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Apple Fitness Plus updates fight Fitbit and Peloton

Apple has announced a huge update for Apple Fitness Plus that aims to appeal to Fitbit Premium and Peloton subscribers. Fitness Plus now offers guided Pilates classes, mindfulness sessions, and group workouts so you can participate in a virtual class with friends and family.

On-demand training services have really taken off during the pandemic, with gyms around the world closing their doors and people looking for ways to exercise at home. Apple joined the fray in December 2020 with Fitness Plus – a service that aimed to woo Fitbit Premium and Peloton users with a cheaper subscription price and new classes added every week.

When it launched, Fitness Plus offered classes in HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), yoga, cycling, treadmill running, treadmill walking, dancing, weight training, strength and fitness. rowing. Now Apple has also added guided Pilates sessions, with new classes added every month – an option you won’t find in Fitbit Premium.

There are also new mindfulness classes in Fitness Plus, with guided meditation sessions for subscribers. Fitbit has been emphasizing mental wellness in recent months, with sessions on mindful eating and body positivity, as well as classes led by meditation guru Deepak Chopra, but Apple may well use its influence. to deliver many more courses and bring in other big names in future updates.

Fitbit Premium on an iPhone

Fitbit Premium offers Deepak Chopra-led meditation classes as well as guided workouts, but Apple could bring in its own celebrity mindfulness trainers (Image credit: Fitbit)

Apple is also targeting Peloton with a new group training option. In April 2020, Peloton launched a new “Sessions” feature that allows small groups of friends to train together in a virtual classroom. Each session has its own small ranking, and participants can cheer and compete against each other via the webcams of their Peloton bikes or treadmills.

Apple Fitness Plus now offers a very similar feature, which allows up to 32 people to participate in a class together and chat using their iPhone or iPad’s camera. That may be enough to entice some Peloton users to make the switch, especially if their regular workout buddies have an Apple Watch.

Workouts with Apple Watch 7

There were far fewer new fitness updates for the Apple Watch. Rumors that the Apple Watch 7 might feature new advanced health tracking hardware, including blood pressure and blood sugar sensors, have been proven to be unfounded.

The most important updates to the watch’s health features are all cycling-related – the Apple Watch 7 can automatically start tracking bike trips and pause them when you take a break. It’s a handy feature, but already present in entry-level sports watches like Garmin.

Man riding Norco Sight VLT C2 e-bike on a forest trail

Apple Watch 7 will be able to calculate calories burned while riding an electric bike more accurately than previous models (Image credit: Norco)

Apple has also extended its fall detection feature to cycling, automatically calling emergency services if you fall and don’t act quickly to cancel the alarm.

If you do fall, the watch should be unharmed thanks to its more crack-resistant lens. The watch also has IPX6 water resistance, which allows it to survive high pressure water jets, so you can give it a good wash to remove mud.

There’s also an update for e-bike riders: Watch 7 can track battery-assisted rides and calculate calories more accurately. The company has yet to explain exactly how this will work, but it seems likely that it will use a combination of heart rate and speed data to determine the assistance you receive from the bike’s battery and how much effort you get. provide. in.

Analysis: could we soon see an Apple bike?

Apple Fitness Plus is quickly becoming one of the biggest names in home training, but Peloton still has one big advantage: interactive live classes that better mimic the experience of sweating in a real studio.

All workouts on Fitness Plus are pre-recorded, so the experience isn’t as intense – and since there isn’t any Apple-branded gym equipment, you can’t participate in a spin class that will adjust the weight. resistance of your bike on the fly. That could change soon, however.

As of 2017, it is possible to use a service called Apple Gymkit to pair an Apple Watch with compatible gym equipment for more accurate workout data. The Peloton Bike + is one such compatible machine, but earlier this year Apple disabled Gymkit for certain types of Peloton workouts, much to the chagrin of many owners.

Man using Apple Watch and Peloton Bike Plus

The Peloton Bike Plus is compatible with Apple Gymkit (mainly) (Image credit: Peloton)

The problem was with Peloton’s Bike Bootcamp classes, which included both strength cycling and cardio cycling. Apple explained that Gymkit was not designed for this kind of exercise, and rather than adapting its app, it took over the Bike Bootcamp.

One way for Apple to avoid such problems in the future and keep a firmer grip on user data would be to start making its own spin bikes and treadmills. That would be a big start for the company, but no more than an Apple Car – and as Peloton appears to have its own fitness tracker in the works to compete with the Apple Watch, it might be necessary.

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