When I wrapped up my Apple Fitness Plus review a few weeks ago, I thought the on-demand workout service left much to be desired. The lack of difficulty labels and other indicators of a not fully mature service pushed me to more familiar, fleshed-out alternatives for getting my sweat on.
But as someone who likes to switch up their workout routines, I’ve found myself back in Apple Fitness Plus’s sexy SoCal studios. Well, virtually, of course. With fresher classes, timelier playlists and higher esteem for the coaching staff, Apple Fitness Plus has managed to win me over. And no, it’s not just because Dolly Parton is one of the Time to Walk hosts.
Besides, one advantage to Apple Fitness Plus I glossed over in my initial review is the utter convenience of workout classes wherever there’s an Apple device. And in my house, that’s pretty much everywhere, so I never have an excuse to forgo closing my Apple Watch Series 6’s activity rings.
I’m sure that’s exactly what Apple’s going for with Fitness Plus, and I’m okay with it. It’s still not the only exercise service I use, but here are a few reasons why I’ve warmed up to incorporating Apple Fitness Plus into my activity regimen as well as a few upgrades I’d still like to see.
The modifications are actually helpful
Although Apple Fitness Plus doesn’t have dedicated classes for beginners or low-impact exercisers, the floor-based workouts always provide a modifier, or coach who models easier moves throughout the session. At first I thought the alternations felt forced, but as I’ve taken more classes I’ve grown to appreciate seeing appropriate adjustments on-screen.
The modifications are especially helpful during high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts, which tend to feature lots of jumping, pivoting and lunging — all movements my knees simply aren’t made for. I’ve learned over the years how to scale it back when needed and how to adapt workouts for my own mobility, but Apple Fitness Plus succeeds in taking some of the thinking out of the equation.
Coaches set a high bar
Apple Fitness Plus wouldn’t be much without its team of coaches, all of whom were clearly vetted by Apple and hired based on their individual experience and background. The company took obvious measures to ensure diversity across race, birthplace, body type and ages, and it pays off. For example, Amir Ekbatani has a prosthetic leg but his strength workouts are some of the best on Apple Fitness Plus. He even flexes fitness science facts while he breaks down moves, adding a specific perspective you’ll only find in his classes.
Every coach similarly brings their own interests, knowledge and personality to the mat (or machine, in the case of cycling, running and rowing.) Of course, a lot of the class intros and outros are scripted. But overall the coaches act and speak like normal humans you’d want to be friends with, not fitness junkies who make you feel inferior for being less ripped than them.
More in-app awards and cumulative activity summaries
Something I’d like to see more of in Apple Fitness Plus is in-app achievements or contests. Currently, the Burn Bar shows you how many calories you burn compared to other users who took the same class. But that’s it in terms of competition, both on a personal and platform-wide level. I say if working out is going to be a game, then make it a game, Apple.
At the very least, Fitness Plus should introduce in-service awards or badges like those for Apple Watch activity for reaching class or calorie burn milestones. Better yet, I’d love to see a summary of my cumulative performance in a tab on the Fitness app. Perhaps that summary could recommend future class sequences based on goals I’m trying to achieve, too.
Difficulty ratings, please!
If there’s one feature Apple Fitness Plus needs ASAP, it’s difficulty ratings. Yes, this is the hill I’m choosing to die on. While class trailers give a sneak peak at the workout to come, it’s not enough to tell a user whether it’s right for their experience level. Even with a modifier, more than once I found a yoga practice too difficult for me. Yoga is one of those workout types that’s widely and intentionally labeled for skill level to prevent injury.
I don’t care whether Apple rates classes in-house or lets users submit ratings after they’ve completed a class. Take a note from Peloton’s classes, which are rated 1-10 on difficulty, so beginners and pros alike know what they’re getting into.
Thinking of trying Apple Fitness Plus for yourself? See our guide on how to set up Apple Fitness Plus. Keep in mind that you’ll need an Apple Watch to workout, so check out the best Apple Watch deals right now to start closing your rings with Fitness Plus like I do.