Jan. 25, 2021

Apple Fitness+ Review

Apple Fitness+ Review

Pros & cons, comparison to other apps, and will we keep using it

We share our thoughts on Apple Fitness+ after three weeks of use.


  • Apple ecosystem
  • Cost
  • Fitness+ vs iFit, Insanity, and Peloton
  • Workout difficulty and variety
  • App UX

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Ryan Purvis  0:00  
Hello and welcome to the digital workspace works podcast. I'm Ryan Purvis, your host supported by producer Heather Bicknell. In this series, you'll hear stories and opinions from experts in the field story from the frontlines, the problems they face and how they solve them. The years they're focused on from technology, people and processes to the approaches they took that will help you to get to the scripts for the digital workspace inner workings. Today,

Heather Bicknell  0:33  
yeah, Apple fitness. Plus, I know, we both been trying it out. So excited to see what you think of it.

Ryan Purvis  0:42  
Well, why don't you go first?

Heather Bicknell  0:45  
Yeah, yeah, I'll go first. And I think a little bit of background might be helpful. So I guess the first thing, obviously, about fitness plus, and probably most people listening to our podcast will know this already. But you, you know us that you need to be locked into Apple's ecosystem, you need an Apple Watch, which means you need an iPhone, and it helps to have an iPad or an Apple TV. Otherwise, you're stuck with your phone, watching workouts, which I am, because even though I have we have an iPad, but it's on, it's related to my partner's Apple account, so I can't use fitness plus on our iPad, unless I, you know, associated it with my Apple ID, which I don't want to do. So I've been using my phone for it, which is kind of a bummer. So that's one negative for me, but um, I guess in general, you know, it's, it's inexpensive. If you have the Apple Watch, if you have the rest of the ecosystem, you know, it's only $10 a month or 80 bucks a year, which is you know, as far as like fitness apps goes is pretty inexpensive for what you get. I love the integrated nature of it just the you know, pressing play femur, watch seeing the rings on the screen. I even like the burn bar wasn't sure how I was going to feel about it. Not sure how accurate it is. But you know, it's just another kind of thing to pay attention to, I guess and motivate you during the workout. But I also I use another app called I fit. I'm not sure if you've

heard of that one.

Yeah, so when I got my rower so I guess another thing is we built like this whole you know, thanks to you know, the pandemic, once again, we built our own home gym. Because you know, who knows. So I have a rower now, which is great. But that came with a free year of I fit. So I've been trying that out. And I feel like overall I think Apple fitness plus is it's a great app, but I feel like the workout side of it. The exercise actually training part of it needs work. But we can get into those details. But I just want to hear your overall impressions. First.

Ryan Purvis  3:01  
It's very similar, funnily enough, so I have for a long time, probably, probably six years now use some sort of mobile app to maintain my train. And what does that mean? So I've used there's an empty there's nothing called results, which I used for a couple years there was another one similar to offsets, which a copy of the name, then there was the Fitbit version, as well, which I signed up for a period of time. So I've been through a few of these. And funnily enough, I ended up with buying the old Beachbody insanity hit worker, someone we were used to work that we're doing every every day. And I decided that actually it's a pretty good routine to do because the steamers and whatever it is that we did last year of it. So when Apple footless plus came out, I thought I'd give it a go Never sort of what I was comparing it against I'll sort of say well, if I'm doing the heat workouts, and also a peloton was the other one that I use for six months, which I'll explain that in a second. So I was comparing Apple fitness class against Beachbody insanity now I've ripped all my DVDs onto mine iPads I went to my bear with me where I can just work out the workout and just do it. I don't even take an activity or anything like that. During lockdown we threw vitality was I helped one of the UK we got six months of peloton free. Then we did a lot of the peloton exercise now, I always always thought that peloton was about the bike, but actually they've been holding on to yoga or like other stuff. So in fairness, if you really want to compare them and probably compare those two together now what I found with the peloton workouts which I found the same with the apple fitness workouts as kind of what you're saying is they're not that to me that are tough enough which I know sounds Maybe arrogant, whatever, but you do them but you don't like if I do Beachbody insanity workout by 20 minutes I'm dying and I'm trying to like just finish this thing. Whereas network it's a kind of finish that will come up but I don't feel like I was challenged like I was and I don't know if that's because there's other information on the screen and that sort of maybe slow me up or speeding me down or whatever it is because when you do Beachbody insanity you can't just do enjoy and speed. We saw that when I was doing the peloton ones I found the same thing. There were days where I don't do we're gonna be like, yeah, okay, this was just a muscle workout really do anything today. That was really tough. And they weren't refreshing the content as much, but at the same sort of gamification stuff. So they have leaderboards in the corner to name while they're doing the workout and all that kind of stuff, which I thought was really cool. You know, I never did the library that's always did the day after work. So from an application point of view, I found that the fitness stuff, but like you, I really liked the integration with Apple products. I mean, the that I can now I think there are nuances, which I think are a bit of a pain, like we've only got one iPad here, which my wife can use, which is mine. If she doesn't doesn't work out, it picks up my watch, not much. Which is irritating, and I have to go and delete the workout. Now, obviously, you should

