KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 17 — A surprise announcement during the recent Apple Event was that its fitness streaming subscription service Fitness+ is being expanded to a few countries, one of them being Malaysia.
Fifteen countries were announced in the expanded rollout and the other 14 to be getting Fitness+ are Austria, Brazil, Colombia, France, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, Portugal, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Arab Emirates.
What's a little odd is that Singapore is not on the list, which is unusual considering its presence in the country and its partnership with the government in the LumiHealth initiative.
It is already available in the United States, Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.
What is it, actually?
Fitness+ is a subscription service that offers a variety of pre-recorded workouts that can be accessed on-demand.
It's very much targeted at existing customers in the Apple ecosystem as you need an Apple device such as an iPhone, iPad or Apple TV for it to work.
While you can use the app on the iPhone or iPad without an Apple Watch, you need the smartwatch to use the service on the Apple TV+.
A workaround to that would be to cast from the iPhone or iPad to a smart TV that supports AirPlay.
For the optimal experience you should use Fitness+ with the Watch as you then will be able to see your heart rate and have your workouts automatically recorded to your Health app.
You will even get on-screen acknowledgement whenever you close your Apple fitness rings while doing a Fitness+ workout.
Treadmill as well as exercise bike workouts are also available in the app, so it also caters to those who prefer working out in their own home gym.
Recently Apple announced it was making changes to its Breathe app, folding it into a new Mindfulness app that would have two sections: Reflect and Breathe.
Apple also added two new Workout types, Pilates and Tai Chi to watchOS 8.
This synergises well with Fitness+'s new workout option: Pilates.
Fitness+ subscribers will have Pilates workout choices that can be done on a mat, no machines required, though some of the workouts will need flat resistance bands.
Along with the new workouts comes two new Fitness+ trainers Marimba Gold-Watts and Darryl Whiting who will bring their experience and expertise to the table.
With Mindful Cooldowns proving a hit with Fitness+ users, Apple has now expanded on their mindfulness offerings with new guided meditations.
There will be nine guided themes of five-, 10- and 20 minute-long sessions that come with a video experience.
An audio version of the meditations will also be uploaded each week to the Mindfulness app on Apple Watch so users can have access to them whenever they want, by listening to them with AirPods or other Bluetooth headphones.
What might not be as interesting to Malaysians is perhaps the new Snowboarding and Skiing workouts, made to prepare users for winter sports but they might be a fun option just for general conditioning.
Fitness+ will also support working out in groups, where you can work out with up to 32 friends at a time... provided they all have Fitness+ subscriptions of course.
You won't see 32 people on the screen of your Apple TV at a time, instead you will be able to sync up your workouts so besides your own metrics, you'll also see little indicators on screen to tell you when one of your friends closed an exercise ring or hit other fitness milestones.
When can we sign up?
No pricing details or fixed date has been set yet. Following Apple's track record, Fitness+ is likely to be offered as a separate service with a set fee and perhaps Apple One Premier, that bundles Fitness+ alongside other services such as Music and TV+ might finally be made available here.
All we know so far is that we can expect the service to go “live” in the 15 new countries by Fall, which means anytime from now until November.
If you're already an active user of Apple's Health platform, an Apple Watch user and looking for a convenient way to access workouts wherever you are, Fitness+ is an attractive option.
There will also likely be a free trial option so you will have, perhaps, a month to decide if shelling out extra for Fitness+ is worth the extra ringgit.