Around the world, Apple Watch is helping people make life-changing improvements to their health and fitness.
I recently asked Cult of Mac readers to share their experiences getting in shape with Apple Watch, and the response has been amazing. Here are some of the inspiring stories I received — and some great insights into how you can use an Apple Watch to smash your fitness goals.
Apple Watch: More than just a fitness band
Improving their health might not be the main reason Cult of Mac readers purchased their Apple Watches, but the wearable’s fitness features turned out to be highly valued by some.
Jiří Janda: “I am no ultra-athlete or professional sport junkie. I just needed to lose some weight and get in shape.”
Jiří Janda, a 39-year-old teacher from the Czech Republic, lost 30 pounds with the help of his space gray Apple Watch Sport.
When he reached 240 pounds, Janda decided it was time to lose some weight. He bought his Apple Watch hoping it would be useful for his business and family life as well as helping him with his weight-loss goals. He was not disappointed.
Janda had tried all sorts of fitness trackers before discovering Apple Watch, including wearables from Jawbone, Fitbit, Garmin and Polar. But what made the difference with Apple Watch was that it was more than just a fitness gadget.
While Janda is aware that Apple Watch may not be the most accurate fitness tracker, this is not so important to him. What matters is the motivation and day-to-day reminders, together with the way the Apple Watch aggregates all his health data on his iPhone so he can see his progress and adjust his activity accordingly.
He uses a variety of colored straps to help him get in the mood for different activities during the day: a green strap for exercise, a white one for work and a black one for other times. While he recognizes it may just provide a placebo effect, Janda’s results speak for themselves.
Gayla Jennings: “The Workout and Activity apps surprisingly turned out to be the features that interest me the most.”
Gayla Jennings, age 32, an auditor from Vancouver, Washington, has lost 20 pounds in 60 days with the help of her stainless steel Apple Watch.
She previously never had the willpower to stick to an exercise program long enough to see results, describing her weight changes as a roller coaster that kept going up. But with encouragement from her Apple Watch and the improving spring weather in the Pacific Northwest, she got inspired to go jogging.
Noticing a difference in how her clothes fitted, Jennings could tell that she had reached the peak of the roller coaster and was beginning her descent. But she didn’t weigh herself at first. Instead, she focused on tracking her activity and adding variety and frequency to her workouts. She also made changes to her diet that she says were long overdue.
After two months, Jennings could see definition in her shoulder and collarbone. And when she finally weighed herself, she discovered she had lost 20 pounds.
The Watch is not the only Apple gadget Jennings is using to help achieve her fitness goals. She also downloads workout videos on her Apple TV, like Jillian Michaels’ kettlebell workout. The Apple TV makes it easy to regularly buy new workouts and keep things interesting.
Jennings says Apple Watch gives her the encouragement she needs and the data she craves, while the achievement awards provide her with positive reinforcement that puts a smile on her face.
With the peak of the roller coaster far behind her, Jennings is now focused on training for a Thanksgiving 5K run.
Troy Shields: “I’ve never owned a fitness band and wouldn’t consider buying one.”
Troy Shields, a 47-year-old journalist from London has lost 26 pounds in six months using his space gray Apple Watch Sport. He is now much more active now and credits the wearable with changing his life for the better.
Initially, Shields bought his Watch to use for work, so he could quickly check messages when he was out and about. He had never owned a dedicated fitness band, seeing them as something for “fitness freaks.” Health benefits were definitely a secondary consideration.
While Shields says he won’t be taking up running or hitting the gym anytime soon, his Apple Watch has encouraged him to make important tweaks to his lifestyle, like walking more. And this extra activity has had a big impact. Shields is benefiting so much from the results, he says the Apple Watch is never coming off his wrist.
Setting goals and smashing them
While many of our readers did not have a particular fitness goal in mind when they bought their Watch, the Activity app’s suggested goals have helped to set them on track.
Paul Loewen: “I noticed the shift in my mindset. I am now looking for ways to exercise.”
Paul Loewen, a 29-year-old youth pastor from Winnipeg, found an interesting way of motivating himself to hit his goals. A self-confessed electronics fan, he would often pitch gadgets to his wife so he could buy them with her permission. Together they came up with a plan: If he achieved a perfect week in the Activity app, by completing all three rings for seven days, he could add some money to an electronics budget, which he could use to spend on new gizmos.
Each week, Loewen would increase his goal by 50 percent of the suggested amount. So if his Apple Watch suggested a 60-calorie increase, he would add 30 calories to his goal. This continued until he reached a goal of 880 calories per day, which he found was not always achievable. With small kids to take care of, he just didn’t have the time.
Now, he has settled on a 600-calorie goal that is realistic for him — with a bonus goal of 1,000 calories when he can reach it. And his gadget budget is steadily building up.
