At a virtual event last week, Apple made a number of announcements regarding its health and well-being offerings. Most notably, the global leader in consumer technologies announced Apple Fitness+, a diverse subscription platform of fitness videos designed to be used in conjunction with an Apple Watch and its activity-tracking functions. This official brings Apple into direct competition with rising stars in the home fitness market, such as Peloton and Mirror.

In addition to original workout content, the product differentiates itself with tight integration into the Apple Watch ecosystem. This integration is so tight that the solution cannot be used without an Apple Watch (Series 3 or newer).

Like many home fitness offerings, Apple Fitness+ delivers content from a diverse group of instructors, including athletes, dancers, yogis, martial artists, personal trainers, and more. The library of content will grow quickly as Apple commits to launching dozens of new videos each week. Although the product was likely in the works prior to the pandemic, the timing of the launch is great, as many individuals are reluctant to visit their local gyms and studios and are getting accustomed to working out from home.

The integrated Apple Watch features include the ability to start and stop videos from the device, and once the video is underway, the device will record data from the workout and display on the screen delivering the content. This will help users maintain target heart rates, measure calories burned, and more. The integration with the Apple Watch will also benefit users with improved class recommendations. Unlike most home fitness products, which recommend classes based on ones selected in the past, Apple Fitness+ will take workouts completed outside of the product into consideration when recommending classes. Users will also be able to import workout playlists from Apple Music.

The subscription service will debut later this year for $9.99 per month or $79.99 per year, though customers can get three months free with the purchase of a new Apple Watch.

Employee Wellness Program Ramifications

There are two big takeaways for companies from this announcement. First, more employees will continue to use an Apple Watch or another device to track their activity, and in order to support employees in making health decisions, wellness programs need to integrate with these technologies. Although a do-it-yourself program with spreadsheets is possible, the lack of technology integrations that promote ease-of-use will only result in a lack of engagement, which limits the impact of an employee wellness program.

Second, Apple is arguably the most influential and progressive consumer company in the world. When they enter markets, it means that the adoption of technologies and services in that market will increase substantially. Essentially, Apple Fitness+ is validation for the at-home fitness market, and employers should take notice. Even the CEO of Peloton, John Foley, said Apple Fitness+ was a legitimization of the space. This means employers should think about supporting employees with at-home fitness in their wellness programs. Similar to how some wellness programs offer gym reimbursements, employers can view offering on-demand fitness classes as a way to lower the barriers for employees to remain active, especially in the current environment.

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