This is something you won’t find on the services of Fitbit and Samsung, which also offer workout content in addition to their portable devices. Similar to Fitness +, Fitbit Premium costs $ 10 per month and includes a trainer program with simple exercise videos and guides on nutrition, sleep and meditation. Samsung Health is free and you can play its workouts on Samsung TVs as well, but most content is from third parties. Apple’s fiercest competition may be Peloton, but it’s more expensive at $ 13 per month. Plus, to get similar on-screen measurements, you’ll need to shell out north of $ 2,000 for one of the company’s treadmills or bikes – at this point the monthly fee climbs to $ 40. (The cheapest subscription is for people born own company exercise machines.)
Apple easily outperforms the competition on watch integration, but that alone doesn’t make a fitness service. The quality of the workouts themselves is an important factor to consider. Fitness + has a decent range of activities, including yoga, dancing, core exercise, strength training, high intensity intervals, treadmill running, rowing and indoor cycling, for those who have access to the appropriate machinery. There is also an introductory section for beginners to familiarize them with the basics such as proper form or how to properly set up your rower. The rest of the videos are between five and 45 minutes long, and while you can search by trainer, music, duration, and activity, you can’t filter by difficulty level.
I was surprised when I found myself choosing a video based on the type of music, even in non-dancing workouts. I chose a core session with no preference for a coach and based my decision entirely on having her play upbeat hymns. When you find a workout you like, you can save it to your iPhone, but this option was not available on Apple TV.
Frankly, all of the workouts on Fitness + seem to be aimed at beginners. Apple says on its website that the service “is created for everyone from beginners to experts,” and that all videos offer edits for all skill levels. While I enjoy it in theory, in practice none of the yoga videos were empowering enough. I tried two 45-minute videos and a few shorter options, and found myself missing the most difficult poses and takes from my regular classes.
I also found the dance lessons quite easy, although they did get my heart rate up. The workouts that I found the most difficult were HIIT and the core. Yoga is often perceived to be low intensity and almost relaxing, but it really isn’t. That said, the selection on Fitness + only perpetuates this myth.
Other than that, I don’t have a lot of complaints about the workouts themselves. Every coach I have met was very friendly. Coaches also appear in videos of each other supporting the lead, posing as examples of modification. These cameos are fun – I loved seeing my favorite dance trainer LaShawn in a yoga session, for example. I also thought it was interesting to see an expert in a category appear in videos where he could be more new to it.
The coaches also used American Sign Language (ASL) to accommodate users who might be deaf or hard of hearing. At the end of most of the workouts I have tried, the coaches have signed “thank you”, for example. It’s a good idea, although I think more could be done. In some workouts, like yoga, you may lose sight of the screen in poses like a dog or child pose. These situations prevent people with hearing loss from knowing when to move on or when to get up. Something as simple as a haptic signal on the watch could make Fitness + much more accessible.
Inclusion is important, and with Fitness +, Apple is doing its best to welcome newbies to the world of home exercise. But it could also do better to include intermediate and advanced users. Over time, novice users will improve and quickly find that Fitness + is no longer difficult enough. It’s a pretty straightforward problem to solve, at least – Apple can easily add more videos of greater difficulty over time. The good news is that with its excellent technology, Fitness + has laid the foundation for a satisfying service that can grow with its users.