Using Apple Watch this way has delivered some unexpected benefits. Loewen is now much more conscious of his health, which means he is eating healthier food. He uses the car less and has more energy to get up and chase the kids around.
His advice for using Apple Watch is to set achievable goals and work toward them consistently by integrating activity into your life — like going for family walks.
Monitoring your progress
The Apple ecosystem enables users to easily combine health and fitness data from a variety of sources into a single dashboard, making it easy to keep track of progress.
John Carr: “I am a metrics type of guy. With the Health app I was able to tie my smart scale, workouts and calorie intake into one space.”
John Carr, a 36-year-old systems engineer from Los Angeles, got his Apple Watch soon after it launched. The wearable has helped him lose 26 pounds, reducing his body fat from 25 percent to 18 percent.
No stranger to the fitness industry, Carr had previously worked at Beachbody (creator of the P90X and Insanity home exercise systems). When it came to fitness bands, he had tried them all, including Fitbit, Microsoft Band and Misfit. But before Apple Watch, nothing really motivated him to work out.
A major difference Carr noticed with Apple Watch was the way it breaks down the calories you burn into Active and Total calories, so you can see the impact your exercise is having.
Other fitness trackers he tried just present total calories. So when you see your total, you might think: “Wow I burned 3,000 calories today, its Big Mac time,” when in reality those are the calories you burn just by being alive and breathing (known as your “basal metabolic rate”).
The Workout app’s heart-rate monitor has also proved useful, enabling Carr to try out a variety of cardio workouts and find the one with the most burn for the least boredom — he’s picked spin classes. He’s also started weightlifting again, and he appreciates the Watch’s prompts, which have encouraged him to increase his lifting sessions from 30 minutes to an hour.
As a systems engineer, it is no wonder Carr describes himself as “a metrics type of guy.” His success in cutting body fat is a direct result of the dashboard he uses to monitor his data in the iOS Health app. He has customized it to present all his key stats, including calorie intake, daily weigh-ins synced from his Withings smart scale and workouts from his Apple Watch. Combining all these metrics into a single screen means he can easily monitor his progress at a glance.
Kevin Guzniczak: “Step counting and MyFitnessPal synced with the Health app perfectly.”
Kevin Guzniczak, a 47-year-old mechanical engineer from Grand Rapids, Michigan, used his space gray Apple Watch Sport and iPhone 6 to help him lose 47 pounds in six months.
It was on a trip to visit his daughter in Texas that Guzniczak realized he was not happy with how heavy he had let himself become. At 212 pounds, he was the heaviest he had ever been. The time had come to lose some weight, but he did not want to follow a diet plan where you have to eat special food, because he knew he would not stick to it.
Instead, he came up with his own plan, using MyFitnessPal on his iPhone to help him cut the calories he was eating. He linked MyFitnessPal with the Health app, which was also collecting his active calories and step count. It all synced together perfectly. Apple Watch proved useful for logging activities that his iPhone could not track, like cycling.
Guzniczak did not do any extra exercise, and he continued to eat his normal food (including “pop and pizza”) but in moderation. Over six months, he dropped to a much healthier 165 pounds. He had to replace his entire wardrobe — and is now able to wear a pair of Levis 501 jeans he couldn’t squeeze into for 20 years.
Apple Watch’s gentle reminders
Health and fitness is not just about getting in shape — it’s about staying that way. Apple Watch can help with this, too, by providing ongoing encouragement and reminders to keep you on track.
John O’Brien: “This is the workout partner that never fails to show.”
Thanks to the motivation provided by his Apple Watch Sport, John O’Brien, 54, from Arkansas, has started running after 20 years of inactivity.
Initially, the Activity app set low goals that were easy to achieve and encouraged O’Brien to get started. The increases his Watch suggested each week were steady and gradual, which he believes helped him make progress without getting injured.
After two weeks, O’Brien was able to run a mile without stopping; since then, he has shaved 1.5 minutes off his time. Usually, however, he prefers to go for a brisk 2.5-mile walk.
At first, O’Brien dreaded his workouts, but now he looks forward to them every day. He loves the motivation that his Apple Watch provides him, including the reminders to stand up every hour — and the gentle prodding when he needs inspiration and a push to get started.
Apple’s Activity app is changing people’s lives
Based upon the response we have received, it seems that weight loss is the most popular fitness goal for Cult of Mac readers, and Apple Watch is helping with this in ways dedicated fitness trackers do not. While the Workout app is not used by everyone, the Activity app is proving to be essential. With its goal-setting, motivational prompts and constant feedback via brightly colored rings, the Activity app turns out to be the secret ingredient that sets Apple Watch apart from other fitness wearables.
I’d like to thank all the readers who shared their fitness stories with us. Your achievements are amazing and I believe they will inspire many others to achieve similar results using Apple Watch. If you would like to share your fitness story, drop me a line. And if you’d like to get more involved with the Cult of Mac fitness community, why not join our club on Strava?