In an effort to become more fit, I’ve been exploring a variety of apps and services and in this post, I thought I would provide a high-level comparison of two popular options: Apple Fitness Plus and Peloton. I should note that I do not currently own any Peloton equipment, so I’m specifically comparing their streaming class offering in this post.
As I wrote an in earlier post, I’m all about gamification as this is an incredible motivator for me. Applying this to exercise though has been a real challenge. My relationship with exercise is, well, it’s complicated. Actually it’s not really that complicated, it’s down-right adversarial. I hate exercising, I’ve never enjoyed it. I know people say that exercise makes them feel alive and wonderful, but as I sit here with my feet up after having completed back-to-back bike workouts in preparation for this post, I am not among that group. That said, I know exercise is important, and I know it’s essential if I am going to reach my fitness goals, not that knowing any of that helps me like exercise any better.
Apple Fitness Plus
I was really excited when I heard that Apple was launching their Fitness Plus service. Apple makes everything seem incredibly cool, and so I immediately wondered: Could they have somehow found a way to make that apply to exercise? In order to use Fitness Plus, you need both an iOS device and an Apple Watch. The Apple Watch part is the most important as without that, you can view the catalog of workouts, but can’t participate in any of them. Signing up is incredibly easy as Fitness Plus is just a tab in the Fitness app which is pre-installed with iOS. The really cool thing with Fitness Plus is that while I’m doing a workout, your metrics such as heart rate and Apple Watch rings progress (calorie burn, exercise minutes and stand minutes) are displayed on-screen. Fitness Plus also has something called the “burn bar” which allows me to see how I stack up against others who have recently completed the same workout. This can be either motivating or discouraging, but fortunately, it can be turned off. From an accessibility perspective, Apple has really done a great job with Fitness Plus. When an instructor wants to draw attention to a particular ring, such as the exercise ring, VoiceOver automatically reads the ring’s current progress. If the instructor wants to draw attention to heart rate, those numbers are also automatically announced. Most importantly, at least for me, VoiceOver reads when a timer starts and stops, along with the timer’s duration, timers are used in the workouts to time all-outs, or similar intervals. I am able to find whatever data I need on-screen, but having data automatically announced when the instructor is focusing on it is really convenient. Closed captioning is also available for many, if not all of the workouts. Unfortunately, audio description is not available, so if I’m not sure how to do a particular exercise, I’m kind of stuck. That said, many of the instructors try to be descriptive which definitely helps.
Until very recently, I was under the impression that in order to use any of Peloton’s services, I would first need to own Peloton equipment such as their bike or treadmill. This is not true though as their streaming class offering does not require one to have Peloton equipment. Setup of the Peloton app was pretty straight-forward although I ran into a few accessibility issues during the setup process, most notably, I had a heck of a time checking the checkbox indicating that I agree with their terms of service.
Peloton offers both live and on-demand classes which is really neat. In theory, if someone wanted to exercise with me, we could agree to both attend the same live class. While in a class, I can see who else is in the class with me (there user names, not video or anything like that) and sometimes the instructors will shout out encouragement to a specific person. I love this because it provides the feel of being in an actual class. Peloton allows me to add friends and then it’s apparently possible to share workout histories with one another, in addition to participating in challenges. Since I have just very recently started trying Peloton, I do not currently have any friends on the app, so haven’t gotten to play with the friend-related features yet — I’m SteveOfMaine by the way, if anyone wants to add me. 🙂
The other thing I like about Peloton is that while they offer fewer workout categories than Apple Fitness Plus, they have a more extensive library of classes, and as just mentioned, many are live. One additional feature that I particularly like is that classes can be scheduled right within the app. For me, my calendar is sacrosanct and if I schedule classes, I’m way more likely to hold myself accountable. Each class also has a difficulty rating and a brief plan of what to expect, in contrast, Apple Fitness Plus workouts are available “to all abilities with modification”, whatever the heck that really means. Peloton’s class description is more specific than Fitness Plus, and as someone who likes knowing what’s about to happen and when, I really appreciate that.
I’ve only written a high-level comparison of Apple Fitness Plus and Peloton. There are many features of both apps which I didn’t discuss and in the case of Peloton, probably many features I haven’t even discovered yet. In terms of Apple Fitness Plus: I love the very tight integration with Apple Watch, I love how VoiceOver automatically announces metrics and other data when it’s being focused on by the instructor, and I love that there are numerous workout categories available. In terms of Peloton: I love the social aspect of it, especially since I’m not brave enough to attend classes in person. In addition Peloton offers many challenges and the possibility to unlock achievements — can we say gamification? Also, with Peloton, I have a better idea of how difficult a class may be and also a clearer description of exactly what will be coming up in a class and when.
Ultimately I’m not sure which service will be best for me long-term, but I’m at least a little more excited about exercise than I was before discovering these services. As far as cost, both services are priced similarly with Apple Fitness Plus costing roughly $10/month and Peloton around $13/month. Fitness Plus is also part of Apple’s Apple One bundle and I believe Peloton has different pricing if you own their equipment.
As I’m still exploring both apps, I may have more information to share as I discover it. If there’s a particular aspect you’d like me to write more about, let me know and I will certainly do my best. On that note, I should probably publish this and get to bed, after all, I’m going to need to rest up for tomorrow’s workout. 🙂