Review: Apple Fitness+

Late last year, Apple gave you another reason to buy an Apple Watch. Seeing as it’s geared towards health and fitness, it made sense for Apple to come out with Apple Fitness+ so that you could fully leverage your new Apple Watch. It’s available for $9.99 USD a month for up to five family members, though you can take advantage of a free month trial if you already some Apple gear. Or you can get a three month trial like I did if you get a new Apple Watch like my Series 6. As long as you bought it after September 15th. The question is if it is worth what Apple is charging for it. It is… But it has one fatal flaw that I will get to later. Right now my wife is going to assist me in doing this review. Why? Besides spending way more time on Apple Fitness+ than I have, she’s also a level one CrossFit Instructor. So she’s way more qualified than I to talk about a fitness app than I. Here are her thoughts:

Apple Fitness+ launched back in Dec 2020 just in time for the holidays and almost immediately I had friends sending me IM messages about how they were using it everyday as it was available 1 month free to all current Apple watch users from 3 series onwards. Brilliant thing #1 of Apple to just make it easy for me to try as long as I have an Apple watch and an iPhone.  

I didn’t immediately jump on it as I had been paying my trainer to send me a customized program where he had assessed by mobility, inventoried the workout equipment that I had at home and designed my personal program to meet my training goals taking into account any injuries you may have. This was sent to me weekly via the app TrueCoach and had a videos demonstrating each movement in the workout and a messaging feature where I could connect to my trainer. I also had opportunities offered for live classes via Zoom and while I like the live human interaction it may not have worked for my schedule or honestly speaking no one needs to see me working out on Zoom. 

And finally Mr. IT Nerd and I have a sweet smart trainer / Zwift set up taking up a 1/3 of our living room/dining room space so I didn’t think we would need or have space for any other exercise format in our lives.  

But we thought why not give it a try?  

I picked a dance class as the first Fitness+ class to try as I miss the energy of those drop in classes during these lockdown days. LaShawn was energetic and delivered a fun class that build up dance combos slowly and worked for different types of music.  Brilliant thing #2! It’s so easy to get going. The first thing you notice is there is no app to download, no login to remember all you have to do is click on your activity rings and Fitness+ is there ready for you to use. During the class LaShawn will tell you every song in the class plus if you want to bring it up days or weeks later you can. You will also see where you are at in terms of closing your exercise and move rings that day.  For some workouts you can see your Burn Bar where you can see how you stack up compared to anyone else who had done that workout. And for one move I was an overachiever you get a special note during the workout. 

Apple Fitness+ has designed these workouts for you to filter by class time (5 min, 10 min, 20 min, 30 or 45 min), by 9 types of workout offered HIIT, Yoga, Core, Strength, Treadmill, Cycling, Rowing, Dance and Mindful Cooldown, by one of their 21 instructors.  

I found myself using the Apple Fitness+ differently from all my other online options. If I had time between my Zoom meetings I would squeeze in a 10 min or 20 min Fitness+. I compare this to the time it took for me to complete my personalized workouts varied from 35 min to 1 hr pending on the programming done for those workouts, which meant I needed to carve out time before the start of my day.  

The biggest dealbreaker for Mr IT Nerd and I is how Apple Fitness+ does not work via AirPlay. I will let him into all that with you in the rest of this article.

So this brings me to the fatal flaw. The only way you can bring an Apple Fitness+ session to a TV set is to have an Apple TV that has tvOS 14.3 or higher on it. Even though I have an TCL TV with AirPlay functionality, it will not work with Fitness+. What you get if you try to use AirPlay with Apple Fitness+ you get audio, but no video. Which means that unless you have a TV with an Apple TV attached to it, you are forced into watching the videos from your iPhone or iPad. Which if you are on the wrong side of 40, is going to be a huge problem as your vision takes a nosedive after 40, which makes using AirPlay to get it onto a TV with AirPlay functionality valuable. But as it stands, without this functionality, this is a total #Fail and I can only see three reasons for it:

  1. This is use case that somehow Apple never thought of.
  2. This is a pretty stunning bug that Apple’s QA teams somehow missed.
  3. Apple made the decision to restrict this functionality so that you will be forced to buy an Apple TV to get this functionality.

The cynical side of me says it is the third item. But Apple can prove me wrong by fixing this. I say that because as it stands, I see value in Apple Fitness+ where I could integrate it into my larger fitness routine. And my wife sees value in it as she can get in a workout whenever she has time as there’s a variety of workouts which last different durations. But not being able to AirPlay to a big screen TV, which is inside Apple’s ecosystem without buying another piece of hardware is inexcusable. Especially, seeing as Apple’s main competition in this space which is the Peloton fitness app works with AirPlay with no issues whatsoever. For that reason, and that reason alone, when the three month trial is up for Apple Fitness+, we will discontinue it. Which is unfortunate as Apple has pretty much nailed every other aspect of this app, and they could dominate the fitness app space with ease. But they have to fix this one fatal flaw.

One Response to “Review: Apple Fitness+”

  1. […] I originally reviewed Apple Fitness+, I had this to say about the one fatal flaw that it had, which was the inability to use AirPlay to […]

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