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Apple Fitness Plus vs. Peloton: Which streaming workout service is better?

Here's how Apple's new streaming workout service stacks up against its closest rival.

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If you like working out with an Apple Watch, but wish it offered more exercise guidance, you're getting your wish this year. Announced on Tuesday, Apple Fitness Plus is a monthly service that gives you unlimited access to workout classes spanning the most popular genres, from HIIT to yoga and rowing to cycling. It connects to your Apple Watch to record your heart rate, pace and calories burned during your class, and show you those metrics in real time on whatever screen you use to follow the workout.

Fitness Plus puts Apple in direct competition with many other workout streaming services, such as Peloton, Daily Burn and Glo, which provide a variety of on-demand video fitness classes. While none of those connect directly to an Apple Watch to show you real-time stats on the screen, many will connect to a heart-rate monitor to show your heart rate during your workout.

Given its popularity, Peloton's fitness streaming service is perhaps Fitness Plus's biggest competitor. Peloton tweeted the day that Apple announced Fitness Plus, "Friendly competition is in our DNA. Welcome to the world of digital fitness, Apple," which depending on how you interpret it, could be snarky or genuine. Either way, Peloton seems to acknowledge that Apple is coming after at least some of its business.

So how does Apple Fitness Plus stack up against Peloton? Let's break it down. 

Bear in mind that Apple Fitness Plus isn't yet available, so we don't know all of the ins and outs of how it works. Once I get to test it, I'll update this story with hands-on info.

Apple Fitness Plus offers on-demand video workout classes with a direct tie-in to the Apple Watch. You can pick from a variety of types of exercise, including high-intensity interval training, yoga, cycling and dance. You can watch the videos, created by a team of dedicated fitness trainers, with a forthcoming app for the Apple TV and iOS.

Once you start a class, your Apple Watch will sync your workout metrics, including heart rate and calories burned, to Fitness Plus. You'll be able to see those stats on the screen in real time. During some workouts, you'll get onscreen cues to ramp up your pace or heart rate to push yourself, plus verbal cues from the trainer to motivate you.

As you use the service, Apple says, it will offer recommendations for new classes and trainers to try, to prevent you from getting bored or overtraining a part of your body. Also, there's a filtering tool to help you select workouts based on what's important to you -- the trainer, the music or how much time you have to exercise.

Since the service doesn't connect with any specific workout machines, you can use the workouts at home or at the gym with whatever equipment is available. Given the wide variety of workout types, I expect that there will be plenty of workout classes that don't require equipment at all.

Another perk is that if you have an Apple Music subscription, you can save and download the music playlist used in any of your workout classes, without the audio from the instructor.

The service will be available by the end of the year, according to Apple. If you buy a new Apple Watch, you'll get a free three-month trial. By the way, you'll need an Apple Watch Series 3 or newer and either an iPhone, iPad or Apple TV to use Fitness Plus.

Workout categories: HIIT, yoga, cycling, treadmill running, treadmill walking, dance, core, strength, rowing and mindful cool down.

Cost: $9.99 per month, or $80 per year

With Apple One, you can bundle Fitness Plus with Apple Music, TV Plus, Arcade, 2 terabytes of storage in iCloud and News Plus for $30 per month.

Who should use this: If you love your Apple Watch and have been tracking every workout with it since the day you got it, this will just add to the experience. It's also a good choice if you bought an Apple Watch to improve your health and fitness, but don't really know where to start, because Fitness Plus will have plenty of videos for beginners.

Peloton

While Peloton's claim to fame is its high-end spin bike and treadmill, the company offers a workout class streaming service that anyone can use, sans bike or treadmill. It features live and on-demand exercise classes, some that require equipment, some that don't. You also get audio-only guided running workouts with GPS mapping that you can use on runs outdoors. 

The Peloton app, which is your portal to the workout class, is available for iOS, Android, Roku and Amazon streaming devices. You can use the Peloton Apple Watch app to track your heart rate, pace and workout duration during a workout, and save that data to the Apple Health app. 

Beyond workout classes, there are a few extra features with Peloton. You can participate in challenges to motivate yourself and earn achievements -- the Apple Watch's Workout app has something similar. You can also look at detailed reports of your workout metrics to help you improve your performance. 

Workout categories: Treadmill running, outdoor running, HIIT, cycling, strength, yoga, walking, stretching, cardio bootcamp and meditation.

Cost: $12.99 per month with a free 30-day trial, or included with the purchase of a Peloton Bike or Treadmill

Who should use this: Given its robust catalog of workout classes, Peloton is a solid choice for anyone, especially because it's available on so many platforms. At $13 per month, it's only a little more expensive than Fitness Plus, but you're not required to buy a smartwatch to use it.

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.