So you finally got one. An Apple Watch. Now the next thing is… how to use it?
The Apple watch can do so many cool things that it’s hard to know where to even begin when it comes to setting it up for your workouts. What buttons do you press, what does what, what does that beep mean, why does it keep beeping!?
You may have figured out a few things but let’s see if we can’t help you out further.
Below we cover a few of the basic settings to get the most out of your Apple watch when it comes to your workouts.
Basics of using the Apple Watch Activity app:
With the Activity app on your Apple Watch, you can track how much you move, exercise, and stand from day to day.
1. Track your Activity
To get started, open the app on your Apple Watch and enter some information about yourself. Your Apple Watch lets you know when you reach your goals and it offers suggestions and encouragement to help you close your rings. Learn how to complete each ring below:
The Move ring shows how many active calories you’ve burned so far. Complete your daily Move goal by burning active calories every day. Active calories, unlike resting, are ones that you burn by standing or moving around. Get help earning Move and Exercise credit.
Here’s how to change your move goal:
- Open the Activity app on your Apple Watch.
- Go to your rings, then firmly press the screen.
- Tap to increase or decrease the number of active calories for your daily Move goal.
- When you’re done, tap Update.
You can change the Move goal, but not your Exercise or Stand goals.
The Exercise ring shows how many minutes of brisk activity you’ve completed so far. Complete your daily Exercise goal by exercising for at least 30 minutes each day. You can’t change your Exercise goal, but you can change your Move goal.
Learn how to meet your exercise goal and use the Workout Tab to log exercise.
The Stand ring shows hours in which you’ve stood and moved for at least a minute. Complete your daily Stand goal by standing up and moving around for at least 1 minute during 12 different hours in the day. Even if you stand all day, you still need to move around.
If you specify that you use a wheelchair, the Stand ring switches to the Roll ring. Roll shows hours in which you’ve pushed around for at least 1 minute.
You can’t change your Stand or Roll goal, but you can change your Move goal.
5. Check your Activity history
You can check your progress for the day on your Apple Watch, or check your entire history from the Activity app on your iPhone.
On your Phone
- Open the Activity app on your iPhone.
- Tap the History tab to see details about your all-day activity. On the calendar, a green dot appears next to the days that you worked out.
- To see more detail, tap a day.
- To get information about a workout, such as your route or total distance, tap the Workouts tab, then tap the item.
On your Apple Watch
- Open the Activity app on your Apple Watch.
- Swipe up to see details for each ring.
- Swipe up again to see more, like your total steps, your distance, and workouts.
- To see your weekly summary, firmly press the screen, then tap Weekly Summary.
6. Set reminders
- Open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone.
- Tap the My Watch tab, then tap Activity.
- Choose your notifications and reminders. For example, coaching notifications are based on your previous progress.
Free Health and Fitness Apps for Apple Watch
In addition to internal tracking options, Apple Watch offers a selection of downloadable apps that can keep tabs on everything from sleep patterns, nutrition information, work out logs, and more. Below are a few of our favorite free apps:
Think you’re eating healthily but still piling on weight? Well, there’s an app that can help pinpoint where you’re going wrong. My Fitness Pal is super easy to use: simply pop in the meals you’ve eaten throughout the day and it will work out the calories and macros against your daily target (calculated from your goal weight) and tell you how much you have left. It’s great for giving you a sense of which foods have high-calorie content and what foods don’t, which helps you to manage weight in the long run.
MFP boasts one of the largest food databases, with over 1 million different individual food items.
Strava pairs well with many GPS based devices, but it’s also a solid app for fitness trackers as well.
It is best used for tracking, guiding, and analyzing running/cycling. Strava will also keep a detailed map of where you travel and will allow you to compare your stats with past runs or the runs of others. To track your power data if you’re a cyclist, and pace and heart rate analysis if you’re a runner, you’ll need to purchase the premium version of the app.
The premium version also offers a “sufferer score” which lets you know exactly how hard you’re working, and a fitness and freshness portion, which is great for someone who uses a power meter. It will tell you when you are at your peak proficiency so you can better gauge your overall performance level. Their GPX download function allows you to see what others have done in your area and download their exact routes for motivation.
