BEAUTY IN THE FRIDGE

Everything You Need to Know About the New Apple Fitness+ Service

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When many gyms closed last year and people scrambled to find new ways to exercise at home, streaming fitness classes soared in popularity — and some programs really hit the mark with high-quality, energetic and motivating workouts. So, when Apple recently announced the launch of its Fitness+ service, I couldn’t wait to try it out. Here’s everything you need to know about the streaming fitness program.

TRY APPLE FITNESS+

How does Apple Fitness+ work?

It’s pretty simple as long as your Apple Watch and streaming device (iPhone, iPad or Apple TV) are the right models and use the right operating systems — I had to update mine. If they’re linked to your Apple ID and you signed up for the service and downloaded the Fitness app from the App Store, you should be good to go.

Just open the app on your streaming device and choose from nine different types of workouts (HIIT, yoga, core, strength, treadmill, cycling, rowing, dance and mindful cooldown) at the top of the screen. From there, you can filter the results to match the trainer you like, amount of time you want to work out for and kind of music you want to listen to. When you select a particular workout, it lists the individual songs that will play during it, which you can also tap to view in Apple Music. If you’re not sure if the workout is exactly what you’re looking for, you can watch a short preview before committing. If you’re new to strength, HIIT, yoga or core exercises, there are beginner workouts in which the instructors will walk you through the basics.

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When you’re ready to start your sweat session, just tap the play button, either on your Apple Watch or on the device you’re streaming from. Your Watch will automatically sync with the workout video and show your heart rate and calorie burn on the screen as you exercise. I found it really helpful to see my heart rate on screen without having to pause whatever move I’m in the middle of to look at my Watch. On top of that, to keep you on your toes during HIIT, treadmill and cycling workouts, a “Burn Bar” displays how your last two minutes of effort compares to everyone who has done the same workout previously. (You can turn this feature off if it just adds more stress to your workout.) When finished, your data is automatically synced with your other Apple health stats.

Does it require special equipment?

The big-ticket items you’ll need to use Apple Fitness+ are an Apple Watch Series 3 or later and a qualifying iPhone, iPad or Apple TV. Those are admittedly expensive purchases, and it would be great if the service was available to everyone. However, if you already have those gadgets, you should know that most of the workouts in the app can be done with just a yoga mat; some require a set of dumbbells, while treadmill, rowing and cycling workouts require the appropriate exercise machines (a treadmill, stationary bike or indoor rower). If you happen to start a Fitness+ workout on a treadmill that’s enabled with Apple GymKit, you can connect your Apple Watch to the machine so all of your health metrics are in sync.

What else is important to know about Apple Fitness+?

  • The newest Fitness+ feature is called Time to Walk and includes audio episodes narrated by celebrities to listen to as you go for a stroll. They range from 25 minutes to 40 minutes and you just need a Watch, Fitness+ subscription and Bluetooth headphones to tune in. Tracks from Dolly Parton, Shawn Mendes, Uzo Aduba and Draymond Green are available now, but a new one will be automatically added to the Workout app on the Watch every Monday through the end of April. (If you use a wheelchair, the feature is called Time to Push and automatically starts an Outdoor Wheelchair Walk Pace workout on your Watch.)
  • When Fitness+ launched in December, it had a library of around 200 workouts. Every Monday new ones are added so there are over 300 in the collection now.
  • There’s a variety of workouts in the app, which is great if you like to constantly switch things up or do certain workouts on certain days of the week. However, if you’re a person that loves a particular type of exercise (like yoga, for example), you might get more enjoyment out of a streaming service that’s dedicated to that practice.
  • I love that some of the workouts are just 10 minutes long so I was able to squeeze in a short core workout and a HIIT one during my lunch break while working from home. (Check out the “Simple and Quick” area of the app!)
  • I noticed that after I did a HITT workout, there was a “Mindful Cooldown” button, which brought me to a page with a bunch of cooldown options. It was nice to have that reminder to cooldown and the ability to do one without digging through the app again.
  • Gym rats will probably like being able to bring an iPhone or iPad to the gym and do their favorite workouts no matter what treadmills, stationary bikes or indoor rowers that the gym has. Likewise, I bet people who travel will appreciate how easy it is to stream a no-equipment workout right in your hotel room.
  • After you complete workouts in the app or using your Apple Watch (for instance, if you go for a bike ride or a walk), the app will suggest similar ones you might enjoy. You can also add workouts you really like to the “My Workouts” section of the app. Just keep in mind that unless you do it right after you complete the workout, it may be annoying to search for it again.
  • While none of the workouts on Fitness+ are live, seeing your heart rate on the screen (as well as animations when you meet goals) makes it feel a little more interactive than many streaming fitness classes.
  • After completing a workout, there’s an icon you can tap to share it with friends via social media or Messages. If you have Activity Sharing turned on, you can also invite friends to get notifications when you work out and they can respond with preset responses of encouragement or smack talk. If you want to bring things to the next level, you and your friends can compete in week-long challenges.

    How much does it Apple Fitness+ cost?

    You can pay $9.99 per month or $79.99 per year — and then share that membership with up to five people in your family. Everyone who owns an Apple Watch gets 1 month free to start, but you get 3 free months if you buy a new Apple Watch.

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