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Apple Fitness Plus could match Peloton thanks to a big upgrade

Apple Fitness Plus Pilates
(Image credit: Apple)

I’m a huge Pilates fan — I’ve spent a week on an intense course in Thailand, I’ve dealt with the post-Solidcore-shake in New York and I’ve tried the Megaformer classes the likes of Meghan Markle swear by. In an attempt to build abs and run stronger, Pilates has been my go-to for years, but up until now, Peloton is the only platform that, in my opinion, has had a good range of classes for home workouts. 

That looks like it's changing in the wake of Apple's product event this Tuesday (Sept. 14) in which the company announced some updates to its Apple Fitness Plus platform. Later this month, starting Sept. 27, users will be able to tune in to guided meditations and get ready for the skiing season with some snow sports workouts. Later this fall, users will be able to work out with up to 32 friends when Apple's new SharePlay feature comes to FaceTime.

Yet the biggest update for me is the addition of weekly Pilates workouts to the platform, something Peloton added to its app this past April

The Apple Fitness Plus Pilates workouts will be taught by former professional dancer Marimba Gold-Watts and Darryl Whiting — a former professional athlete who brings an "athletic approach" to his Pilates workouts. Apple says both trainers will make Pilates accessible for all and, as with with all workouts on the platform, other members of the Fitness Plus team will be in the background offering more advanced, or modifications.  

Most of the Pilates workouts will only require an exercise mat, although some will use resistance bands for a more intense workout. The sessions will range from 10 to 30 minutes in length, and your progress can be tracked on your Apple Watch. 

Not only does this new low-impact form of exercise make the Apple Fitness Plus platform more inclusive, but it also has some serious benefits to your physical and mental health. While we’re yet to try the Pilates workouts, here’s what subscribers can gain from regular practice: 

Pilates improves core strength and function

While no exercise can promise you abs from the gods (how pronounced your abdominal muscles will depend on your body fat percentage), Pilates is a great way of improving core strength and function. Multiple studies have found that mat Pilates can be beneficial for building abdominal strength, which can, in turn, help improve your posture and manage conditions like back pain. 

Pilates can help reduce your risk of injury in other sports 

Whether you’re a runner, cyclist, or footballer, Pilates can help injury-proof your body. A number of studies have shown that from calf injuries to musculoskeletal injuries, Pilates can help protect the body. 

Pilates can decrease stress and boost your mood 

Similar to yoga, the practice of Pilates focuses on listening to the body and moving with the breath. Studies have shown that this inward focus can help lower cortisol levels in the body and in turn, reduce stress. The practice of Pilates has also been shown to boost the mood of the practitioner, as it can reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. 

Apple Fitness+

(Image credit: Apple)

Pilates can improve flexibility and mobility

While the two are often bundled together, flexibility refers to the amount of stretch in your muscles, and mobility is the range of motion in a joint. Both are important, but mobility is something we should all strive for. 

In order to increase your mobility, you need to work on your flexibility, but also your strength. Pilates ticks all three boxes; the stretching part helps your mobility, the strengthening part works on your strength, this, in turn, helps improve your mobility.   

Pilates is accessible to most Apple Fitness Plus subscribers

As a low-impact exercise, Pilates is brilliant for almost all Fitness Plus subscribers. It’s safe during pregnancy (although always check with your doctor beforehand) and for new moms post-birth. It’s great for athletes of all abilities when returning from injury and for those suffering from back pain. 

Through the addition of Pilates, Apple seems to be taking steps towards making its platform more accessible to all, and it’s a change I like to see. 

Apple Fitness Plus is available as a subscription service for $9.99 (US) per month or $79.99 (US) per year. 

Jane McGuire

Jane McGuire is Tom's Guide's Fitness editor, which means she looks after everything fitness related - from running gear to yoga mats. An avid runner, Jane has tested and reviewed fitness products for the past four years, so knows what to look for when finding a good running watch or a pair of shorts with pockets big enough for your smartphone. When she's not pounding the pavements, you'll find Jane striding round the Surrey Hills, taking far too many photos of her puppy.