The Best Fitness Apps for the Apple Watch
The Apple Watch has emerged as an ideal fit for your health and fitness routine — whether you are a hardcore exercise fanatic or just getting started. Tracking your exercises and meeting your goals is a great way to preserve and enhance your physical and mental health, and the Apple Watch stands ready to assist in a number of ways. Start by downloading a few of the finest fitness apps. We’ve rounded up a selection of our favorites, so you can spend less time perusing the App Store and more time hitting the treadmill — or browsing our roundup of the best Apple Watch apps.
If you’re just getting started with the Apple Watch, check out our picks for the best Apple Watch faces and how to customize them. And don’t forget our review of the Apple Watch Series 5 to learn more about the most recent hardware and software.
With the MyTraining Workout Tracker Log, you get valuable health and fitness training and a community of exercise maniacs to help you get motivated to get into shape. Among its free features are support from world-class coaches, weight lifting and functional training, any exercise you want from its extensive library, and the ability to create targeted exercises. You can access the app’s exercise database, which includes specific workouts for legs, arms, chest, thighs, shoulders, glutes, abs, and more. Learn the proper movements and techniques with video demonstrations and use the tracker feature to control sets and weights and see what your friends are doing. A premium version at $10 per month gives you continuously updated ready-made workouts, logs your training with the workout calendar, and offers private chats with a certified coach.
Couch to 5K does exactly that its name implies: Gets you off the couch and running your first race. It is designed to help new runners by encouraging running for 20 to 30 minutes three times a week for nine weeks, and promising the ability to complete a 5K (3.1-mile) race after completing the training. The app provides a training plan designed by Active.com trainers that lets you choose from four motivating virtual coaches. You can hear their human audio cues guide you through each workout. You can also listen to your favorite music with the in-app music player, repeat workouts to track performance improvements, and get support from the running community. The app’s GPS support feature lets you calculate your distance and pace and map your routes.
Leave your stat sheet — and your iPhone — in your gym locker and instead let SmartGym’s Apple Watch app help you track your workout. With SmartGym you can create and manage all your routines, add and vary exercises, customize a timer for specific workouts, and choose from over 250 pre-installed exercises complete with images and animations. SmartGym lets you track your training history and progress, body measurements, and share your routines with others. The Apple Watch tracks your heart rate, distance, and calories burned. Use your session data to count toward your activity rings and use Siri to start your workout. Modify your exercise right from the watch. The free version of SmartGym gives you access to two routines, 10 histories, and two measurements. Subscriptions allow access to unlimited routines, histories, measurements, and a premium account that syncs all data to the cloud. Recent updates let the app show each set individually so you can track both exercises and sets.
Pocket Yoga lets you establish your own yoga studio anywhere you choose and practice at your own pace. You have a choice of 27 different sessions so you can pick the ones best suited to your level. A built-in pose dictionary contains detailed explanations of the posture, alignment, and benefits of each pose and guides you through your entire session. Detailed voice and visual instructions are accompanied by hundreds of illustrated images showing correct posture and alignment. When you are doing a practice on your iPhone, the Watch app offers additional information on your wrist, including current pose, time remaining, heart rate, and calories burned. Or you can just control your practice directly from your Apple Watch. Updates include more than 100 new poses, a new voice, improved remote control and AirPod control, better external music integration, and the ability to stream practice audio to multiple speakers at once.
With HeartWatch you can monitor the old ticker in various modes: waking, regular, workout, and sleep, with each view isolated from the others. This helps you keep track of your heart health for yourself, and also deliver valuable information to medical professionals. The app does this by accessing your heart rate and workout readings from your watch, while an instant background update lets you view your latest heart rate and a summary of your day. You can take a live pulse any time by tapping the Pulse gauge. You can also begin an exercise routine in the app and get live updates on your heart rate zone. The app also lets you track sleep and add measurements and notes. You can now view multiple sleep sessions in one day and tap the button to end a workout. New versions reinstate the workout summary and daily beats-per-minute export.
