Apple Fitness+ launches today, and if you have an Apple Watch Series 3 or newer, you can try it out. The service will cost $14.99/month (or $119.99/year) but when you buy a watch (or upgrade yours), you get a month’s access for free.
The idea behind Fitness+ is that you can watch a workout video on a screen — your phone, iPad, or Apple TV — while the system also records heart rate and other metrics from your watch. You can also do workouts on your iPhone or iPad, without the watch.
How to start using Fitness+
Fitness+ requires iOS 14.3, which was just released, and WatchOS 7.2, so before you get started, check for updates on both your watch and your phone or iPad.
Open up the Fitness app on your phone, which used to be called Activity. (It’s the “closing your rings” app that you used to get automatically when you set up your Apple Watch.) You’ll see a tab at the bottom for “Fitness+” that gives you the option to sign up for the service.
On an iPad, you’ll need to install the Fitness app from the app store.
What can you do with Fitness+?
The opening screen gives you a variety of workout options, including HIIT, yoga, strength training, core, treadmill, cycling, dance, and “mindful cooldown” workouts. New workouts will be added weekly, Apple says. The opening screen suggests some workouts to browse through (“popular,” “for beginners,” and “simple and quick” were on my screen). Once you have a favourite instructor, you can find other workouts from that person.
Each workout has a description of what type of music it comes with: some examples are “upbeat anthems,” “hip-hop/R&B,” and “chill vibes.”
Some workouts use equipment. In addition to treadmill and indoor cycling workouts, there are ones that use a rowing machine or that ask you to grab some “light and heavy dumbbells.” There are a lot of 10-, 20-, and 30-minute workouts. The longest ones I could find were a few 45-minute cycling and yoga workouts, and the shortest was a 5-minute cooldown.
If you like a workout, you can click “Add” and it will appear in a “my workouts” section at the bottom of the screen. I gave some of the 10-minute workouts a try.
What the workouts are like
As soon as you tap “Let’s go” on your screen, your watch will give you a start button. The watch interface is the same as when you track any other workout with the Activity (now Fitness) app on the watch.
The Absolute Beginner HIIT workout lived up to the first part of its name, a gentle series of 30-second exercises that I’d be happy to recommend to anyone who is totally new to exercise. (Most “HIIT” workouts you’ll see online are not, in fact, high intensity intervals, and neither is this one.)
I also did the first few minutes of a Reggaeton dance workout, which was easy to follow and a good moderate intensity.
A “burn bar” shows how your effort compares to other people who have done the same workout. (If you agree, the app will send your effort level in to be aggregated with the data that future users will be compared against.) At the end of the workout, you see your elapsed time, calories burned, and heart rate, and you’ll have the option to quit or to do one of the app’s “mindful cooldowns.”
The biggest thing the app is missing is the ability to browse workouts by intensity level, although each workout has a “preview” that shows you a little bit of what you’re getting into. Overall it seems like a pretty solid, if simple, workout app.