Apple's new celebrity-guided walking tours on Fitness Plus are Watch-only immersive podcasts

Dolly Parton and Draymond Green are among the stars who talk to you while they walk with you.

Scott Stein Editor at Large
I started with CNET reviewing laptops in 2009. Now I explore wearable tech, VR/AR, tablets, gaming and future/emerging trends in our changing world. Other obsessions include magic, immersive theater, puzzles, board games, cooking, improv and the New York Jets. My background includes an MFA in theater which I apply to thinking about immersive experiences of the future.
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Scott Stein
2 min read

Time to Walk is aimed at delivering meditative walking experiences for Fitness Plus and Apple Watch owners.


Apple's subscription-based Fitness Plus service launched towards the end of last year, and it's already got an update that aims more for meditative walks than intense workouts. Also, it's Apple Watch-only.

Time to Walk is a series of audio experiences voiced by celebrities that are meant to be listened to while walking, like podcasts for gentle strolls. The first series of four episodes launched Monday, with country legend Dolly Parton, NBA champion Draymond Green, musician Shawn Mendes and Orange Is the New Black star Uzo Aduba. New celebrity episodes will pop up once a week through April. Apple hasn't yet made a commitment as to how long the series will continue after that.

"I've loved walking ever since I was a little girl in the Smoky Mountains," Parton says in Apple's announcement. "I think it's so important to be able to get out and walk if we can during this time. I do my best thinking when I walk."

The idea sounds like a hybrid of the meditative podcasts and experiences that already exist, and location-based audio "podplays" that send listeners on an immersive audio experience, walking while listening with headphones. Each of the Time to Walk experiences involves a celebrity who's also walking somewhere. The episodes, which get synced to the Apple Watch's Workouts app, can be stored up to five at a time for offline playing (provided you have Bluetooth headphones to use with the Apple Watch). The episodes run around half an hour each, and also have photos that pop up occasionally on-watch that match parts of the story being told.

"I hope people get to feel the same sense of calm I do while walking and can bring that to their own experiences," says Mendes.

Read moreOne week with Apple Fitness Plus: Beating my lockdown weight gain

The Time to Walk experiences won't play on iPhones, though: Unlike Apple's Fitness Plus workouts, which also require an Apple Watch for fitness tracking but use the Apple TV, iPad or iPhone to show videos, these run entirely on the Apple Watch. While walking, fitness data like heart rate and pace is recorded, too. There is also a Time to Push mode that works with wheelchairs.

The idea of Time to Walk originated before last spring's COVID-19 shutdowns that still keep many people at home, but it also seems like an invitation to explore similar ideas in a wider range of podcasts, or location-based immersive audio experiences. It's unclear whether Apple will expand its ambitions on this new feature that far, but I'm curious to try walking with it and see where the episodes take me.

Watch this: Apple Fitness Plus: A workout plan built around your Apple Watch
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.