A strong peloton competitor for less money


Apple’s subscription fitness app Fitness + will launch on Monday. I’ve been using it for a few days now and I think it has a nice range of workouts that people will enjoy. You will need an Apple Watch to take the recorded exercise classes available on iPhones, iPads, and Apple TV.

It’s a clever way for Apple to make the Apple Watch even stickier. If people really get into fitness classes like I did, it will be another way Apple keeps people attached to its ecosystem of products. Why buy another phone, tablet, or watch when you can Really like fitness +? There also comes a great time when people are out of the gym looking for exercise opportunities at home.

As with other fitness apps, including Pelotons, which start at $ 12.99 per month for classes that don’t require the company’s attached spin bike, you don’t need anything to use it. But you’ll have more of this if you have an indoor bike, treadmill, rowing machine, or free weights, as some of the classes require equipment. But you don’t need anything special. For example, I rode a hand me down exercise bike.

Fitness + is $ 9.99 per month or $ 79.99 per year. It’s also part of the Premier Apple One plan, which costs $ 29.95 per month and includes other Apple products like Apple Music, Apple TV +, and additional iCloud storage at a discount.

This is what Apple Fitness + looks like.

What I like

I started taking my health a lot more seriously a few months ago and I’ve lost a few things. Much of this was due to diet, but I was also addicted to Peloton’s iPad app, which I use on a regular indoor bike rather than a real Peloton and which like Fitness + offers a variety of non-cycling workouts.

The peloton instructors are really encouraging. (Call Alex Toussaint, Emma Lovewell, and Kendall Toole.) So I was worried that I wouldn’t find this type of coaching in Fitness +. If the coaches weren’t good I would go back to Peloton.

After completing about eight bike classes on Fitness +, I started getting used to and enjoying the various Apple Fitness + instructors. My favorites so far have been bike instructors Emily Fayette, Bakari Williams and Tyrell Desean, but I haven’t attended a class for different workouts with all 21 instructors. There is a wide choice of courses such as high-intensity interval training (HIIT), spin, yoga, treadmill, rowing, strength, and dance.

I love that Fitness + syncs seamlessly with Apple Watch. You simply select the workout you want and then click start. Your heart rate, elapsed time (or time remaining, if you prefer), and your Apple Watch fitness rings (red for calories, green for exercise minutes, and blue for standing minutes) will all appear on the screen and close as you continue exercising. Every Apple Watch owner knows how addicting it can be to try to close all of your rings every day, and I love that the app shows this right on the screen to encourage me to close mine.

You can stream or download workouts to your iPad, iPhone, or Apple TV when you don’t have an internet connection. I preferred to ride an iPad, but loved that I could come upstairs and take a cooldown or brief yoga class while watching on the Apple TV. As long as you have an Apple Watch and subscribe to Fitness +, you can work out too any Apple TV with Fitness + installed. So if you’re staying in a hotel with, or likely to be an Airbnb hotel, your watch will show up nearby and you can take classes even if the owner of the Apple TV isn’t paying for Fitness +. This will be fun when we can all travel again.

It’s also easy to find classes on the Apple TV, iPad, or iPhone. The app recommends courses based on your previous workouts (including in any App that stores data in Apple Health (like Peloton). You can filter by time (10 minutes to 45 minutes), by instructor, by exercise or by type of music. And I love that you can save music automatically or play it in the Apple Music app. However, you don’t have to be an Apple Music subscriber to listen to songs in Fitness +.

The workouts are great. The 45 minute bike rides definitely made me sweat and showed that I burned around 450 to 500 calories, roughly what I get from the Peloton app in the same amount of time. I’m not a great yoga guy, but I liked the 10 minute intro class and plan to take some of the longer ones. I really have to work on my flexibility. A 10-minute strength class that I crept into after a bike ride really trained my thighs. There’s already a lot to choose from, and more classes are added every Monday. You will find enough to do.

Finally, and perhaps the most important part, Apple Fitness is great at promoting all fitness levels. During each workout, there are additional instructors who point out recommended tweaks or changes you might make if you are not in perfect shape like the trainers. In cycling training I was encouraged to push myself but not set a specific level of resistance or cadence, which I liked better than on Peloton, where for the first time I felt like I wasn’t training as hard when I couldn’t keep it up harder resistance levels. Speaking of inclusion: Classes begin and end with sign language for people who are hard of hearing. Nice gesture.

What I would like to see

There are a few more things I prefer about the Peloton app. Apple’s Fitness + Instructors are great, but I want to learn more about them and their individual personalities.

I like that peloton instructor Alex Toussaint acts as a kind of drill sergeant instructor. No excuses for not doing your best. This even extends into music. You hear an explicit language in Peloton. (Even the instructors occasionally swear.) You don’t get that in Fitness +. Maybe it’s weird, but I’m not that quick to work on a hip-hop playlist that lacks the swear words.

And I like that peloton instructors talk more about their lives and experiences. Pelotons Emma Lovewell speaks of growing up on Martha’s Vineyard. Her father was a musician. She talks about her new favorite songs with custom workout playlists. How she restores a new home. I don’t know a lot about Fitness + Instructors yet, other than small profiles posted online, but I’ve been told this should get through more and I’m looking forward to more of these.

Peloton also offers live classes, but Fitness + does not. And if you’re not attending the live class, Peloton will still show you who is taking the recorded class at the same time, which is what I like. Fitness + allows you to compete with anyone else who has attended a class through the on-screen “burn bar” and let you know where you stand in the pack. It’s fun in cycling class, but I wish there were more social features that would show me who else was riding in real time or how my friends were on a particular course. Usernames are not displayed (this is by design to protect privacy) and the instructors do not call for milestones such as a 100th drive or workout to be achieved. I love the community feeling in the peloton and themed classes like the holiday and Thanksgiving rides, where the instructors may even dress up or play holiday music. I hope that comes to Fitness + too.

While the Apple Watch comes with a number of digital badges and awards that you can win for workout strips, I wish there were a few devoted to Fitness +. Maybe in a week I will get badges for training with Fitness +. Or a badge for certain vacation workouts, if and when they ever appear.

After all, it’s obvious, but you need Apple devices to use Fitness +. It won’t run on Android or TV boxes like Roku and you must have an Apple Watch. So Peloton is the way to go if you’re looking for an app that can run on different types of TV boxes, tablets, phones, and fitness trackers.

Apple Fitness + final thoughts

Fitness + is excellent. Should you get it through Peloton? Difficult choice.

This is the part of a review I would normally say whether or not you should buy something, but both Fitness + and the Peloton app come with free one-month trials. And anyone who bought a new Apple Watch this year will get a three-month trial. So, really, you should try both and see which one you like better. I’m pretty torn right now.

I love how well Fitness + syncs and works across devices, how well it works with the Apple Watch, and that it’s really inviting for all fitness levels. You finish the Peloton and Fitness + course and feel sweaty and happy.

Given that I was paying over $ 150 a month to run a gym before the pandemic, I will likely continue to use both apps. Apple Fitness + is included on the Premier Family Plan I’m already paying for, and I like being able to switch instructors and workout styles between apps.

The way I see it, I only get more classes if I subscribe to both. That way, I won’t quit the peloton instructors I love so much or miss out on the fun specialty classes and workout strips, and I can keep getting in shape as I continue to explore Fitness +.

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