Wednesday, 23 December 2020

Apple Fitness+ One week on

 It's been a week with Apple Fitness+ and I have to say I am thoroughly enjoying it. Sure, I'm walking like a penguin cowboy as my muscle stiffen after pushing myself hard but that's had the fun right? What have been the highs and lows of my first week?

The Highs

There have been a number of highs created by the platform:

Instant feedback

I'm a numbers person so I love seeing my heart rate playback to me exactly how hard I am being on myself. We all have those times when we are feeling good allowing us to do more. We also have times when we can't push ourselves hard enough. I was wondering just how well Fitness+ would give the pressure of a personal training session without the trainer being there. The heartbeat tracking is a great way to do that once you understand your limits and levels. 

From previous exercise and tracking, I know that my heart rate tops out at 189 when running. I also know how hard it is to get close to that when cycling. This gives me a good idea of how to work in a range that makes sense for me. Throughout the sessions, Fitness+ occasionally flips to view in the top-left corner of the full heart beat range for the session. Your heart beat is always shown but highlighting the range can help those who aren't used to what their working ranges are, find them. 

The burn bar also appears at time and shows your calorie burn rate relative to others. There are five categories that you can achieve (from easiest to hardest):
  1. Behind the pack
  2. In the pack
  3. Middle of the pack
  4. Front of the pack
  5. Ahead of the pack
If you have a wifi connection, you will get a view of your performance versus others. I workout offline occasionally so unless I connect to my phone's network, I don't see this. Where I have made the connection, the burn bar is great for pushing you on a little harder. I am competitive so always want to be as far along the bar as possible. You are graded for the last two minutes of work versus others so you can get swings as you go through the workout. The session as a whole is graded after you finish. 

Both heart rate and burn bar keeps your motivation going well throughout the hard parts of each session. Speaking of keeping you going...

Storytelling during sessions

I love the instructors stories as they go through the workouts. Whether it is talking about looking for small wins, wanting to be a lead singer in a rock band or working your way uptown as you are late for work, these storylines help to distract from the burning in your legs. I'm not sure what it is going to be like when going back over similar sessions (if I need to do that) to get the same stories again but in the short time I like the flow. 

In a recent session there wasn't really a story and I actually found myself missing them. Keep the stories coming team!

Nudge to try something more

I love cycling and after hours of trying to entertain myself on the turbo trainer with music, podcasts or tv programmes, I was curious as to how long it would be before I started trying non-cycling workouts. Apparently five days is the answer. 

The Fitness app does a great job of nudging you towards both 'More of What you do' in similar classes you have taken before but with different instructors, or the same instructors with different music genres. Alternatively, the app nudges you towards new types of sessions. I chose strength and didn't regret it. 

Gregg's 10 minute strength session was a great way to get going with a different class. I will definitely be going back to other strength sessions and felt good (apart from my hamstrings) the next day for trying something else. At the end of the day, if you don't like it, there is no shame in stopping a workout early as you're not going to offend the trainer. I'm interested to see how this effects people choosing different classes once in-person classes come back post-covid. 

The Lows

For an app that is only a week old, that's not a bad list of Highs. But if anyone is out there listening, what would I like a little more of or change?

Too much variety right now

At the point of launch, I was seriously impressed with the range of exercises, music genres and trainers available. But was it too much? Once I find a session I like, it's difficult to find the same trainer, doing the same type of exercise with the same music again. Maybe this is intentional as it forces you to try different classes with different instructors but it's also a little frustrating. I want a 45 minute, rock, cycle workout but there just aren't any. 

Hopefully this will change rapidly as Apple release new workouts weekly. It would be neat to be able to set alerts for the sessions you are looking for too. 

Obviously, if you are joining Apple Fitness in a couple of months, you will probably wonder what the heck I'm talking about... or at least I hope so!

More detailed views

Yep, another point about be being data driven. I love being able to get stuck into the details of my ride and at the moment, there isn't much to get stuck into. I'd love to compare this 20 min ride versus my other 20 minute ride. Yes, there will be different points where I am pushing harder based on the session but there needs to be a way of analysing how well I am working. The Heart Rate chart is virtually impossible to read or compare between sessions. Would another chart type of time spent in each 10 bpm range show my efforts more clearly? I think so. 
Having more detail on the Burn Bar would also be useful. Although the chart makes it look like I can see how far ahead of the pack I am at the end of the session, this really doesn't seem to change. I would love to know this to see whether I am getting further away from the pack, or whether they are pulling be back in. 

Help from Apple to let me have some deeper views would help a lot to keep me motivated and monitor my performance. 

Focused sessions on certain body types

With such variety, it's hard to find exactly the workout I want and when I want it. The current filters don't really do the job. Yes, I can pick the exercise I want, any particular trainer, the time and music genre but I can't pick what part of the body I want to focus on or what equipment I might need. 

I know that after a cycle, I'd love a mindful cooldown (love these sessions by the way) that is either on the bike or doesn't involve a mat. I found myself reading a lot of descriptions to try to infer which sessions would be standing only. I highly recommend 'Mindful Cooldown with Dustin - 5 mins - Chill Vibes' for post cycling to calm down your body but find I still need to stretch my thighs separately. 

In Summary

I am enjoying using the app. I have completed 10 different sessions from 5 different trainers. I don't feel bored on the bike and have enjoyed exploring other forms too. Hope your enjoying the app too if you are using it. 

Favourite class: Cycling with Emily 
Time: 20 mins
Music: Latest Hits 
Difficulty: 7 (on a 0 to 10 scale)
Why?: Brilliant Hill Climb class even though it isn't sold as such. Didn't get into the music but nicely structured session that felt like a normal hill climb workout in a spin class. 

Weight: 101.3 kgs

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