Get fit with Apple Watch and nail your New Year’s resolution

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How to get in shape with Apple Watch in 2019
How to get in shape with Apple Watch in 2019
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

If your New Year’s resolution is to get fit with Apple Watch in 2019, maybe I can help. I know from personal experience that it’s never too late to get in shape.

I’m a middle-aged guy, and up until a few years ago, I lived a very unhealthy lifestyle. I never exercised, I only ate junk food, and I was seriously overweight. Today, I have a six-pack, I run seven miles a day, and I even write about fitness for Cult of Mac.

The secret to my transformation is something I call “The Ratchet.” It’s a way of running that makes it so easy to get started that pretty much anyone who can walk can do it. All you need is your Apple Watch and a pair of running shoes.

So if you’re thinking about New Year’s resolutions for 2019, why not give The Ratchet a try? Here’s how.

How to start swimming with Apple Watch

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Apple Watch Series 4 loves getting wet
Apple Watch Series 4 loves getting wet.
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

While many of us learn to swim at school, plenty of people never return to the pool as an adult. If that sounds familiar, but your shiny new Apple Watch Series 4 is tempting you to dip your toe in the water again, this guide to swimming with Apple Watch is for you.

We’ll take a look at what equipment you’ll need, how to use your watch for swimming, how to structure your workouts for maximum fitness gains, and how to track your progress in Apple’s Activity app.

Let’s dive in and start swimming with Apple Watch.

How to sync your Apple workouts to Strava automatically

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Sync Apple Workout app with Strava to get the best of both worlds.
Using Apple's Workout app with Strava gives you the best of both worlds.
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

Your shiny new Apple Watch is great for logging workouts. But it comes up short when you want to review your training progress and share your workout history with friends. Everything gets bundled in the Activity and Health apps on your iPhone, which are pretty basic.

That’s where third-party apps like Strava come in. Strava offers all the essential fitness analytics that Apple overlooks. The trouble is, Strava’s watch app sucks for logging workouts.

If only you could have the best of both worlds: logging your workouts with Apple’s excellent built-in Workout app, then syncing the data automatically to Strava. Well, thanks to a brilliant indie app called HealthFit, you can.

iOS 12 accidentally removes select Apple Watch Activity badges

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Activity badges for Apple Watch challenges
iOS 12's collection of "limited edition" Activity challenge badges is missing a few awards.
Screenshot: Ian Fuchs/Cult of Mac

With the release of iOS 12 earlier this week, Apple made broad sweeping improvements to the OS. Unfortunately, the update also came with a small bug for fitness zealots sporting a cabinet full of limited edition Activity challenge badges. If that just described your Apple Watch badge collection, you can cool your cycling shorts, everything will be ok.

Apple Watch Move ring vs. Exercise ring: What’s the difference?

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Don't get your Move and Exercise rings mixed up
Don't get your Move and Exercise rings mixed up
Image: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

Closing your Apple Watch Activity Rings can become such an obsession that it’s easy to forget why you’re doing it. It’s not just to keep Tim Cook happy in his giant, ring-shaped office in Cupertino. So, what does it really mean to close a ring?

The Stand goal is obvious. We all know we shouldn’t sit around on our asses all day. But how about the Move and Exercise rings? Aren’t they kind of the same thing? Actually, no. They’re very different, and understanding that difference is massively important if you want to achieve your fitness goals.

Go the extra mile with Nike+ Run Club [50 Essential iOS Apps #23]

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Nike+ Run Club app run tracking
Nike+ Run Club offers detailed run tracking whether you're new to running or an experienced marathon runner.
Photo: Ian Fuchs/Cult of Mac

50 Essential iOS Apps: Nike+ Run ClubRunning is a great form of exercise, regardless of your fitness level. Getting motivated to run is a different story. Some running apps are designed for run tracking, others offer training, or make exercise a game. Nike+ Run Club blends all three to get you started and keep you moving, from your first run to your thousandth mile, and beyond.

Strength is the missing Activity Ring. Here’s how you can close it.

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Strength training is currently Apple’s weakness
Strength training is currently Apple’s weakness
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

The Activity Rings on your Apple Watch don’t provide a complete picture of your fitness. There is one important ring missing: Strength. The Rock didn’t get ripped just by standing up once an hour. And both the Exercise and Move rings essentially measure the same thing: cardio.

As any fitness expert will tell you, an effective workout program should combine cardio with strength training. Here’s why strength is currently Apple Watch’s weakness, and how you can use third-party apps to make sure it isn’t yours as well.

This hidden Apple Watch feature tells you if your workouts are doing any good

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It’s not about how far you run, it’s how fast you recover. Apple Watch heart rate recovery data gives you the facts.
It’s not about how far you run, it's about how fast you recover.
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

It’s all very well to know how far you ran, cycled and swam. But the whole point of exercise is not just to clock the miles. It’s supposed to make you more fit. So, how do you know if all those sweaty miles are actually doing any good? One way is by measuring your heart rate recovery time.

Fortunately, watchOS 4 provides a reliable way to see this data, and thus monitor changes in your fitness level. Here’s how you can use Apple Watch to keep your workout goals on track.

How to set up Apple’s Health app to unlock its awesome fitness potential

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Turn the iPhone Health app into a dashboard for your body
Turn the iPhone Health app into a dashboard for your body
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

If you think the Health app is just another pointless junk app that comes preinstalled on your iPhone, think again. Unlike Stocks, Compass or Tips, it is one of the few apps that Apple won’t let you delete. Set up the Apple Health app properly, and it becomes a powerful tool for getting (or staying) fit.

You see, the Health app lies at the heart of Cupertino’s growing health and fitness ambitions. And with its underlying HealthKit API, the Health app provides the framework that Apple Watch uses to gather data on your daily activity, heart rate and workouts.

But the Health app is more than just a place for storing data. With every iOS update, Apple makes major improvements to it. So, if you still think the Health app is a waste of space, it’s probably time you gave it another look. Especially if you own an Apple Watch. You’ll find it contains loads of useful, well-presented data that can help you achieve your fitness goals.