Apple Fitness+ Review: Who Will Love It & Who May Not

Apple's newest fitness program has a lot to offer, but comes up short in a few key areas. We reviewed Apple Fitness+ to help you decide if the Apple Watch-based home workout program is right for you.

How do you work out in a world where COVID-19 has made gyms unsafe? The simple answer is to work out at home, but that doesn't mean it's easy. Home workouts seem lackluster when you've been stuck at home for months already. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Apple has met this need head-on with a techy subscription offering, complete with a free trial offer. The advent of their newest fitness app, Apple Fitness+, is timed just right, but the expectations are high for this new service. So how does it measure up?

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Apple Fitness Plus... Finally!

I'm a Certified Personal Trainer, so I keenly feel the frustration and struggle in trying to force yourself to work out even in the best of circumstances, let alone a time when distractions and stress are at all-time highs. Most people don't have much in the way of at-home workout equipment, and many are short on free time and motivation. Combine that with the fact that many families are having to budget especially carefully right now, and options for maintaining fitness are not exactly plentiful.

Enter: Apple Fitness Plus (you'll see it referred to as Fitness+ as well). My coworkers here at iPhone Life have been patiently tolerating my excited chatter about this new service ever since it was announced in September, and I'll admit I'm still just as excited about it despite some of the notable drawbacks I've discovered while using Fitness+. So let's get down to it: who is going to love Apple Fitness+, and who will likely cancel after their free trial?

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Related: Fitness+: Apple's Comprehensive Digital Workout Program

Apple Fitness Plus Apple Watch pairing
Image courtesy of Apple.com

Apple Watch Users Should Try Apple Fitness Plus

Without a doubt, anyone who owns an Apple Watch should take advantage of the free trial. It's designed for Apple Watch users, and incorporates the watch's fitness metrics right on the screen to give you calorie-by-calorie motivation and tracking. You can use it at home or at the gym, and Smart Suggestions will hook you up with recommendations based on your activity and previous workouts.

If you have an Apple Watch but other family members don't, they can follow along, but they won't be able to track their metrics in the Fitness app or access the workouts solo, which is a major bummer, and probably the biggest drawback of this subscription-based service. On the one hand, I can see why Apple would want to incentivize users to buy more Apple Watches, but on the other, they’re expensive, and leaving out a whole group of users who may otherwise use the service isn’t what I’d call smart marketing.

The price of the subscription isn't especially high, though, which is good. At $9.99/month or $79.99/year, many users won't feel too much of a burden on their pocketbooks. However, users who can manage their own workouts (like me), or who truly don't care to spend the extra cash (also like me), will likely opt to cancel at the end of their free trial.

Apple Fitness Plus search filtersApple Fitness Plus workout summary page

Fitness Plus Is Easy to Use & Easy to Enjoy

Tucked accessibly into a new tab within your Fitness app, Apple Fitness+ is designed to be useful and fun. You can do Fitness+ workouts on your iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV, as long as you've kept up with current iOS updates. The interface itself isn’t hard to browse and search, and each workout comes with a description to help you understand the difficulty, impact, and cardio level of the exercise.

The welcome screen is a great place to find suggested workouts, scroll through categories, and see what themed workouts are available (like the Holiday Cheer category). You can also tap right into a selection of beginner-friendly workouts without having to search or filter categories.

Apple Fitness Plus home screenApple Fitness Plus workouts for beginners

One downside, though, is that when you’re using the filters within a workout category, such as Strength, you only have the option to filter by trainer, time, and music. I could see a filter for skill level coming in handy here, especially since most of the workout titles are not at all descriptive of the intensity level. Or, frankly, descriptive at all. You have to actually tap into the workout to read the description in order to gauge the level of the workout. That said, most of the workouts are quite scalable and will allow users to perform the movements with variances in pace, treadmill incline, weight, or resistance. This means absolutely anyone can use Fitness+ for exercise, including newbies, personal trainers, and everyone in between.

You can also see a checkmark on workouts you've done before, and add any workout to your Workouts for easy access later. All of your workout activity is tracked on your Apple Watch, making it extremely easy too close those Activity Rings!

Apple Fitness Plus on an iPad
Image courtesy of Apple.com

Fitness Plus Trainers Are Top Notch

One thing we know about Apple is that the company wants to be represented well, and they chose Fitness+ trainers accordingly. I spent quite a bit of time looking through the profiles of the Fitness+ trainers, checking out their current and previous Instagram posts, and gauging how well they give cues for pace, safety, and modifications for less-advanced users.

In a word, I’m impressed. The only thing that made me choose certain workouts over others was my own mood. I didn’t dislike what I saw from any of the trainers, and they all appear to be both qualified and skilled in their areas of instruction.

From experience, I can tell you that training a person you can’t see is pretty tough; you have to know how to give the right linguistic cues to ensure that a trainee knows how to maintain healthy and safe form. On this one, Apple nailed it. As Apple puts it, these trainers are "All inspiration. No intimidation." If you're looking for someone to terrify you into working out à la Jillian Michaels, you may want to look elsewhere.

Apple Fitness Plus workout types

Pros:

  • Free one-month or three-month trial
  • Huge variety of workouts for strength, cardio, yoga, and many more
  • App experience is designed to be simple and familiar so that even novice users can navigate it
  • The Fitness+ welcome screen suggests options for all fitness levels
  • You can add Fitness+ workouts to your Workouts to save for later
  • Workouts are fun and engaging, and most are scalable to your fitness level
  • Trainers are experts in their fields, and chosen based on their engaging personalities
  • Workout tracking readouts show on your screen during the workout, and save in your Activity when completed
  • Even if you don't have a treadmill or a stationary bike at home, you'll have plenty of cardio and strength options to choose from

Cons:

  • You have to have an Apple Watch to use Apple Fitness+
  • You have to have an iPad or an Apple TV, otherwise you'll be stuck doing workouts on a tiny iPhone screen
  • Search filters are limited and not especially helpful until you have already done several workouts
  • Workouts are not given intuitive titles, making it hard to know what a workout includes unless you select it and read the description

The Final Verdict

You'll notice I didn't mention the price in the Pros and Cons. In my opinion, the price isn't prohibitive, unless you won't get much use out of the app. However, shelling out almost 10 bucks a month can be a good motivator. 

All in all, I can see what Apple did here, and I like it. Apple Fitness+ is an excellent and timely addition to the Fitness app, and will serve many users with exactly the kinds of instruction, structure, and motivation needed to stay fit at home. Unfortunately, many features feel half-baked, such as the limitations to search and filtering, and the fact that so many Apple users are excluded from taking part in workouts because they don't own an Apple Watch.

I've given Apple Fitness+ a rating of four stars, but I'm looking forward to further development of the service and hoping for more inclusion in future.

Four-star rating
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Author Details

Erin Smith's picture

Author Details

Erin Smith

Erin Smith is a Feature Writer for iPhone Life and has been a writer, editor, and researcher for many years. She has a degree in communication with an emphasis on psychology and communication, and has spent many of her professional years as a coach in various business and specialty fields. Erin officially joined the ranks of iPhone and Apple users everywhere around seven years ago, and has since enjoyed the unique and customized feel of Apple technology and its many gadgets. When she’s not working, Erin and her son enjoy outdoor adventures, camping, and spending time with their eclectic collection of pets.