With Apple Fitness+ launching today, early reviews praise its excellent form [Updated]

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Apple Watch is key to the new Apple Fitness+ subscription service.
Apple Watch is key to the new Apple Fitness+ subscription service.
Photo: Apple

With Apple Fitness+ set to launch Monday, a handful of early reviews say the subscription service is a winner that makes fitness fun.

If you’ve got an Apple Watch and access to gym equipment in your home, it’s practically a no-brainer at $9.99 a month. Could this be a Peloton beater?

Apple Fitness+ reviews

Apple Fitness+ requires an “Apple Watch Series 3 or later paired with iPhone 6s or later, or iPhone SE, with watchOS 7.2 and iOS 14.3,” according to Apple. Those two operating system updates should land this morning to facilitate the Fitness+ launch. (Update: The watchOS 7.2 and iOS 14.3 updates are live, and so is Apple Fitness+.)

Apple Fitness+ launches with 10 workout types. These include:

  • High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
  • Strength
  • Yoga
  • Dance
  • Core
  • Cycling
  • Treadmill (for running and walking)
  • Rowing
  • and Mindful Cooldown

The sessions are led by an elite team of fitness experts we profiled here. The workouts, like those offered by Peloton, are video-based sessions that users can tune into. It’s like being at a fitness class but without, you know, being at a fitness class.

Once you’ve updated your devices, you can take advantage of a free Apple Fitness+ trial. Here’s what you can expect, according to people who got early access to the service.

Apple’s next great subscription service?

CNET notes that one of the things that makes Apple Fitness+ great is how tightly integrated it is with Apple Watch. “What sets it apart from similar fitness apps like Nike Training Club or the 7 Minute Workout is its close integration” with the Apple Watch, the publication says.

Fitness+ uses your previous workout data from Apple Watch or other fitness apps that sync to the Health app. This info then guides your workouts. CNET continues:

“Fitness Plus is a no-brainer if you already own an Apple Watch, or are considering getting one, as you get a free three-month trial…Fitness Plus won’t make me ditch my Pilates studio anytime soon (once I can go in person), but I’d definitely consider it as a complement to my current routine. Sub in a fun dance session when the weather’s too bad for a run, or squeeze in a 10-minute core workout after putting the kids to bed. It’s a welcome changeup to my old running and Pilates routine, with different workout types and no-excuse options to get moving whenever or wherever I can.”

Inputmag, meanwhile, says:

“Many Apple Fitness+ workouts later, I am hooked. It’s not just that Apple’s hired a bunch of attractive and fit trainers draped in immaculate Nike activewear to coach you through various workouts (there’s no shortage of those on YouTube), but that the fitness routines and the coaching are actually fun. … I stopped thinking of fitness as something to keep me sane, but as an enjoyable distraction from the bleakness of the world right now. Alright Apple, you got me. Take my money. It’s yours.”

CNBC gives a concise summary in its headline: “Apple’s new Peloton competitor is cheaper and just as good.”

Great online fitness classes for beginners

Several reviewers praised the Apple Fitness+ platform as a great resource for beginners. Women’s Health called it “an easy and effective way to get moving for beginner and advanced exercisers alike.” The publication also praised it as “a particularly good value for those who are already part of the Apple ecosystem”:

AF+ includes an “Absolute Beginner” library with introductory classes hosted by one instructor who is laser-focused on demystifying a modality for newbies. For indoor cycling and rowing, there are “Getting Started” videos that show you how to set up equipment and lock into proper form….

The production value is high. All workouts are filmed at an Apple studio in Los Angeles, with sweet lighting and angles that change up for different modalities. Backdrops include a wood-paneled set (which reminds me a lot of the zen vibes at their Cupertino campus) and a cool-and-gritty exposed brick wall, plus others.

Nearly all of the early Apple Fitness+ reviews applauded the breadth and inclusivity of the new service. For example, Runner’s World wrote: “With over 200 on-demand options, a diverse cast of trainers, and a wide variety of music as motivation, there’s something here for everyone.”

How is it for bicyclists?

Bicycling called Apple Fitness+ “one of the most uplifting and approachable ways to work out at home.” As you might imagine, the publication focused on indoor cycling. But it also compared Apple’s canned workouts to competitors that offer live sessions:

Having tested many live-streamed workouts, there is a level of unpredictability that makes them both flawed and entertaining—and thus engaging. In comparison, the Apple workouts feel choreographed, rehearsed, and then polished to perfection. Whether one is better depends on your personal preference, but the Fitness+ workouts remind me of a more colorful, cheerful version of what you’d find on the Nike Training Club app rather than what you find on say, Peloton Digital.

For us cyclists, the indoor cycling workouts are best for those who are already used to and enjoy a studio-cycling experience (think: fun music and a trainer as your hype-person). If that’s not for you or if you’re looking for race-specific programming, there are other apps and programs for that, but I think dedicated outdoor cyclists will find the most benefit from the cross-training options, specifically core workouts, strength, HIIT, and yoga.

Apple Fitness+ is ready to whip you into shape

Apple Fitness+ costs $9.99 per month or $79.99 a year. You can get a further reduction with an Apple One subscription, although you’ll need to sign up for the top tier. The Apple One Premier plan bundles Apple Fitness+ with Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, Apple News+ and 2TB of iCloud storage. The bundle costs $29.95 per month.

So far, Apple’s subscription apps have been a mixed bag in terms of success. Apple TV+ and Apple Music are far and away the big winners. Apple Arcade and Apple News+, on the other hand, have yet to set the world on fire. We’ll have to wait to see which camp Fitness+ lands in. However, given the success of Peloton, and judging by these early reviews, it seems like Apple could be onto a winner.

Are you planning to try out Apple Fitness+? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.