By Jason Snell
December 15, 2020 3:18 PM PT
One day with Fitness+
Apple’s latest service, Fitness+, arrived on Monday, and over the last 24 hours I’ve pedaled to 80s hits, jumped around my living room in an introductory high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout, and added a set of new exercises to work my core.
I am literally sweating the details for you, dear reader.
More seriously, I’m probably in the best cardiovascular shape I’ve been in since I was a student. This isn’t saying much, but after a couple of failed attempts at it, I’ve been running regularly for most of this year. I am the proverbial Couch to 5K person, having run two (virtual, alas) 5K races in 2020.
It’s the Apple Watch and AirPods that have really done the job for me. As I detailed during one of my first attempts to run regularly, I’ve managed to find a happy place running with just my cellular watch and AirPods, listening to podcasts via the Overcast watch app. I used the Couch to 5K schedule in Intervals Pro to guide my workouts until they transformed into “just run for X minutes,” at which point I switched over to Apple’s own workout app. These days I generally just try to go out into my neighborhood for two-mile runs two or three times a week.
The last couple of months, it’s been two times a week a lot more often than three, so I’ve begun wondering if I might want to officially replace that third run with some other kind of exercise routine. I have an old stationary bike, but pedaling idly while streaming “Deep Space Nine” wasn’t as great as I had hoped.
Fortunately, I have the AppleOne bundle, which is already saving me money on my existing Apple stuff—and Fitness+ comes with the bundle, free! (This is an interesting potential future path for Apple’s services strategy—loading more ancillary services that are tightly integrated with Apple’s other products into its services bundle, and perhaps being a little less concerned about how they fare as a standalone offering.)
This is all to say that I spent half an hour this morning pedaling my ancient recumbent exercise bike to the hits of the ’80s while being motivated by an extremely chipper trainer who was once a contestant on “The Amazing Race,” and I kind of loved it. This will not be news to anyone who has taken a spinning class or has become One With The Peleton, but it actually helps to spend your time exercising with someone who can guide you, motivate you, and make your endless pedaling feel like something more than a monotonous grind!
The Apple Watch feedback helps a lot, too. The service requires you to have an Apple Watch, and is integrated deeply with it. Seeing my heart rate appear live in the Fitness app was not only motivational but helpful in regulating my pace and my bike’s resistance level, keeping myself in the appropriate zone for whatever portion of the workout we were doing.
That was a full 30-minute workout, after which I needed to shower and change. But on Monday night I did a couple quick introductory courses on Core and HIIT, just on my living room floor, and I came away with the same impressions: Apple Watch integration is great, and having a good trainer to motivate you makes all the difference.
I’m really impressed with the production values of Fitness+ video courses, too. Not only are the presenters polished and friendly—I think they’ve been getting the same training as Apple’s tech executives—but the whole thing exudes the aesthetic we’ve come to expect from Apple. The videos look great, with brilliant lighting and a gorgeous set of backgrounds inside the Fitness+ studio in Santa Monica. So much wood! So many smiling, sweaty people! (Okay, maybe the WWDC presenters don’t glisten so much.)
The service comes with a free one-month trial, so if you’re an Apple Watch owner, it’s worth giving it a look and seeing if it might work for you. It’s definitely not for everyone—and there are also plenty of competitors out there—but it feels like Apple has made a credible entry that has the potential to help a lot of people become more fit.
I’ve already been doing my part while jogging around my neighborhood listening to podcasts—but maybe pedaling to The Fixx and The Go Go’s could be a nice addition to my routine.