Apple announced this month that all iPhone users would be given the option to subscribe to Apple Fitness Plus, even if they don’t have an Apple Watch. If you buy a new iPhone, watch or Apple TV, you can now use the service completely free for three months. It’s a proven strategy used by competitors like Fitbit and could breathe some life into the Fitness+ service.
Apple remains curious to see how many subscribers they have for Fitness Plus. Other on-demand at-home fitness services have faltered in the wake of the pandemic: Peloton, for example, has cut nearly 4,000 jobs this year alone. It seems that people don’t want to stay indoors and exercise anymore: they want to run, go to the gym and do all the things that we couldn’t do in 2020. It’s not hard to imagine that Fitness Plus isn’t the surefire hit it was a few years ago.
As a result, Apple has slightly shifted the focus with its latest content, emphasizing its audio-only Time to Run and Time to Walk programs that encourage users to get outside. Even the new at-home fitness program, Yoga for Runners with legendary ultrarunner Scott Jurek, supports outdoor activities.
iPhone users can now attend their classes at the gym or park anywhere and do the exercises there. Apple has clearly felt the wind blow and is making sure Fitness+ doesn’t suffer the same fate as other home fitness-only services by supporting your health efforts elsewhere.
According to stats (opens in new tab), 240 million iPhones were sold in 2022. Using the service for free for three months will add millions of people to the Fitness Plus ecosystem, and while the majority won’t renew their subscriptions after the free trial ends, some will choose to keep going. The “Fitbit Premium” model of a longer free trial to get people onboard the service and then subscribe will be a boon to Fitness Plus and help it make a living.
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If each workout uses heavily licensed music and is filmed in a cinema-style 4K studio, Fitness Plus has clearly thrown a significant amount of money at it. Apple’s decision to open up Fitness Plus to more users is one way to ensure the platform continues to pay off. Because the last thing Apple wants is for its fitness service to become a superfluous necklace around its neck.
Of course, you don’t get quite the same experience using Fitness Plus without an Apple Watch, as a big benefit of the service is the ability to see stats like your heart rate live on the screen while you exercise. Instead, you get a unique Move ring on your iPhone that estimates your calorie burn and activity stats based on the average of a person your height, weight, and gender.
It’s not that good of course, but for those who don’t have a watch it gives them a good indication of what to expect from Fitness Plus. And what they can expect these days is a fitness subscription service to support an active lifestyle elsewhere, rather than being chained to an Apple TV screen in your living room.