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Stay in shape while you’re stuck indoors with Apple TV fitness apps

You don’t need to go to the gym for a great workout. If you’re stuck at home during the coronavirus outbreak, you can still work on your summer beach bod. If you’re itching to exercise indoors, you can get started — and maximize your gains — using Apple TV fitness apps.

Ever since Jane Fonda pulled on a leotard and leg warmers in the 1980s, people have been getting sweaty in front of their televisions. Now, Apple TV fitness apps bring home workouts bang up-to-date, with interactive programs tailored to users’ individual abilities and goals.

So what are you waiting for? Let’s make like Jane and feel the burn.

Cupertino’s secret fitness gadget

When you think about Apple and fitness, the first thing that probably springs to mind is Apple Watch. So you might be surprised to discover that Apple has another emerging fitness platform. There’s more to the Apple TV than Netflix and Crossy Road. Cupertino’s set-top-box has also carved out a niche for itself as a solid platform for fitness apps.

There are loads of great Apple TV fitness apps to choose from, including some from big names like Adidas. There are even rumors Apple has its own fitness offering in the works. But there’s no need to wait for that. With so many of us currently stuck at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, now’s the perfect time to grab the Apple TV remote and start a workout.

Apple TV fitness apps can’t connect to Apple Watch … yet

Currently, the biggest drawback with Apple TV fitness apps is that, unlike iPhone apps, they can’t connect with your Apple Watch. This means they don’t record your heart rate or log your workout to Apple’s Activity app.

Hopefully, Apple will solve this major drawback in watchOS 7 and tvOS 14. But in the meantime, the best workaround is to use both. TV apps show you how to do the exercises while the Apple Watch’s Workout app logs what you’re doing. Just select an appropriate workout option on your watch like Mixed Cardio, Core Training or Strength Training.

4 great Apple TV fitness apps

Adidas Training is brilliantly adapted for Apple TV.
Adidas Training is brilliantly adapted for Apple TV.
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

1. Adidas Training – brilliantly adapted for Apple TV

Adidas Training is one of my favorite Apple TV fitness apps. All the best features from the iPhone app are included, but with a user interface that’s been brilliantly adapted for the TV screen.

Formerly known as Runtastic Results, this app features a wide range of strength and conditioning workouts. Like its iPhone counterpart, it offers 30 preprogrammed workouts to choose from, based on a built-in database of 190 exercises. For every exercise there’s a clear, well-produced video demonstration by a seriously buff shirtless dude.

You can try a couple of workouts for free. But if you get serious about using this app, you’ll want to subscribe to unlock them all. If you’re already a premium subscriber of Runtastic (the Adidas running app), Adidas Training is included. Otherwise, an annual subscription costs $49.99 and includes both iPhone and Apple TV apps.

Download: Adidas Training – Free, with 12-month subscription for $49.99

Asana Rebel offers a sumptuous range of workout videos.
Asana Rebel offers a sumptuous range of workout videos.
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

2. Asana Rebel – ideal for serious yoga practitioners

Asana is an ancient Sanskrit word meaning body posture. It’s used in yoga to refer to the different positions you adopt during practice. As the name Asana Rebel suggests, this is an app for people who are pretty seriously into their yoga.

Most Apple TV fitness apps feature a library of exercises with a video for each one. These video clips are then combined together in different sequences to create workouts. But as you might expect, Asana Rebel takes a more rebellious approach.

Instead of short video clips for each individual exercise, Asana Rebel features long, continuous videos of entire workouts. This makes sense for yoga, because the sequence you do the asanas in, and the way you transition between them, is important.

The videos are beautifully produced, often in front of sumptuous outdoor backdrops and with relaxing music. Workouts are categorized based on different ability levels, goals and how much time you have. There’s even “Yoga for Men” — although gender doesn’t really matter in yoga. It’s for everyone.

If you have at least a basic knowledge of yoga, Asana Rebel looks like a great home workout option. But in my opinion, this is not one for beginners.

Download: Asana Rebel – Free, with 12-month subscription for $58.99

Streaks Workout boasts a unique and icon user interface design.
Streaks Workout boasts a unique user interface design.
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

3. Streaks Workout – a workout app graphic designers will love

Streaks Workout is created by the team behind the award-winning iOS habit-tracking app Streaks. By taking the distinctive design style of Streaks and applying it to an Apple TV fitness app, they’ve created something truly unique.

You won’t find any videos of shirtless musclemen here. Instead, all the exercises are illustrated in a graphic style reminiscent of the US Department of Transportation’s classic pictograms (sometimes referred to as “Helvetica Man”). Seeing the little stickman dude animated like this reminds me of the title sequence of the TV show Chuck.

Streaks Workouts includes a total of 30 exercises, all of which you can do at home without any special equipment. All you need to do is specify your workout duration and the app will randomly pick an appropriate selection of exercises for you.

Streaks Workout is also available for iPhone and Apple Watch. Although the watch app can’t communicate with the TV app, you can at least use it to log your workout. That way you get a Streaks Workout icon in the Activity app’s workout log, to remind you which app you used.

Download: Streaks Workout – $3.99 download

Nike Training Club looks great on the big screen.
Nike Training Club looks great on the big screen.
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

4. Nike Training Club – using iPhone fitness apps on the big screen with AirPlay

Nike Training Club is one of the best fitness apps for iPhone. Sadly, it still has not been adapted for Apple TV. That’s crazy, in my opinion, because it would make such an awesome TV app.

Still, all is not lost. The NTC app has an excellent landscape mode, which means it looks great on the big screen, thanks to AirPlay.

Nike even encourages its users to use AirPlay during workouts. But the instructions it provides in the app are hopelessly out of date. For the record, if you want to start AirPlay during a workout, just swipe down from the top-right hand corner of your iPhone X or above. Then tap Screen Mirroring and select your Apple TV.

One big advantage of using an iPhone app and sending it to the big screen with AirPlay is that it integrates with Apple Watch. So you get a buzz notification on your wrist when it’s time to switch exercises.

To find out more, check out my mini review of Nike Training Club.

Download: Nike Training Club – Free, with premium option at $119.99 for 12 months (premium is currently U.S.-only)

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