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Apple Fitness+ review: ‘Short of getting a trainer, it’s good at getting me to push myself’

Paying $ 14.99 a month for training videos when you can find them for free on YouTube may seem expensive, but Josh Taylor finds some perks

I abandoned my insignificant selection of panic-bought gym equipment and hurriedly patched training videos from my local gym fairly quickly throughout the Melbourne blocks in 2020. But there was one thing that kept me going: closing my rings.

With the launch of Apple Fitness +, a workout video streaming service that costs A $ 14.99 a month, Apple is definitely aimed at iPhone users who were stuck at home during on-going locks around the world .

To close my rings – which sounds more like an abstinence term – during the block, I made sure to do all the set amount of exercises and movements per day on my Apple Watch. It helped me feel like I had achieved something, while making the most of the time I could get out of the house.

Fitness + takes the mantra “close your rings” a step further. Now it’s not just about the app on your watch chasing you daily to do at least half an hour of exercise, stay at least once an hour for 12 hours and burn a user-defined set of kilojoules a day. It is about providing training videos fully integrated with the watch app to achieve this.

Fitness + is suitable for people who are already deeply embedded in the Apple ecosystem. You will need an iPhone or iPad that runs iOS 14.3 and an Apple Watch that runs WatchOS 7.2. If you want to watch on your TV, you’ll also need an Apple TV, as unfortunately there’s no Chromecast support yet. Buying all of this technology at once would cost about $ 2,000.

Then, there is the signature itself. This $ 14.99 a month gives you access to a wide range of training videos, from running to cycling and rowing, to HIIT classes, yoga and basic exercises. They range from about 10 to 45 minutes and can be watched on a phone, iPad or Apple TV.

While you exercise, it uses the heart monitor and other clock tracking tools to track your efforts. Your heart rate, stopwatch, kilojoules burned and how you are tracking your rings are displayed on the screen as you go. There is also a “burning bar” for competitive motivation, where you can see how you are comparing with other people who have done the same workout.

Each video is paired with an Apple Music playlist and coaches often refer to songs during training, making it feel much more integrated than background music. In some parts, coaches pressure you to work faster or faster based on the beat of the song.

Group gym classes always seem like a cult to me, and considering it’s Apple – the company where employees in stores collectively applaud new iPhone buyers on launch day – the fact that this vibe is also found in the videos of training is no big surprise.

The coaches are very Apple. Big smiles, very energetic, very excited to be there.

Initially, I would try to make an alternate daily comparison between free YouTube exercise videos and Apple Fitness + exercises for a week, but I found it difficult to find exercises I liked on YouTube.

Watching videos on YouTube has made it easier to give up halfway when a coach proposes a ridiculously complex move that is not designed for a tall person in a small apartment, or when for some reason he gives up a break between sets.

I also realized that doing both would be an impractical number of exercises in a short amount of time, unless I never wanted to be able to move again.

Fitness + is a better browsing experience. It offers a wide variety of options and difficulty levels, allowing you to start with the basics and then work your way up. The app will recommend exercises similar to those you have done in the past, as well as those that you may be interested in trying out.

In the setup, I initially had difficulty pairing the app with my watch, a major problem that required several attempts and reboots to resolve. Since then, it has always worked.

At home, in the living room of my apartment, with my gym mat, an Apple TV, a bottle of water and a cat that would not leave me alone, I tried some different HIIT workouts, between 10 and 20 minutes.

I sweated and felt like I had a good workout after both. The exercises were simple and had backup coaches on the videos, offering options a little easier to do if you were new or unable to complete the workout.

My favorite exercises, however, were the cycling classes, which I did at my gym on their stationary bikes. My favorite coach is Kym Perfetto, a former Soulcycle instructor with pink energy and her own YouTube channel, who also appeared on Amazing Race.

In these videos, you’re under pressure to keep your heart rate high and keep intervals. I loved the way Kym incorporated music into training (animated hymns and electro pop hits – definitely for my taste) and told stories from his own life. It was the closest feeling to a group gym class that didn’t really involve attending one.

The file is large enough and expands fast enough that you never have to do the same workout twice, but if you find a favorite workout or trainer, you’ll have enough to work with.

At the end of each workout, the trainer ends with a mantra – the same one I assumed during the block: close your rings.

But is it worth it?

The first month of Fitness + is free for everyone, and you get three months free if you buy an Apple watch ($ 599 for the latest model). The $ 14.99 per month fee is a bit exaggerated, especially if you’re already paying for a gym, but it’s a good starting point for people who want to work out for gym classes, or just prefer to work out. your own.

Although most workouts don’t require much in terms of equipment, if you don’t have an exercise bike, treadmill or paddle, you will need to go to the gym (an additional monthly charge) or limit yourself to other workouts.

If you don’t already have an Apple Watch, buying one to use Fitness + costs about the same as eight sessions with a personal trainer. Although a trainer would likely lead to more immediate results, the watch and an ongoing subscription to the app have more longevity, and your reminders may prompt you to use your gym more, if you are already paying for one.

Am I going to keep this?

Perhaps. Since the Melbourne blockade ended, I have been trying to get rid of Covid’s pounds, but, as with all gymnastics routines, I sometimes find it difficult to motivate myself. With the exception of a personal trainer, Fitness + is at least good at making me push myself during aerobic exercise, instead of relaxing while listening to podcasts, so I will probably continue cycling with Kym.

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