Apple Fitness

Posted here (week 2452).

Aside from yoga, I’ve never been one for fitness instruction. I’d rather just ride my bike with music, even on rollers in a garage, than go to a spinning class. On the rowing machine, I’ve been quite content to listen to music when I’m looking to sweat or a podcast when I’m just trying to get my heart rate up.

So when Apple introduced Fitness+ I was intrigued in a business sense but not personally interested. Curious about the UX, Shannon and I tried one of the dance workouts on the TV. It was a disappointment that it can’t handle multiple users but otherwise worked as expected. Which doesn’t mean I’ll ever do it again.

I was pleasantly surprised to see they have rowing workouts, and was curious how on earth that is supposed to work. So, I tried one of those. It’s as ridiculous as it sounds; an instructor and maybe a few others on rowing machines, coaching and guiding through intervals of effort. Not actually any more absurd than spinning classes, but somehow rowing seems even sillier.

Yet, it works! I have a sense that I’m getting a better strength workout with these than when I simply listen to music and provide my own interval cycles. I still feel silly about it, but have to accept that I am somehow motivated by either Josh and Anja’s coaching or the “burn bar” that judges my relative effort.

Now I’m hooked and want more music and training options, and hope someday to see GymKit integration so I might have a machine that measures my power directly.

Similarly, I thought the new “Time to Walk” feature on the Apple Watch seemed silly. If I want to listen to people while I walk, I’ll choose a podcast. But I gave it a try and found it more enjoyable than expected.

I don’t have to think about what to listen to. Apple can be trusted to create interesting content, and being meant for walking matters. The pacing is right, the audio is clear, and they are edited so you don’t feel lost if you have to put your attention elsewhere. I’ve enjoyed three already: Bubba Wallace doesn’t share deep thoughts, but his middle-America experience and even the noises of his North Carolina home brought a strange familiarity atop a walk through Amsterdam. Misty Copeland’s story was so moving I had to hold back tears while walking in public. And Anderson Cooper is just a relatable nerd that I’d like to hang out with.

Apple Fitness+ may not be “worth it” compared to Peloton or free podcasts, but rowing workouts and ready-to-go walks are compelling. I thought it would be the least-valuable component of Apple One, but that has turned out to be News+.