Apple Fitness+ adds SharePlay for motivation and ‘smack talk’

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SharePlay makes Apple Fitness+ workouts more personal by letting you communicate with friends in real time.
SharePlay makes Apple Fitness+ workouts more personal by letting you communicate with friends in real time.
Photo: Apple

Apple Fitness+ added group workouts and meditation sessions Monday, letting users communicate in real time with up to 32 other people. The new capability taps FaceTime’s new SharePlay feature, which works on iOS devices now and comes to macOS Monterey later this fall.

“It’s a really fun way to connect with friends and family, even trade some words of encouragement or friendly smack talk, while also making progress toward closing their rings,” said Jay Blahnik, Apple’s vice president of fitness technologies, in a press release.

New features for Apple Fitness+

Centered on Apple Watch’s real-time biosensors, Fitness+ serves up prerecorded workouts in more than a dozen categories. A team of upbeat trainers leads sessions for beginners as well as experienced gym rats. The subscription service provides real-time feedback to users during workouts, showing heart rate, calories burned and progress toward closing Apple Watch’s Move, Exercise and Stand rings.

Like the Fitness+ Burn Bar, the new SharePlay implementation is designed to motivate users during workouts. Apple says SharePlay sessions will “stream completely in sync for every participant.”

Apple Fitness+ workouts range from five to 45 minutes long. And a variety of musical styles keep the sessions pumping. Workouts come in these categories: high-intensity interval training (HIIT), strength, yoga, dance, core, cycling, pilates, meditation, treadmill (for running and walking), rowing and what Apple calls “mindful cooldown.”

How SharePlay works with Fitness+

Fitness+ launched late last year, when many gyms remained closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Users can participate in the service’s studio-style workouts from the comfort of their own homes. That’s convenient, but certainly not as social as going to a yoga studio or a gym.

Adding real-time communication with other participants could go a long way toward alleviating that sense of isolation. Apple laid out exactly how SharePlay will let Fitness+ users engage in long-distance group workouts.

“Fitness+ subscribers can use SharePlay to start a group workout or meditation with up to 32 of their friends and family while using FaceTime on an iPhone or iPad, and the selected Fitness+ session will stream completely in sync for every participant. Once on a FaceTime call, users will navigate to the Fitness app, select a workout or meditation, see their friends and family onscreen, and get started. SharePlay also works with Apple TV so users can follow the workout on a big screen while staying connected with friends on FaceTime using their iPhone or iPad. When working out in a group through SharePlay, users will see their metrics and progress toward closing their Activity rings, while also seeing and hearing friends. During a workout, when someone moves ahead on the Burn Bar or closes their Activity rings, everyone working out will be notified so they can celebrate together.”

Apple Fitness+ currently works with Apple Watch, iPhone, iPad and Apple TV. The SharePlay feature will invite Mac users to the streaming workout party — eventually. Apple released macOS Monterey on Monday, but without the SharePlay feature. So this new Apple Fitness+ communication feature won’t work until “later this fall,” Apple said. Monday’s iOS 15.1 update added SharePlay to Apple’s mobile operating system.

New episode of Time to Walk features See actor

A new Time to Walk episode features writer/educator/actor Marilee Talkington.
A new Time to Walk episode features writer/educator/actor Marilee Talkington.
Photo: Apple
Apple also augmented the fitness service’s Time to Walk feature with a new episode Monday. Marilee Talkington, a legally blind writer, educator and actor appeared on the Apple TV+ series See, leads the new guided walking session.
“On this walk, she talks about defying expectations and how she helps empower others to do the same,” Apple said. The company introduced Time to Walk earlier this year to encourage Apple Watch wearers to get up off their duffs.
The Fitness+ audio series features guests like Dolly Parton, Anthony Joshua, Naomi Campbell and Bebe Rexha. And Apple just keeps adding new episodes.

Apple Fitness+ expands into new countries

Fitness+ workouts are in English, with subtitles in Brazilian Portuguese, English, French, German, Italian, Russian and Spanish.
Fitness+ workouts are in English, with subtitles in Brazilian Portuguese, English, French, German, Italian, Russian and Spanish.
Photo: Apple

Apple will make Fitness+ available in 15 new countries starting November 3, 2021, the company said. The service will be available in English, with subtitles in Brazilian Portuguese, English, French, German, Italian, Russian and Spanish.

The service costs $9.99 per month or $79 per year. People who use multiple Apple services can save even more subscribing to an Apple One bundle.

Fitness+ is currently available in the Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States. Apple will bring the service to the following new countries in November: Austria, Brazil, Colombia, France, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Malaysia, Mexico, Portugal, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates.