the only types that have 5 minute workouts at this moment.
There are 9 different types of workout available on Apple Fitness+. 3.5 of which do require equipment. Treadmill, Cycling and Rowing could be done at a gym. And the 0.5 is the Strength workouts, where some workouts are free-weights meaning that you use your bodyweight instead of physical dumbbells. I have to admit that I did splurge some money so that I could do the Treadmill and Cycling workouts. I already had a dusty rowing machine that greeted me with open arms (albeit rusty). Needless to say, that when I start my day, I am spoilt for choice.
Another aspect of variety is the difficulty levels demonstrated by the trainers. Each workout has the trainer themselves, a trainer on the left who tends to do lower intensity and a trainer to the right who does higher intensity. So no matter where you fit or whether you have certain considerations like myself, I have sensitive knees, so you are able to opt for the lower or higher intensity as you please. Listening to your body and choosing which option is what adds that variety within the workout.
New content is released every week. Currently, 26 is the happy number that Apple have stuck to from the start. These 26 workouts across the board consist of about 8 hours of content. So unless you do more than an hour a day, you would find it hard to keep up! On top of the regular 26, they are always finding ways to innovate and motivate fitness.
They released Time to Walk seasons that encouraged you to walk outside alongside celebrities who spoke about their lives and the music that they loved. Personally, it got me walking at least once a week and taking the time to enjoy the walk instead of converting the walk into exercise minutes and calories, it distracted me from the stresses of life.
There's also programs for specific people of different fitness levels and abilities such as a Beginner's program and Workout Programs specialised for pregnancy and for older adults. This re-iterates the notion that Apple Fitness+ has the user in mind. Opening its workouts to not just the hardcore fitness fans but to be more accessible to other groups of people.
Recently, they have released workouts based on Artists called 'Artist Spotlight' so you can do workouts to the Artists you love and enjoy like Lady Gaga for instance. This is not entirely uncommon to classes that focus on songs from an Artist as a way to entice us. So it's great to see that as a way that motivates users to workout.
Finally, they have Guest Trainers, this is also quite new at the time of this post. Jeanette Trainer, being the first. This gives more variety in terms of the styles of workouts on offer. I did try a few of her workouts and I can say, the dynamic was different and refreshing. I am sure there will be more Guest Trainers to come, which opens a whole world of possibility.
Synergy with the Apple Ecosystem:
Now, you kind of need to be in the Apple ecosystem to enjoy the synergies of their products. The most direct synergy I refer to is the interaction between the Apple Watch and your screen (whether it's your iPhone or iPad). The live heartrate is something of an obsession when I workout. I am constantly checking that my heartrate represents the effort I am putting into my workout. Gone are the days where I need to keep looking at the watch to see if I am doing well. The screen will tell me and so my focus is on the screen, on the trainers and intently observing the corner where the heartrate sits.
On top of that, if you have AirPods, then being able to whip them out and have them connect instantly to device I am using is such a privilege I have grown used to. It makes things that tad bit more fluid. And I love that.
And if I am loving the playlist in a workout, I can easily tap the playlist in Apple Fitness+ for it to jump to the curated playlist in Apple Music. Here I can then add the songs
into my own playlists. Personally, I have created a playlist based on each type of genre they have available such as Upbeat Anthems, Hip-Hop/R&B, Chill Vibes and so on. It's so straightforward that it really saves time for me.
A big motivator in an Apple Fitness+ workout is the related to the live effort metrics that is fed back to you. As mentioned, the heartrate is a key measurement of effort.
A companion measurement is the Apple's own Burn Bar. A concept that is so simple yet very effective. It's an amalgamation of all the users before you to show you how well your are "burning" calories. This gives a good indicator of what the Average Joe has done and puts you in a position to decide whether you want to be just average or whether you want to be steaming full speed ahead. This Burn Bar is mainly on cardio such as the Treadmill and Cycling but also on the Rowing and HIIT. I have a pretty good idea now of where I usually sit on the Burn Bar and now every time the bar blazes up and down, I strive to keep or beat my usual placement.
What's more, in Treadmill, Cycling and Rowing, they have intensity levels that guide you through a workout plan, whether it's imitating hill training or changes in the water, they have all-out pushes on a timer that encourage you increase your effort and intensity for a short period of time. This is great for HIIT (in concept, not the workout itself). This keeps you on your toes and ensures that the workout isn't just a ride in the park.
If that's not enough, the trainers themselves are motivators, as you should expect. I find that they can paint pictures and imagery that would distract you from the work. Especially telling stories or asking you questions that gets your mind away from the gain your paining. Each trainer has their own style and their own motivational techniques. For instance Tyrell's Cycling workouts are high energy and he sings to the lyrics and gets your feeling good. Josh on the other hand is more like a traditional gym trainer where he commands you to push.
Importantly, music is a key element of a workout. Depending on the focus, you can have Pure Dance on workouts that need that beat to push you through all-out pushes or you can have Chill Vibes to cool down to in a Mindful Cooldown. I've found that if the music doesn't time well with the all-out pushes or if the music is just plain, I would generally wish the workout to be over but thankfully, this is rare as they, the trainers, do choose great music.
And finally the bonus motivation is that from the birth of Apple Watch, Activity rings have been the staple to many Apple Watch users as they strive to maintain a consistent fitness level every day. Apple Fitness+ complements this by having your rings pop up when mentioned by the trainers as a reminder that the exercise and calories you're burning are contributing to your Activity goals.
Other apps do exist...
They more or less offers a variety of workouts. I haven't tried them but I think with all the synergies I mentioned above as a recently renewed Apple enthusiast. Apple Fitness+ is a no brainer for me.
Workouts aren't hard enough
Well, the trainers do encourage that you push to what feels comfortable. So if it feels easy, perhaps you can do more. Follow the trainer on the right hand side who tends to do the harder sets. You can increase the repetitions or go faster. You could also do more varieties or even increase opt for a longer workout length for that workout type.
I'm Android/Other thing that isn't Apple
Unfortunately, this probably won't be for you. At least, you won't have the synergies that provide this platform great service, which could degrade your experience. So sadly, unless you have a partner/family member who could share with you. You probably won't be able to enjoy Apple Fitness+
Hopefully, this highlights all the pros and considerations of Apple Fitness+ with a touch of personal experience. As an Apple user with an Apple Watch, I would highly recommend the use of Apple Fitness+. Even if you're an avid exerciser, Apple Fitness+ can give you the flexibility and variety to keep you motivated to closing your rings and keeping up your fitness both home and away. With great synergy, comes great user experiences and I have to say, I'm in it for the long run.
If you have any questions, let me know.
But in the meantime, stay active, close your rings and see you next time!