Will the Gym Industry Embrace Apple Fitness+?

    • One major gym chain will offer Apple Fitness Plus for free to members.
    • Gyms could seek to tap into Apple’s massive user base.

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The launch of Apple Fitness+ has already been embraced by one of the largest gym chains in North America. 

Life Time will offer the $9.95 per month Apple Fitness+ subscription free to all its more than 1.5 million members, part of a renewed digital push by the chain that has 150 North American locations.

“We are rapidly expanding the way the world connects to Life Time through technology – with the same high-quality experiences our brand has been recognized for delivering at our athletic resorts for nearly 30 years,” Life Time Founder, Chairman and CEO Bahram Akradi said in a statement. “Apple Fitness Plus brings additional best-in-class content and variety to the ever-growing digital and omnichannel wellness programs, services and content we provide our members.”

The Dec. 14 rollout of Apple Fitness+ included 200 workouts, and more than 20 new workouts will be added each week.

Apple expects most users to do them inside their house, something that’s become more common as the pandemic stretches on. 

But there are signs Apple is looking outside of just the home for its fitness effort, which could be explained by the fact development of the platform began well ahead of COVID-19. 

The workouts at launch include many spinning, rowing and treadmill workouts — the type of equipment that’s become scarce and/or expensive during the pandemic. Take the link on Apple Fitness page that takes people to a $2,062 dumbbell set sold by Rogue Fitness and a $9,740 TechnoGym treadmill. 

The gym could be the only way many users will have access to equipment used in the workouts, especially when Apple builds its in-demand library with longer and more difficult routines. 

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Chain gyms and boutique fitness studios went all-in on remote workouts as facilities shuttered as the pandemic took hold earlier this year. From more polished products to the use of Instagram Live, Zoom and other live streaming platforms, many have established a decent digital footprint. 

And that’s something that former Gold’s Gym president Adam Zeitsiff thinks has room to expand.

“Any time a company like Apple can bring awareness to fitness and promotes an active lifestyle with their reputation, that’s a good thing,” said Zeitsiff, who is now the CEO of Intelivideo, a company that works with gyms to provide on-demand and live-streaming video services.. 

“There is always going to be a certain subset who wants to work out with Apple Fitness+ or Peloton three or four days a week. That’s great,” he said.” But I think that the vast majority of people need the support and guidance from their local health club. They also need help and support when they’re not there.”

Apple’s apparent openness to collaborations with its new fitness service could be embraced in a way that Peloton, Tonal and Lululemon-owned Mirror haven’t been by the gym industry. Here’s why: 

  • Apple sold more than 30 million Apple Watches per one estimate in 2019 and continues to dominate the smartwatch market. (The Apple Watch is required to use Apple Fitness+.) That’s a huge customer base that gyms would be willing to embrace. 
  • Apple is in a unique position in the online fitness app space because it doesn’t make fitness equipment like other at-home fitness brands that seek to be a replacement for gym memberships. 
  • There doesn’t appear to be immediate plans by Apple to offer live classes, a major draw for brick and mortar gyms. Same goes for one-on-one training, meaning it’s not a threat to personal training offerings at standard gyms.