Mapmyrun is pretty much the standard of running apps. It’s great for tracking and creating your own routes, and has many standard features like training logs and group encouragement. However, where the app really shines is its built-in routes, which are an aggregate of everyone else who has used the app and will allow you to choose a route that is in your general location. The web-based interface also allows you to add your own.
Keep: Fitness & Workout Trainer
Keep is an “anywhere, anytime” personal training style app with a variety of built-in workouts that will keep you on the move-at home or in the gym. Essentially, the app is like a training DVD but more interactive. You follow the on-screen trainer through a series of workouts with voice guidance, detailed descriptions, animations, and professional video guidance. The app promises to develop a dedicated personal plan for you based on your individual goals and routine and caters to all levels from athlete to beginner. As an added bonus, Keep is Apple TV app supported.
At its core, Lose It! is a weight loss app. But it can do much more than simply count calories; the emphasis seems to be about total wellness, as the app can keep track of your sleep, Exercise, BMI, and macronutrient intake.
The app also features a challenge mode which basically allows you to compete with other people for how many pounds you want to shave off. Like MyFitnessPal, you can simply scan a bar code on any food product and it will upload it into your food log. The app also offers the option of taking a picture of food items to log, making it super simple to add meals. Additionally, the calories your Apple Watch records will sync up with Lose it! to give you a better idea of your overall progress.
This app is a good pick for any dedicated fitness fanatic. The app has over 40 built-in activities that range from badminton all the way to ice skating. Track, log, and analyze your workouts using GPS (outdoors), audio feedback on distance and pace/speed for every mile/km, and detailed workout summaries. Endomodo also connects with My Fitness Pal for calorie and nutrition information, Apple’s Health app to share workout data, and Relive app to create 3D videos of your workout to share with friends.
Sleep++ grabs all the vital sleep info from you while you’re snoozing. By tracking motion and sound, it’s able to figure out how restless you are during your slumber – and when. Once you’re asleep, the app will instantly analyze the night’s sleep and tell you how good or bad it was – telling you what times you stirred, allowing you to have a better stab at figuring out the problem.
If you’re into your weight lifting and have a hard time keeping track of your routines, sets and rep range, SmartGym is a great resistance training programming tool to help with that.
Mimicking the format of a training schedule that real personal trainer would use, the app keeps all your records in one place ensuring routines, history, and even body measurements are kept track of, and thus replacing the need to take your notepad to the gym floor.
This Apple Watch version of the app means you can leave your phone in the gym locker while you work out. Create and manage all your routines, use a custom timer for each specific exercise, keep track of your training history and progress, and utilize the over 240 pre-installed exercises with images and animations for guidance, then check off which ones were performed to add them to your routine history. Synched with your Apple Watch, this app will keep track of your heart rate, distance, and calories burned and count towards your activity rings. You can use Siri to start your workouts and modify your exercises right from the watch. This is also a great tool for trainers and clients to manage programs by seamlessly sharing data.
Yoga | Down Dog
With over 30,000 different yoga configurations, you will get a brand new yoga practice every time you use this app. There’s a 3-day intro to yoga, making it extremely beginner friendly and you can customize your experience by choosing between different yoga teachers and dynamic changing music that rises and falls with your breathing. Download a practice to use offline and take your yoga anywhere you go. There is also a boost feature that allows you to add on to your routine to focus on different areas like strengthening your back, flexibility, aerobic, balance and more.
Gymaholic (Apple Watch Only)
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 it’s 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. However, 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.
Gymatic (Apple Watch Only)
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.
Now more than ever we have the ability to easily and effectively keep track of our lifestyle and pinpoint which areas need improving-all at our wrist’s reach. While the Apple Watch is pretty freaking awesome and does make the journey quite a bit easier, unfortunately, it still won’t do the work for you. It will, however, chart your path and may just provide the added motivation, organization and direction you’ve been needing to achieve your #goals.
In Health and Awesomeness,
Travis Merritt, BS, CPT, (and other letters behind the name) is the Owner of Rowlett Transformation Center in Rowlett, TX.
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