I turned the house into a gym: my review of Apple Fitness +


A year and a half ago, in the midst of the first confinement, we tried to take stock of the phenomenon of online fitness: sports halls had closed their doors to the public by ministerial decree, and so sports activities had moved inside the home, between compulsive purchases of sports equipment and online courses.

Today the gymnasiums are open again, but if on one side there are those who are eager to get back on their feet, on the other there are many people who have kept their ways developed during the pandemic. This is confirmed by several reports according to which 46% of Italians train from home; on the other hand, the three main trends identified by the ACSM Global Fitness Survey for 2021 are online training, wearable technologies and bodyweight exercises.

To top it off, the wearable market is booming, with Apple retaining the leading position in smartwatches and has just launched Fitness +, the streaming training service in Italy. it is precisely based on these trends.

Whereas in the USA it is a type of proposal already known – I am thinking for example of the video training linked to the Peloton exercise bikes, which were very successful during the confinement – for the Italian market it’s a bit of a novelty, and therefore a bet: here is my clear opinion of a few days of testing.

Already launched in the United States last year, Apple Fitness + landed in Italy – and 15 other countries, bringing the total to 21 – just over a week ago. a service that allows you to keep in shape by following workouts led by a personal trainer on iPhone, iPad and Apple TV.

But what changes compared to the workouts that can already be found on YouTube, some of which also made with the greatest care from the video point of view, which have totaled millions of views in recent months and – above all – are they free?

The first difference is in the experience of the material and the ecosystem: we can say without hesitation that Fitness + is entirely built around the Apple Watch (HERE our test of the latest model), to such an extent that without the latter it is not possible to access the service. Integration with the smartwatch is essential because it allows you to view your values ​​(heart rate, calories burned, elapsed time and activity ring) directly on the screen where you follow the guided training.

Another difference concerns the personalization of the service in the sense that, compared to going for any workout video on YouTube hoping to intercept one that suits your needs, Fitness + has for its part the fact that the Apple Watch is on the wrist of the user all day or so. And therefore, it has other tools to suggest a workout, also based on our sedentary standard of living or on the exercises performed during the week; for example, if we have done a lot of cardio sessions, he may offer yoga.

The activities are quite varied, including HIIT, strengthening, yoga, dancing, core training, cycling, Pilates, meditation, walking, treadmill, rowing, cool down and preski organized by Olympic gold medalist Ted Ligety. The training sessions are held in English, with subtitles in French, English, Italian, Brazilian Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and German, and there are also sign language parts to make it more inclusive.

All this is enclosed, according to the Apple tradition, in a very precise framework and in an intuitive system for the user. The strengths are undoubtedly the integrated system and the care engaged by creating and updating it; the disadvantage is represented by the price of his Apple-centric, because to access the service you need a series of devices that are not always cheap: at least a third generation Apple Watch or higher and an iPhone 6S or higher with iOS 14.3 (or an iPad with at less iPadOS 14.3, or an Apple TV 4K or HD with tvOS 14.3).

One of the aspects that I liked the most is the integration with the Apple Watch, which also ends up being motivating: for example, during some particularly intense exercises, a burn bar also appears which indicates how hard you are working compared to other users who have done the same workout, which in the good conditions can push you to give your maximum. Also great is the ability to share synced workouts with friends and family via FaceTime with SharePlay mode.

Another point in favor is the care in the creation of the content: Personal trainers are of all ages, and three of them participate in each workout to show variations of the exercises to make them accessible to users with a different level of athletic preparation.

Everything happens to the sound of the music and there is a certain care in the selection of playlists (which, however, cannot be personalized but only exported to Apple Music for those who have a subscription to this service); there are also training sessions all dedicated to a single artist or the same period, I particularly appreciated the selection back in the past where I found some memorable hits.

Images are in 4K and look their best when viewed through an Apple TV 4K, although most people probably end up following them on mobile devices like the iPhone or iPad. The platform is also well designed, intuitive, easy to use and rich in content: workouts can be filtered by type, trainer, duration and music. Proposal Time to walk it was a nice surprise: it takes you for a walk in the company of a famous person who also shares music and photos with you directly on the screen of the smartwatch; So far I have walked with Naomi Campbell and Jane Fonda.

In fgeneral I appreciated the possibility of customization and it seemed to me that the Apple ecosystem points towards a “holistic” vision of personal well-being: for example, the mindfulness function every morning and every evening offers to take stock of the day; not only the physical form, therefore, but also the quality of sleep and introspection. In short, a little lifestyle program which sells not so much a notification as a lifestyle: how much it manages to affect everyone is subjective, and depends on individual predisposition.

My main doubt concerns solo training safety: Of course, compared to choosing a random video on YouTube, Apple goes further, advising the user on programs for beginners and those that might be more suitable based on training habits, as well as providing simplifications for each exercise.

However, the fact remains that during the execution there is no one to supervise the correct setting of the exercises, as happens in all deferred distance education programs. Having started practicing yoga during confinement first off-line (and therefore unilaterally) and then live on Zoom, with the possibility in this case of being corrected by the teacher, I can say that there is a certain difference between the two practices.

The ideal, in fact, would be to have a minimum of background with a live personal trainer regarding the fitness exercises so that you can then repeat them at home in the most correct way possible.

And in fact, in the United States, Apple also offers a hybrid solution of this type: has partnered with traditional gym chains that have started including the Fitness + service in their subscription package, so that users can also take advantage of this possibility. In Italy, such a solution is not yet available, but it could be the ideal recipe for many fitness enthusiasts.

Finally, the prices: Apple Fitness + is a subscription service, it costs 9.99 euros per month Where 79.99 euros per year; alternatively, it is included in the plan Apple One Premium, which also offers access to Apple Music, Apple TV +, Apple Arcade and iCloud + with 2TB of storage space has € 28.95 per month.

In conclusion, considering the completeness of the package and the alleged addition of new exercises, I find this to be an interesting alternative for those who have chosen to train at home (without prejudice to prudence and the importance of properly adjusting the exercises), or for those who, like me, alternate this type of training with those indoors, because it adds a touch of novelty to domestic sessions by offering engaging and structured exercises.

If you have all the materials you need, giving it a chance doesn’t cost a thing, and indeed I recommend it, as those who buy an Apple Watch Series 3 or later can take advantage of a three-month free trial, while those who already have one can try the service for free for one month. And you ? have you tried it or would you like to try it? What do you think of a future where workouts become more and more interactive and hybrid thanks to technology?


Wiley C. Thompson