Strava was one of the first running apps that adapted to the Apple Watch, allowing you to start, complete, and log a fitness session directly from your wrist. While recording, the app shows the distance you’ve traveled, how long you’ve run, your average pace (in kilometers or miles per hour), and your current heart rate. When you’re finished, you can also save your session. Strava also allows you to switch to a different sport if you want to record other activities. You can even explore challenges and run anywhere with the new virtual races feature. Recent app updates roll out the Beacon feature, allowing you to share your location and track live fitness stats directly from your wrist. You can compare your efforts on a segment by speed, and either heart rate or power. You get more filter options in the training log for past activities. Swimmers now see auto sets when recording workouts on Apple’s Workout app and importing them through the Strava Health sync. Non-swim workouts with manual laps have improved lap time calculations, including moving and elapsed time. Improvements to the OpenStreetMap to Routes help runners and bikers avoid dangerous roads.
Runkeeper internally generates its own map using the watch GPS, which helps with tracking your location and progress and, after a period of learning, doesn’t even require you to run with your iPhone. The app also comes with some nice customization features; the run screen shows the elapsed time at the top, but you can alter the middle and lower portions to show distance, current pace, average pace, average heart rate, and a slew of other metrics in whichever order you prefer. The ability to customize the run screen is a great feature we wish more fitness apps provided, one that’s ideal for runners who know just what they want to focus on. Newer versions give you more control over notifications, letting you choose to see only selected push notifications. There are additional watch audio cues for custom workouts, race training plans, and running-for-exercise plans as well as improvements to trip syncing. You can now stream your heart rate from your watch to your phone while you’re running with your watch but carrying your phone.
Runtastic is the perfect app for those who like listening to audiobooks or podcasts while exercising. A feature called Story Running allows you to download stories for $1; each track is about 40 minutes, so it is timed perfectly for a good workout as doctors recommend you should aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise every day. The app also syncs with your exercise ring goals, and you can start any Runtastic activity directly on the Apple Watch. Runtastic offers a variety of premium memberships that give you access to advanced stats, nutrition information, and more, ad-free. Updates include joining the new Adidas Runners Global community so you can participate in live virtual training sessions with captains and coaches around the world. Now you can filter the challenge leaderboard by sport type. A new Fit from Home challenge helps you boost motivation while under quarantine. The app now includes 31 new sport types for your tracking pleasure.
Streaks is available for nearly every Apple device, whether you want to work out in front of your TV or quietly in the park. The app’s simple, rounded icons and basic choose-and-swipe controls make it ideal for the Apple Watch. Choose a type of workout based on how long and hard you want to exercise, and Streaks will cycle between several different activities with the number of reps you should be doing. Activities are timed and saved, too, so you can improve over time. However, some of the more complicated features, like exercise demonstrations, are intended for other devices. Updated versions improve workout syncing and show the currently playing song via the app music option, plus include the ability to control songs with explicit lyrics and to use your own images for custom exercises.
Gymaholic focuses on complex strength training that uses both 3D modeling techniques and augmented reality. While the images on the Apple Watch are tiny, the screen focuses on reps and sets over the modeling features, ensuring its usefulness no matter what sort of activities you’re engaging in. You can also edit your sets, track your heart rate, and add or remove exercises directly from the watch. You do need to have a pretty good handle on what moves are called, how you want to do them, and how you want to improve over time. This app is ideal for weightlifters and strength trainers who are interested in their gains more than anything else. Updated versions implement a new automatic system for saving and syncing data where your changes appear on all devices via iCloud. You can now select from more activities and decide how the workout gets saved to your Health app. The app also features new rest time and cardio notifications.
Gymatic offers a fun twist on traditional fitness apps. The inventive app automatically identifies the exercise at hand and starts tracking it so you know exactly how many reps you’ve done without ever needing to count in your head. You can also search for specific exercises or sports and put them together into customized workouts. The app also offers the ability to track your heart rate, rest and workout times, velocity, temperature, consistency, and more. Think of it as a milder alternative to Gymaholic, one well-suited for those who aren’t as obsessed with the details but still want a good, easy-to-use tracker.
Are you looking for a more lighthearted workout app that will help guilt you into exercising? Carrot Fit is entertaining enough to be worthwhile, but it can also help you start an active lifestyle with a series of smart workout choices. The app quickly moves between 30-second sets for 12 different exercises, helping break you into interval training and saving you as much time as possible. But the entertainment value comes from how the app sarcastically tracks your weight and provides timely insults, bribes, and even a little inspiration while you’re active. Rewards include fun cat facts, along with app upgrades, meaning there is some incentive to keep using the service.