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Tackling my lockdown weight gain with Apple Fitness Plus

I've gained a lot of weight over lockdown. Now I'm turning to technology to help.

Me, on the Wattbike Atom during week one of my new fitness regime.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

I've been slowly gaining weight for the last few years, but that's been accelerated by the coronavirus lockdown. It's time to make a change, and I'm hoping Apple Fitness Plus will be the gym replacement I need to help me get back in shape. 

I knew I'd put on weight throughout 2020. I drank more beer, ate more "comfort food" and more chocolate, and had more meals delivered to my house from local restaurants I couldn't visit in person. It was fine, I argued, because it kept me (and my partner) happy at a time when finding little moments of happiness was important.  

That was coupled with less exercise, as the gyms were closed (not that I've ever been much of a gym lover) and I found myself going outside less often for exercise due to a combination of avoiding unnecessary proximity to others and, eventually, a general lack of motivation. I've been a bit overweight for most of the last few years to be honest, but 2020 has taken that to a level I'm extremely unhappy about. This isn't easy to write, but I'm at a stage now where I really need to make a change, rather than simply wanting to. 

Video: Apple Fitness Plus vs. Peloton

The weigh-in

I weighed in on Monday, Jan. 4, at 105 kilograms (around 231 pounds). I'm 6 feet, 2 inches tall, so I'm a pretty big guy regardless, but according to the UK's NHS website, my ideal weight should be somewhere between 70 to 85 kilograms (154-187 pounds). My BMI (body mass index) is 29.7 -- A BMI of 30 or above qualifies as obese, so I'm right on that threshold. In short, I have a lot of work to do.  

With personal training sessions off the table, I'm turning instead to technology. Specifically, Apple's recently launched Fitness Plus service, which provides a wide variety of workouts designed to mimic as close as possible the experience of working with a trainer -- or as part of a class -- in a gym.  

An iPad on a box isn't exactly the most luxurious of workout solutions, but it works just fine as part of my home setup.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

I've borrowed an indoor static bike -- a competition-standard Wattbike Atom -- which doesn't have its own display but does have a mount for my iPad. I'll use that to attend virtual cycle classes on Apple Fitness Plus as well as with Zwift (an iPad app that connects to my bike over Bluetooth to let me cycle through virtual worlds alone or in groups). I've installed the bike in a small room in my house, which has just about enough floor space to let me do Apple Fitness Plus floor workouts, including yoga sessions and workouts for overall strength and core strength.  

I'll mostly be watching the classes on my iPad Pro, and I'll also be using the most recent Apple Watch Series 6 (an Apple Watch is required for using Fitness Plus). A Fitness Plus subscription costs $9.99 (£9.99) per month, and Zwift is $14.99 (£12.99) per month, but even paying for both is still a lot less than even the most basic monthly gym membership. 

I'll still be doing brisk outdoor walks (I despise running) and even some outdoor cycling as and when I can, but I live in Scotland, and throughout winter that means few daylight hours as well as weather conditions that don't exactly welcome outdoor exercise. The UK has also just gone back into full lockdown (at the time of writing), due to rising cases of COVID-19, so I'm trying to limit my time outdoors. 

Fitness goals

My goal here is to lose weight, look better and feel better. I want to be healthy. I want to be able to wear clothes I already own and have them look like they fit. I'd like to treat myself to something new and feel good and confident about my appearance again. But alongside that, I hope to be able to give some real insight into what Apple Fitness Plus is like to work with for people who are new to fitness and weight loss and who may be put off by the sometimes intimidating language and imagery used by many fitness services. 

My first dance workout! My first of many, I hope. 

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Of course I can't expect Apple to do everything for me. I'm also starting a new eating plan, one that cuts out much of the sugary, fatty stuff that's got me where I am right now. I'm not trying to shift the burden of responsibility here -- sticking to the plan is on me, not on Apple, Zwift, Wattbike or any other product or service I use, and I know it's going to take a hell of a lot more commitment than I've shown in recent years.  

The question I'll be trying to answer here on CNET is how much these products encourage that commitment, how welcoming Apple Fitness Plus is to newbies, how easy it is to find the right classes and how intimidating the impossibly healthy looking trainers in the app are.

This is the absolute start of my journey, and I'll update this page over the coming weeks and months as I get to grips with the new hobby I've taken on and see whether Apple Fitness Plus can be the ally I need in getting my weight, and my life, back under control.  

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

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