There are two features the Apple Watch is better at than other exercise watches: fitness tracking and notifications. And if you’ve got an iPhone, an Apple Watch can be your best fitness pal. Thanks to the built-in GPS, two-day battery life, you can have your personal fitness trainer right on your wrist.
The Apple Watch can help you lose weight, work out, or just stay healthy. Every day, you’ll be able to see how many calories you burned and how much exercise you got. The more data Apple Watch collects, the more insight you’ll have on your behavior. And you’ll be better off on your journey towards better health.
Here are some must-have apps for any Apple Watch owner interested in fitness, health, and working out.
The Activity app on Apple Watch is the central part of your fitness journey. It’s responsible for your three activity rings, which help you reach your Move, Exercise, and Stand goals. And those rings from Activity will show up everywhere, from helpful notifications during the day to your favorite Apple Watch face.
When you open the Activity app, you’ll first see the three rings. Scroll down and you’ll find stats like your steps for the day, how much you’ve walked, your workouts, and calories burned.
The Activity app on the Watch is limited to the day’s activity. Open the Activity app on your iPhone and you can see stats for any day you want. Plus, you’ll get a detailed breakdown of every workout that you’ve done so far.
There are a plethora of awesome workout apps for the Apple Watch, and we’ll talk about some of them below. But none of them can beat Apple’s default Workouts app when it comes to sheer functionality and ease of use.
Launch the Workouts app and swipe through to see the types of workouts supported. Depending on your Apple Watch and watchOS version, you’ll see activities like walking, running, swimming, high-intensity workouts, cycling, and a lot more.
The Workouts app supports indoor activities too, which makes the Apple Watch the perfect gym companion. You can track your elliptical workouts or rower workouts. Or if you’re sweating it out doing a lot of different activities, just select the Other workout type. Your Apple Watch will then track the calories burned based on your movement and heart rate.
When you’re tracking a workout, you can swipe right for more options and swipe left to control music. Speaking of which, make sure you have some solid sport headphones to listen to your tunes.
3. Nike+ Run Club
Nike+ Run Club calls itself the perfect running partner, and this is one of the few times where a tagline is actually true. The Nike+ Run Club app has everything you need when you’re out on your run. You can start by setting a goal, or try a guided audio workout. The app will track your pace, distance, time, and heartbeat in real time.
The best aspect about NRC is the helpful community. You can take part in weekly and monthly challenges, unlock achievements, compete with leaderboards, and cheer your friends as they’re on the run.
Download: Nike+ Run Club (Free)
After you’ve used the Workouts app a few times, you’ll start seeing its limitations. There’s no way to customize the stats screen and no way to look at performance graphs. Workouts++ is your answer.
The app has an efficiently designed workouts screen, which provides six stats. You can choose to add the metrics that you care about and leave out the rest.
My favorite part of using Workouts++ is the BPM graph. And since it supports Siri, you can say “start indoor cycling workout in Workouts++” to jump directly to the workout screen.
Download: Workouts++ (Free)
Strava is the best app for runners and cyclists. The app’s interface is minimal and to the point, while the community helps you achieve your goals and keeps you motivated. Starva has brought the same design philosophy to its Apple Watch app.
The Apple Watch app runs natively and has GPS support. Its real-time display shows you the important stats: split, time, distance, and your heart rate. If you’re using the Apple Watch Series 2 and above, you can record workouts without your iPhone as well. Once you’re back in range, they’ll sync with your Strava profile automatically.
Download: Strava (Free, subscription available)
Strava’s stark minimalism might not be for everyone. And perhaps you’re not looking for a community of runners and cyclists. Maybe you just want a feature-rich, dependable app for tracking your runs. That’s what Runkeeper does best.
Download: Runkeeper (Free, subscription available)
7. Streaks Workout
Streaks Workout is a minimal workout app that lets you work out anywhere. All you need is your Apple Watch on your wrist and you’re ready to go.
You get to choose from 30 equipment-free workouts. Start with Quick, graduate to the Everyday workout, and hopefully make your way towards the Pain workout.
The app will show animations of the exercises, along with a countdown and your heart rate. You’ll also get tips on how to improve your technique and posture. Once you’re done, your stats save to the Health app so you get the sweet exercise points towards your day’s ring.
Download: Streaks Workout ($4)
Instead of paying for a personal trainer, let Gymaholic help you out in the gym. Its iPhone app uses AR to show you exercises in real time. Meanwhile, the Apple Watch app will tell you the exercises to do, how to do them, and for how long. It holds a catalog of more than 360 exercises.
From the Apple Watch, you can select a part of the body you want to work on, (say, your chest). The app will then list out the exercises to do, the recommended repetitions, and weight.
Download: Gymaholic (Free, subscription available)
Apple’s Activity app focuses on calories burned, not steps. But the Apple Watch does record your steps. If you go all the way down in the Activity app, you’ll find your step count.
What if you want to know your step count all the time? If you’re trying to hit your daily 10,000 steps, Pedometer++ can help.
It’s a simple utility which records your steps and presents it as a watch face complication. Add it to your favorite watch face and then along with your Activity progress, you’ll be able to see your steps as well.
Download: Pedometer++ (Free)
MyFitnessPal is the best food tracking app for iPhone. If you’re trying to lose weight by calorie counting or just want to know how much nutrition you’re getting in a day, MyFitnessPal’s Apple Watch companion app will make it slightly easier for you.
The app will quickly show your nutrition facts for the day. This includes how many calories you’ve consumed, your carbohydrate and protein intake, and similar.
Download: MyFitnessPal (Free, subscription available)
There’s a Lot More to the Apple Watch
Once you’ve started using the Apple Watch, you’ll realize just how much this little computer on your wrist can do. With Siri alone, you can control your smart home devices, send messages, or add reminders.
But you can also use your Apple Watch to unlock your Mac, pay with Apple Pay, manage your email inbox, stay updated with your calendar, and a lot more. Check out the best Apple Watch apps and these cool Apple Watch games. You might also take a look at other fitness trackers with heart rate monitoring if you want a different option.