Apple Fitness+ is taking on Headspace with all-new wellness tools

Here's everything you need to know about the company's upcoming updates to Apple Fitness+

Woman doing yoga online
(Image credit: Getty Images)

There's good news for fans of Apple Fitness+ as the company took to its annual Apple Event to unveil some widely-rumored additions to the service, including Pilates classes, guided meditations, and Group Workouts.  

Apple Fitness+ only launched in December 2020, but it's clear that the company aims to make it one of the best fitness apps for iPhone and Apple Watch users. Initially, the subscription-based app was a fitness-focused option, but now it is a viable alternative to popular meditation apps like Headspace and Calm.

From September 27th, you can open the Fitness app on your iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV and choose from one of nine meditation themes, including Purpose, Kindness, Gratitude, Wisdom, Calm, Focus, and Resilience. Similarly, there's a Meditation for Beginners program to ease you into a regular practice. 

Each guided meditation video can be set to either 5, 10, or 15 minutes. But you don't have to be near a screen to benefit, as you can access audio-only versions of each meditation with Apple's new Mindfulness app for Apple Watch users, which replaces Breathe on devices running watchOS 8.

There are also new low-impact Pilates workouts for subscribers, set to 10, 20, or 30 minutes long. Importantly, you won't need any equipment, other than one of the best yoga mats, to participate, though some classes also incorporate some resistance bands exercises.

One of the most exciting additions is Group Workouts, expected to come to the service later in the fall, alongside these new wellbeing-focused features. This allows you to exercise with friends on Apple Fitness+ using the company's upcoming SharePlay technology.

Inspired by the pandemic-enforced social distancing measures, the feature will mean you can join a Group Workout with up to 32 people from a group chat or FaceTime call. Your workout buddies will appear on-screen, along with some performance metrics, and you can speak to them throughout the session.

Why should you subscribe to Apple Fitness+?

Apple Fitness+ HIIT session

(Image credit: Apple)

When it first launched, we reviewed Apple Fitness+ and found that it was easily one of the best value options out there. The company has continually added content and other features to keep you active and healthy in the months since.

The glue binding all of these features together is the Apple Watch. The wearable is an essential part of Apple Fitness+, as the wrist-based device monitors your heart rate, movements, and other fitness data to track your performance and offer real-time coaching advice.

The newly-launched guided meditations also come in audio form and download straight to your Apple Watch, so you only need to connect your AirPods or a set of the best workout earbuds to your watch to make use of the sessions.

If you subscribe to Apple Fitness+, then you'll have 11 types of workouts available to you, including yoga, HIIT, walking, and meditation and Pilates. New workouts are added each week from a variety of trainers, so you should be able to find sessions that work for you.

The service is competitively priced, costing $9.99/£9.99 per month or $79.99/£79.99 annually. Comparatively, annual subscriptions to Headspace or Calm cost $69.99 each.

Although they aren't direct competitors to Apple Fitness+, Headspace has also expanded to include mindful exercise sessions and relaxing music. Meanwhile, Calm offers meditations and other content to help you overcome anxiety and sleep better.

Despite the benefits of these services, you might prefer a lower-cost option. Fortunately, you can learn how to meditate with just a little time and a quiet place to sit.

James Frew
Fitness Editor

James is a London-based journalist and Fitness Editor at Fit&Well. He has over five years experience in fitness tech, including time spent as the Buyer’s Guide Editor and Staff Writer at technology publication MakeUseOf. In 2014 he was diagnosed with a chronic health condition, which spurred his interest in health, fitness, and lifestyle management.

In the years since, he has become a devoted meditator, experimented with workout styles and exercises, and used various gadgets to monitor his health. In recent times, James has been absorbed by the intersection between mental health, fitness, sustainability, and environmentalism. When not concerning himself with health and technology, James can be found excitedly checking out each week’s New Music Friday releases.