Apple Senior Director of Fitness Technologies, Jay Blahnik sat down with Alison Izzo, host and digital editor of Body+Soul to discuss Fitness+ as a service, its dedicated creative team of trainers, and the importance of metrics. The eight and half minutes Healthy-ish podcast episode gives behind the sense details of Apple’s new activity service and the people involved with it.
Jay Blahnik is the Senior Director of Fitness Technologies at Apple, so it goes without saying that he knows a thing or two about what gets people up and moving. He shares how Apple Fitness+ taps into this, and also why it might be time to rethink where, when and even how you work out. Because, the world has changed. And your gym membership with it.
Jay Blahnik talks about Apple Fitness+ and changing workout trends
Describing his role as the Senior Director of Fitness Technologies, Blahnik explained that he leads the teams driving Apple’s consumer fitness technology initiatives and works with designers, hardware, and software engineers to create fitness experiences on Apple Watch and new Fitness+ service. He said that their primary goal is to help people have a better day and luckily he works with people who want to enrich people’s lives. Here is the detailed interview.
What are the best or the most surprising benefits of working out using Apple Fitness+?
We think there is a lot to love about Apple Fitness+ but there are few things I think that really stand out. First Fitness+ is really a service designed around the idea that everyone is invited to the party. So the trainers are diverse and welcoming, they are truly masters of their craft and they will not only push you to work hard but they will also brighten your spirits, to keep you motivated to stick with it.
They work together in a really unique way, that we think, is a first for fitness service. They come to the studio everyday, they create their workouts together, they give each other feedback, they rehearse together and they even appear in each others workout videos. So no matter what video you are watching, you will get a chance to see a portion of the team.
They have great comradery, one of them is always showing modifications, so if you are brand new at one of the workout types, you will know where to start. And you just feel it right from the very first video you will try; you will just feel that you are in a place that is welcoming, supportive and really motivational .
A lot of people have turned to at-home workouts or different ways to workout due to coronavirus and the outbreak. But when we were talking about it before, you said that Fitness+ was actually in the works pre-coronavirus. So do you think this trend of working out at home or outside the traditional gym membership will stick and why is that?
It is a great question, and I think we all know that the world has changed forever in many ways, and health and fitness is one of them. we know that many people started working out at home during COVID-19 but I think they will return to their gyms and their community centers once it’s healthy to do so.
I think what’s interesting, people that used to only think that they can only get a workout at the gyms are sort of learning another side to themselves which I think is really healthy. They are learning that they can do a quick workout at home or they can go out for a walk and people that might have only thought that they needed to work out at home and were too intimidated with the gyms, are building a whole new skill set and they will be ready to go to the gyms when its time for them to go back.
So, I think we feel, the other side to this that more people are gonna be doing more exercise in more ways than they ever did before. And I think that’s great, people who only did it inside will go outside, folks that only did in the gym will do some at home. I think it’s actually been a positive thing, pushing people to be clever about how they get in shape.
Another thing that I know you are big on is this idea, which very fascinating, is this idea of using metrics as motivation. Can you explain, why you think this approach works?
It’s a great question, I think wanting to measure what you do is almost human nature. We wanna know how far we drove, what grade we got, how hot it is outside. I think it’s the same with fitness, if you know how you are doing; you can see when you are dropping back, when you are pulling ahead, when you are staying the same. And we have seen, even in Fitness+ which has only been out for a month now, but even in all of the work we did for Apple Watch prior to that, we found that people are not just motivated by pulling ahead.
Metrics are funny that way, sometimes you are just really happy that you are not getting any worse. As I get older and I get busier, if I can do as good as I did last week that’s a win. And so it isn’t always about progression, its just sort of knowing about where you are and I think it’s human nature to see those metrics and really find yourself saying can I just go a little harder here or can I try to do what I did last week or if you slip back, can you make that up next time when you work. And we have seen that in Fitness+, the metrics on the screen right from your watch really do make the time fly and really puts you in the experience.
One of the features in Apple Fitness+ is that all the activity rings on the screen and if you happen to close one of those rings while you are in the middle of a workout, there is this big celebration. And it’s funny that you might be in the middle of a burpee set or something really challenging, but when the celebration happens, it is like a little parade for one person. It motivates you in ways that are unexpected to kind of push through which is great.
Finally, it’s like choosing a favorite child here but who is your favorite instructor on the Apple Fitness+ platform and why?
Wao! that is impossible to answer, we obviously picked trainers for the team who we thought would appeal to a wide variety of people and we found them from all over the world who are really interesting with amazing backgrounds. But, I did sort of think I have my favorites and now that I am really using it I find that because they work together as a team and you see them in each other’s workouts, and they are truly friends, you are more excited and willing to try trainers you might not normally try. And you find yourself really enjoying that.
They are like a big group of superheros and they are all amazing. And you might have your favorite character but you sort of know that they are better together and you fall in love with them as a group.
Apple Fitness+ is available for $9.99 per month or $79.99 per year with a one-month free trial period in the U.S., Canada, the UK, Ireland, New Zealand, and Australia. It is compatible with Apple Series 3 or later on watchOS 7.2 paired with iPhone 6s or later on iOS 14.3. To run on bigger screens, the service requires iPad Pro, 5th-gen iPad or later, iPad mini or later, iPad Air 2 or 3rd-gen iPad Air, Apple TV 4K, and Apple TV HD. Users in the Apple ecosystem can also subscribe to the health service along with other services in Apple One bundle. Listen to the complete podcast here and follow Apple Fitness+ trainers and new workouts on Instagram @applefitnessplus.