Heather Bicknell  6:32  
expect that to work. And because the you can, it's a family plan that you can get, you can share with up to five. But if you can't share the device, the screen, maybe Apple TV, you can have all those users and that would be like the perfect way to use it.

Ryan Purvis  6:46  
Well, I think I think this is a problem with iPads for forever fanola. They've never been shareable devices. Like my my old iPad. For many years. My book is actually the one book so I my wife's iPad she's given to my son. So she's Atlas, which I always say, you know, we said if you want one, I'll get you one because, you know, I think they are the right technology for most people in the world. But before we flew out here, she said, No, it's fine. We'll do it. In the New Year. Now she's saying, Oh, geez, I wish I had luck. But I think that is the obvious solution as you go get another device now the iPads and he was I mean, by comparison to other devices, they're not that expensive. They are expensive. But I think you get to return in a reasonable time. But what I find frustrating, what you're saying is that you can't just share the session with a watch. So what is the both of us want to do work?

Heather Bicknell  7:44  
Why don't you just has to do a general set the workout and not sink?

Ryan Purvis  7:49  
Yeah, because because Gerson before she got put before she was barely breathing as a barrier in the sense that she was done six or six months, whatever, was doing the work before and 70s with me, she was doing the modified versions, and you just skipped an exercise. But why why can't you do that with an iPad? Pro, you know whether the big ones are the sort of 12 inch 13 inch, why would you not have to have you do the workout together and have your watches in sync. And maybe it's just a case of a maturity of the device coming. Because the other thing that bugs me it when I was which is why I sort of like the west of my window was between 30 is that I can have the video going on my iPad, but I can listen to podcasts on my phone. While there's while the exercises are going I just wanted to do this stuff. Every time I try and do it with my iPad and the apple fitness keeps trying to steal the headphone connection. So I get the audio and I find the train is pretty irritating. So that's bugging me a bit because it's our 30 seconds of him waffling and I'd like to skip the workout. You know, you're not talking, you know, 30 minutes you wasted 30 seconds of my 30 minutes. But generally, Jenny, I'm impressed. I get bang for buck. I think he's gonna compete with what's out there. But there's a long way to go to mature.

Heather Bicknell  9:12  

I have a lot, a lot of thoughts based on what you just said. But one of my annoyances too is I have I if I could use my Mac my laptop, you know, it would be okay. But it's not one of the devices that you can use fitness plus width. So

Ryan Purvis  9:27  
I didn't know that.

