betting on me + apple fitness+

Strange Fixations, Vol. 16 — doing yoga and getting strong

[via Apple]

Hello friends.

We made it! The Trump presidency is officially over and it’s time to start bullying Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. for all those progressive promises that were made during campaign time. Hope you are still checking in on your local representatives and keeping them accountable even as we head back into a more polite and normalized way of politicking than we’ve become accustomed to over the past four years. Whether you watched the inauguration with hope and joy or rolled your eyes at the pomp and circumstance, I think we can all agree those Bernie memes were fire.

I mentioned a few posts back that I have been trying out the new Apple Fitness+ service and that I would do a more in-depth review once I’d spent more time with it. Well, that time has come and I’m ready to tell you what I think about the latest fitness subscription plan that requires specific hardware you may or may not want!

Fitness+ is the paid upgrade to Apple’s Fitness app, which is the rebrand of what used to be the Activity app. It’s the app that goes hand in hand with the Apple Watch, which tracks your steps, calories burned, exercise time, heart rate, and the amount of time you spend sitting versus standing, among other things. The central metric of the Watch is “rings,” one for calories, one for exercise, and one for standing. The initial goals are fairly conservative but each week you can adjust as needed, to either give yourself a bit of a break or ramp up the challenge.

A few of my friends are Apple diehards, they watch all the keynotes and new product announcements, they extol the virtues of Apple’s function and design over competitors, and they are first in line to buy the latest Apple products to sync up with the rest of their Apple-compatible homes. I’ve never been on that level. Growing up, I never had a lot of gadgets, my family being fairly tech-light. My dad liked computers but he preferred the customizable options available to PCs and would regularly keep old computers running for years by replacing parts and modding the machine, always eager to share when he found a part he needed for cheap on eBay from some seller overseas.

My mom did more art and design-focused work, which at the time required Mac OS, so she would have her iMac while my dad took his laptop apart and put it back together over and over again. Mom wasn’t tech-savvy, so she liked the simple, plug-and-play style of her Mac, while my dad found it insulting and exploitative that you couldn’t get into the guts of an Apple product without their special tools and secret backdoors. I didn’t have a cell phone until high school, and once I got them they were always Androids. My first MP3 player was a little Sony or Samsung deal, clunkier than an iPod but with greater memory capacity, removable storage, and universal cables you could find in any electronics department. I would never get Apple products until I was in college and paying for them with my own money, and even then, I adopted them slowly.

It’s only been in the last few years that I’ve come around to a more Apple-friendly lifestyle. I got off my parents’ phone plan and joined my husband in the iPhone world, and from there it has been easier to just get more Apple stuff to keep everything integrated. The latest generation of Apple products has more smooth connectivity than ever before, so really I waited for the best time for all the hardware to finally work together in the easy, futuristic way the presentations have always promised.

Still, I hesitated on the Apple Watch. I would never have bought it for myself, and only have one now because a friend who had one and really enjoyed it wanted to gift me one for Christmas. It took a little convincing, but eventually I came around and committed to wearing the sleek little data collector on my wrist.

I say all this to get to the biggest issue with Fitness+: if you’re not The Ideal Apple User, it probably isn’t for you. There are just so many of those exclusive requirements that my dad would have hated, a hardware-based barrier to entry that ends up in the range of several hundred dollars at minimum. Fitness+ is designed to sync up with your Watch metrics, so if you don’t have a Watch, you immediately get less out of the experience. You also can’t use Fitness+ on a regular Smart TV, can’t mirror it on Chromecast or even the Apple version, AirPlay. If you want to do exercises on your television, you need an Apple TV. Oh, and even if you have the Apple TV, you need the Watch too.

You can play Fitness+ exercise videos on your iPhone or iPad without a Watch, but the smaller screen is less than ideal, and only really works if you’re using it in combination with some other expensive exercise equipment, like a stationary bike or treadmill that has a stand for your iPad or phone. The Fitness+ service is also somewhat pricey, at $9.99 a month or $79.99 for a year, though that’s less than similar services like Peloton Digital which will run you $12.99/month (albeit with greater versatility, device compatibility, and variety of workouts).

The Fitness+ content is good, and I have enjoyed trying out different workouts and trainers, seeing what works for me and whose personalities I like best. My unexpected favorite category of workout has been the Strength exercises, which mostly utilize weight-lifting moves, scaled up or down for your particular activity needs. I’ve also enjoyed the various Yoga workouts, which have been surprisingly challenging and a sign that I need to work on my flexibility! I feel like I would also like the cycling classes, but that would require another large purchase I’m not entirely comfortable making, especially since I bought a small elliptical a few years back that I ultimately sold because I didn’t use it enough to justify the space it took up in our apartment.

Honestly, I’m liking Fitness+ and it’s helping me to stay more active than I’ve ever been, especially in these pandemic times when many gyms are closed and outdoor activities can be hit or miss depending on how many people are in the area. But frankly, if I didn’t get an Apple Watch as a gift that triggered a three month free trial of the service, I probably wouldn’t be using it. This Watch has definitely reignited my competitive spirit and encouraged me to do more regular exercise, but I have a hard time recommending the whole Apple Fitness ecosystem to people because if you want the complete experience and you’re starting from scratch? You’re easily looking at a price tag of $1000 or more.

But that’s kind of Apple’s thing, right? Luxury tech, sleek looks, having-it-all, wrapped in a specially-designed, expensive-looking box with an embossed logo. I still carry a bit of my dad’s skepticism of it all, but I’ll keep taking advantage of the benefits until they no longer justify the cost.

Honorable Mentions for Fixation of the Week

  • Still playing Pokémon Snap and Hades. I’m almost done with Pokémon Snap and getting closer to the end of the main story for Hades, but it still is hard! Even on God Mode! I appreciate it though because damn is there a lot of game packed into this little package.
  • My fucking notebooks!! I have too many of them and need to fill them with things. It is happening but holy shit, these notebooks. I need to be stopped.
  • The Nib. I became a member of The Inkwell, The Nib’s subscription service a while back when they were still part of First Look Media. They have since gone independent and through the pandemic had to make a lot of changes to keep things running. But they are still publishing and getting their print magazine out despite it all. I always look forward to my issues and the most recent one, focused on the pandemic, has been really enlightening and good to read. It’s always nice to know that people will keep making art, no matter what.

Have a wonderful weekend and take care of yourselves.

❤ Elyse

Originally published January 22nd, 2021 at https://elyse.substack.com.

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An opinionated nerd who writes about media, pop culture, and other things.

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Elyse Wietstock

Elyse Wietstock

An opinionated nerd who writes about media, pop culture, and other things.

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