Apple Fitness + is a pretty good workout app. The trainers are good, the workouts are difficult and you don’t need a lot of equipment to start most classes. But ̵
An Apple Watch
One of the few downsides in our Fitness + review was that you needed an Apple Watch to sign up. It’s not that the integration between Fitness + and your watch is bad, it just doesn’t feel necessary. It’s interesting to see your heart rate and calorie burn live on the screen, but it doesn’t add much to the great trainers and great follow-up workouts.
If you don’t already have an Apple Watch, you need one to use Fitness +. We have a full guide to the three models available now – the Apple Watch Series 6, Apple Watch Series 3, and Apple Watch SE, so check that out if you’re in the market.
However, in my opinion, the Apple Watch SE is the best model for most people. It doesn’t have the Series 6’s always-on display, EKG, or blood O2 tracking, but it’s otherwise quite similar – and over $ 100 cheaper. The one feature that almost justifies the extra price is that it’s always visible, and even then it’s a lot.
Best Apple Watch for most people
An iPhone stand (or Apple TV)
With every Fitness + training, the trainers do all exercises together with you. It makes it really easy to just turn off your brain and work up a sweat. But it does mean that you should be able to see your phone.
I started by simply propping up my iPhone with some coasters, my sunglasses, or anything else I had on hand. It is not an ideal solution. If you’re serious about your workouts, get a good phone stand like this one from Nulaxy instead. It fits any iPhone – and even iPads – and can be rotated to almost any angle. It is also foldable so you can take it with you if you want to exercise in the park.
A good iPhone stand
If you notice that your phone screen is a bit small and you want to see the workouts on a TV screen, you need an Apple TV. There are a few different models available, but the entry-level Apple TV HD is all you need for a home gym.
A yoga mat and yoga blocks
Not all Fitness + classes are intense sweaty parties. There are also relaxing Mindful Cooldowns and smooth yoga classes. For both, a yoga mat and some yoga blocks will go a long way in making you more comfortable – and better able to get deep into a stretch. You can also use your mat for classes such as Core and Strength, where you have to work on the floor.
Yoga mats don’t have to cost a lot of money. The simple BalanceFrom GoYoga + is our pick for the best-value-for-money mat. Of course, if you get serious about your asanas, you can go anything in something like the Liforme Original.
A simple yoga mat
The same goes for yoga blocks: you don’t need anything special to get started. This set of lightweight, high-density foam blocks from Clever Yoga gives you all the support you need – and is easy to wipe clean afterwards. You can always upgrade to single cork blocks in the future.
Some small dumbbells
The HIIT and Dance Fitness + workouts are proof that you can do a serious workout without expensive equipment. However, for the slower, more intentional strength workouts, you’ll need a few dumbbells to get the most out of it.
With things like dumbbells, it’s easy to put on weight. Better to start with a few 3-pound (or even 2-pound) weights and build up as needed. You can always do more reps or move the weights more slowly if you want a heavier workout.
This set of dumbbells from Amazon Basics has two main options: a 2-pound, 3-pound, and 5-pound set of weights, and a 3-pound, 5-pound, and 8-pound weights set. If you’re just starting out with strength training, go for the lighter set. Otherwise, the slightly heavier set gives you a variety of options, depending on what exercises you do and how long the workout takes.
As you get stronger, you can even add a few 10-pound, 12-pound, 15-pound, and even 20-pound dumbbells to your collection.
A stationary bicycle, rower, or treadmill
Quite a large portion of Fitness +’s hundreds of classes are devoted to indoor cycling, rowing, and running. They are also some of the best workouts. This kind of cardio work is associated with many really positive health benefits, such as a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and some cancers.
If you have an old exercise bike or treadmill that is collecting dust in your garage, dig it out. Otherwise, you can buy some sort of entry-level cardio machine for a few hundred dollars.
Indoor Bike Options
Peloton is the big name with the big price tag. In theory, you could use one of his bikes with Fitness +, but it’s almost pointless.
Instead, you better choose an affordable model like the Exerpeutic Folding Magnetic Bike. It has eight levels of magnetic resistance, a comfortable upright riding position and, best of all, foldable when you’re done.
However, if you’re looking to upgrade from the most basic of indoor bikes, we recommend going for the robust and proven Schwinn IC4. This is one of the best indoor exercise bikes you can buy today. Alternatively, you can also pair a regular bike with an indoor bike trainer – basically a kit that turns your regular bike into an indoor bike.
An affordable indoor bike
An Indoor Rower
Rowing is one of my favorite cardio workouts. It’s full-bodied, low-impact, and rewards hard pulls, so it can build your strength too. Unfortunately, indoor rowers are notorious for taking up a lot of space, being quite large even when folded.
The Concept2 Model D is the biggest name in rowing, but not the most affordable. Unless you’re completely sold on river life, you better start with the budget or the compact picks from our roundup of the best rowing machines.
The XTERRA Fitness ERG200 is the most compact rowing machine we recommend. It can be folded to 20.7 x 36.4 x 47.3, (width, length, height), so it can be stored in a reasonably sized cabinet.
Our budget pick, the Sunny Health and Fitness SF-RW5515, is an excellent rower without the exclusive price tag. It is sturdy, has eight adjustable resistance levels and, under the guidance of the Fitness + coaches, is guaranteed to give you a great workout.
A Budget Rower
As a general guideline for cardio equipment, we would direct you away from treadmills to an exercise bike or rower; treadmills simply have a greater impact on your body. You also don’t need extra equipment to go for a walk or jog outside, so indoor cycling or rowing is a great way to add variety to your workouts.
However, if you love walking or running and want to be able to maintain it in all weather conditions, take a look at the XTERRA Fitness TR150 foldable treadmill. It can accelerate up to 10 mph and there are three manual incline settings. It’s affordable, but won’t stop you from pushing yourself hard.
A good treadmill
Room to move and sweat
If you have an Apple Watch and some room to jump around, you can do a lot of Fitness + workouts. It’s really only the strength and cardio machine-based classes that require additional equipment. And even then, you can always take your phone to the gym and use the equipment there.
So don’t let dumbbells or a treadmill be the reason you don’t exercise. Put on your watch and get started.