Heather Bicknell  9:27  
Yeah, it's kind of a bummer. But you know, I'm in a divided household, you know, Mac Android, so are you iOS Android. But with our iPad and the rower and I fit, we can both use it. We both have an iPad account, we just you know flip which user is there with an iPad. It also integrates with our rower which has magnetic resistance. So while you're doing the workout, it automatically is changing the resistance for you which is super nice. So I've gotten a little bit into rowing during this period and the other ones are all and I think this relates to Difficulty are all over the place in terms of how they present the sport, and what they tell you to look out for. So rowing, you're typically looking at your cadence, and then your split time. But they don't, there's no mention of they don't have other trainers I've mentioned, like speed versus power in any of these workouts. And when you're rowing, you know, if you're doing slow long poles and putting out a lot of power, that's like really hit your legs. But if you're just kind of like moving back and forth, and the machine hit that speed, you're not getting the same quality and workout, but they haven't explained that. So I think if you're an absolute beginner on rower, you need something else to be able to learn how to use the machine effectively. And I

Ryan Purvis  10:44  
think that's where the peloton bike really was the first one to do to do, as I'm sure there's others are doing now as well. But that ability to, and I'm sure I'll get involved as well, to sort of maintain your workout using algorithms to drive up, if at all, drop it down based on what your biorhythms are saying or what your you know, whatever they're measuring before, is aware of the future because to do 30 minutes of exercise, however long you do, it is the amount that you need to do for your body to to break out of sweat and to start seeing some fat loss, and then muscle build and whatever it is. But if you also can can tune the resistance at the right time. You know, so when you when you're really struggling, it gives you a little bit back. So you push to that last little bit or what makes it even harder, you're going to push a little harder and get over the hump, whatever that is. It might reduce your workouts. But it's doing it in a way that you don't have to control because of the frustration I have. I saw that this morning as well is you search for you got to find the workouts work that's a very dynamic whole navigation is a mess. And you want to try and filter it like like I like a hit workout for 30 minutes. And I was looking for music but then I i because of the internet connectivity stuff where I'm on site and have to download the episode first, which also irritate me. But now only when you're downloading, do you notice that all you need to dumbbells for this one filtering option that says you know, whatever it is, so first of all things that need to fix. And then also when you've downloaded the episode, I think of this right where you download it, you use it once taken off your device. And then you get the next one that was similar. Do you always get that because they're always refreshing these workouts and stuff, which is great because you know they are that are fresh. But and I offered like 67 videos from from fitness plus some iPad, legal menu and weight studies. It's also not obvious, you know, I click somewhere else, click over here to download it. But I'm going to click up here to remove it. And there's no way you're going to select all the little, you know, those little things which for an Apple product, it's actually quite disappointing, because only they think about that kind of stuff. But I saw them on the podcast app as well, they kind of completely forgot about usability then became this messy, and disorganized app. Don't use it anymore. Which is about us too. So

Heather Bicknell  13:15  
yeah, I do a lot of filters. I wish were there. You can't filter. There's no difficulties. I feel like I'm just winging now. But there's no, there's no difficulty filter, which is kind of like, you know, beginner, intermediate and advanced workouts not being able to have that as sort of basic or, you know, an intensity score, or even letting people rate them based on you know, was this a good workout? or How hard was it or estimated calorie burn any of the signs, I think you normally look forward to determine like, how much effort is am I going to have to put in to do this workout just aren't there. Like the titles are descriptive, either, you know, it's hit with so and so trainer. It's not, you know, like, lower body focus, you know, you can't in strength workouts, you can't sort by, you know, I want to target my arms today or my you know, my legs or whatever. But I have a whole core section, which I haven't done any of those yet. Let's see, I've tried I took some notes, um, I've tried the rowing hit strength and then the mindful cooldowns which are fine, you know, it's nice to like, have that integrated into just, you know, kick off a minute of, you know, five minutes of stretching at the end, which I would normally do anyway, but now it's logged as activity which I've noticed that also that gives me an extra like 40 to 50 calorie burn where I think if I hadn't logged it, I wouldn't be getting that exercise and movement.

