When Apple Fitness+ first launched, I was eager to try out the service, and since I had bought a new Apple Watch SE, I got to take advantage of an extended three-month trial, since I had bought an Apple Watch SE, and now that free-trial is coming to an end. If you started your three-month trial when Fitness+ first launched back in December, you're likely facing the same situation.
In case you're not sure what Fitness+ is like, I'll give you a quick breakdown. With the best Apple Watch on your wrist, an iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV to use as a screen, and a $9.99 monthly ($79.99 annually) subscription (though it's also available through Apple One's Premiere bundle), Apple Fitness+ aims to provide you with a ton of guided workouts to enjoy. With categories like strength, HIIT, cycling, treadmill, and more, there's a little something for everyone.
My first impressions of Apple Fitness+ were fairly positive, and many issues I had at the launch time have mostly worked themselves out now. Does that mean I think everyone should subscribe to Apple Fitenss+? No. But, it's a great service for many people, especially if you're new to working out from home.
With a good array of different fitness classes, peppy instructors, and wonderful (but compulsory) Apple Watch integration, Apple Fitness+ is an excellent service for a reasonable price if you intend to use it.
Some context for this review
Before you read any further, I want to put several things into context because I think it's important to know how I used Apple Fitness+ so you can better understand the foundation of my review.
- Before using Apple Fitness+, I had never done any video-led workout sessions in my life.
- I used the service fairly consistently over the past few months, but my overall fitness level is pretty average. I typically used the service about twice a week, but I missed a week on a couple of occasions. A strict routine is really my style.
- I don't have a treadmill, rowing machine, indoor bike, or other heavy equipment. In fact, when I started, I didn't even have any dumbells, but I have bought a pair since starting with Fitness+.
- Lastly, because the service is so expansive, and there are many classes I couldn't do, I will not be giving the service a star rating as iMore does in most of its reviews.
Apple Fitness+ Review: The interface
Apple has a history of making user experiences in its app and services fairly straightforward, and I would say that it translates well to Fitness+. It's all baked into the Fitness app, meaning you can access all the content from your iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV with ease.
Right at the top, you can see the workout categories, and by tapping or selecting the category, you're given the chance to browse all the classes related to that category. You can even filter your search of that category by an instructor, length of time, and type of music (see below), making it easy to find something particular if you want to. Of course, much like anything these days, the app does get to know your preferences as you start to use the service more and make suggestions on new classes to try based on your previous workouts.
All in all, the interface itself is straightforward to navigate and has a layout that's pleasing to the eye whether you're using your iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV.
Apple Fitness+ Review: The classes
One thing I have loved about Fitness+ since the beginning is the quality and variety of instructors. Every instructor for every class I have tried has been very inviting, positive, and gives very clear instructions on what you're doing throughout the class. Depending on the type of classes you chose to do, you'll likely have the ability to modify your workout's intensity level if you find a particular section too hard or too easy. Especially for non-machine workouts, they always seem to have three demonstrators showing you the routine at three different intensity levels. As someone new to this type of video-led service when I started my free trial, I found that immensely helpful.
Is there enough content?
This is a question that's a little hard to answer because it depends on who you are. If you only do treadmill workouts, and you hate doing the same class more than once, you'll likely run through all the available classes in a short amount of time. But, if you're interested in a variety of classes and you don't mind repeating a class (I repeated a lot of them), you're more likely find the amount of content pretty satisfactory. Plus, Apple has consistently added new classes to the service since its launch, so the library is only getting bigger.
When I started using Apple Fitness+, I didn't have any equipment whatsoever, and while there are a decent amount of classes that don't require equipment, I do feel like getting a set of dumbells opened up my options a lot. There are a lot more strength-based workouts that require dumbells than ones that don't.
On April 15, 2021, Apple expanded its Fitness+ workout program to include more 'welcoming and inclusive' Fitness+ workouts. This includes workouts for pregnant and older adults, as well as more Yoga, High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), and Strength workouts for beginners.
Apple Fitness+ Review: I hate that you need an Apple Watch
I know complaining about the walled garden approach Apple has to its products and services is beating a dead horse, but I really feel there was a missed opportunity with Fitness+.
While you can choose to start a Fitness+ workout without your Apple Watch on your wrist, you have to have an Apple Watch to sign up for Fitness+. Whether you use it on the iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV, you can't actually get the service without an Apple Watch — that sucks.
You may be thinking that the whole point of Fitness+ is closing your Activity rings and having your metrics displayed on the screen, and to a certain degree, you'd be right. That's a huge draw of what makes the service compelling for many people, but there are people without an Apple Watch who would probably love this service.
I don't see why the service couldn't be available to anyone with a compatible device, and just cut out the bonus of having your Apple Watch metrics display on the screen. As someone who isn't the fittest person and was struggling to find a suitable at-home workout routine this past year, I can attest that Apple Fitness+ was perfect for me. It pains me to say that if you're reading this review and you don't have an Apple Watch, I can't recommend Fitness+ as a service unless you're willing to shell out the money for the smartwatch.
Apple Fitness+ Review: Final Thoughts
Here's the good news; Apple Fitness+ had a pretty great launch and has only really gotten better since. Some minor snafus at the beginning, like not being able to AirPlay Fitness+ workouts, have mostly been patched up, and the service runs as smoothly as any Apple service does.
New content keeps getting adding across all categories (as far as I have been able to tell), and new features like Time to Walk have been included to make the service a bit more robust.
Working out is such a personal thing that I can't necessarily say one way or another if it's a service that most people are going like, love, or hate. If you love the gym's social aspect or lifting a ton of heavy weights, Fitness+ will likely have little to offer you. If you're relatively new to working out or like to do it casually, the $9.99 price tag is pretty easy to swallow, especially since many gyms are more expensive.
I will say that following along with a workout on your iPhone is definitely not a great experience. I often found it hard to put myself in a position where I could clearly see the instructor and have enough room around me to do the motions. For that reason, I'm less likely to recommend Fitness+ to someone who doesn't have an iPad or an Apple TV.
It's one of those services you really need to try for yourself, and the good news is, you can get a free trial to test it out. Whether or not you should subscribe to the service after that free trial is based on how much you enjoy it.
If you really enjoy the service, then you should definitely subscribe. Apple seems intent on keeping Fitness+ stocked with new classes and adding new features as the weeks and months go by — more of what you love is always appreciated. On the flip side, if you're lukewarm or dislike the service as it stands right now, I don't see a point in subscribing when you could likely spend that money on a gym membership or other classes and enjoy the experience more.
Luke Filipowicz has been a writer at iMore, covering Apple for nearly a decade now. He writes a lot about Apple Watch and iPad but covers the iPhone and Mac as well. He often describes himself as an "Apple user on a budget" and firmly believes that great technology can be affordable if you know where to look. Luke also heads up the iMore Show — a weekly podcast focusing on Apple news, rumors, and products but likes to have some fun along the way.
Luke knows he spends more time on Twitter than he probably should, so feel free to follow him or give him a shout on social media @LukeFilipowicz.
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