Ryan Purvis  14:40  
Okay. Now look, I mean, that stuff actually works really nicely. And it does it is appealing for the I suppose if you haven't if you haven't done anything else anywhere else, you wouldn't know what you're missing and I think you're right about the you want to know intensity. So for example, with headphones There's three trainers. And I quite liked one trainer I just like who sort of style but and I know that they're not going to be physically demand physically like isn't building strength that they're more you know aerobic sort of exercises. Now the one thing that I liked about before insanities you got basically two types you got the cardio one so you can do the cardio ones every so often and then you can do devices like a strength and a power which a strength the power ones are really tough like you know doing you know 100 push ups in six minutes in different you know maneuvers and stuff which which really taxes out your body you know if I if I had to do these fitness ones I would be fitter but I don't think I'd get the results that I'd be used to. I think that's where they need to fix the fix it a bit yeah, yeah. I like the younger ones.

Heather Bicknell  15:58  
To try the yoga Yeah, no, I just I don't I'm not really a big yoga to like music fan so I haven't like that side of it doesn't appeal to me. I think Apple does have the advantage from a music perspective but I also don't mind when the work no you said you listen to other stuff anyway during the workouts but I don't really mind when there's no music happening. But I know you'd mentioned reaching out I think another we only have a few more minutes here to wrap this up. I know you'd mentioned reaching out to Apple and a few of these items and you felt like you were seeing changes in the app. Was there anything there that you wanted to comment on?

Ryan Purvis  16:34  
Well so so the first time was meaning that me being stupid so I I expected when I upgraded my iPad to 14 three installed automatically and and it wasn't I used my phone the first time to do your workout and I hated that I really really felt better you know going from an IRA down to phone to workout was really frustrating. But then I wanted something else that I learned about and I do I do learn about this stuff because you know it's one of my important things every day. But I did literally see an update the next day and now we'll fix that do you think that they are taking feedback seriously almost they put it out as good enough not at all as a perfect app. But then at the same token I sort of created them about the download thing where you want to delete and the same button that you just don't and they asked me to log a request on the new feature portal website and the first fit for me so it does feel like it's been rushed out maybe it's been rushed out because all these lockdowns and and then to try and get in the line Yeah, I think it's gonna be working progress for a while and I don't know if you if you're on a one month trial or you got the extra three months because you could you ever watch

Heather Bicknell  17:53  
no I have a series three which is you know ancient and Apple Watch terms now so I got a free month so have a note in my calendar to cancel it on a certain day I'm kind of I haven't decided if I want to wait another month see if they add more content see if they you know if changes happen because one of the really nice things I like about it as well is that you can look back in time and not just see you know, I did a 30 minute strength workout on this day but I can see exactly what work did I did which will be great if I could also track progression and look at other kind of you know get some other signals as well because then you could see how your training improved

Ryan Purvis  18:29  
that was about it was it wasn't very easy to see that you don't work out and then the next day was an update and it was a little tick in the bottom right hand corner that appeared that was one that was the one thing because you know as you say you go through these exercises now you like to do this one yesterday. I can't remember I really didn't like this one. And it was anyway new as I started to get I was like on are really hard to handle this guy. No. Let me go back and find another workout. Yeah,

Unknown Speaker  18:55  
what about you? Did

Heather Bicknell  18:56  
you do month to month? Did you get three months? Because you have a six?

Ryan Purvis  19:00  
Yeah. So when I saw when I did the initial one month, summer the Lord asked me Do you want to when I when I was at my watch for some reason my phone wouldn't Connect. That connection started with my iPad. And then when I got into work with the watch on the phone, they asked me Do you want to extend the extra three months you get with your watch? So in theory over four months of of using it

Heather Bicknell  19:47  
as a place as any Thursday. Yeah, talk to you then Ryan.

Ryan Purvis  20:02  
Thank you for listening today's episode and the big news app producer editor. Thank you, Heather. for your hard work on this episode. Please subscribe to the series and rate us on iTunes or the Google Play Store. Follow us on Twitter at the DW w podcast. The show notes and transcripts will be available on the website www digital workspace that works. Please also visit our website www dot digital workspace that works and subscribe to our newsletter. And lastly, if you found this episode useful, please share with your friends and colleagues.

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