With built-in heart-rate monitoring and movement analysis, the Apple Watch is an ideal fit for the fitness lifestyle. If you love tracking your exercises and meeting your goals, or you just want a little extra motivation, then you’ll probably want to download a few of the best fitness apps for the Apple Watch. Thankfully, we’ve rounded up a selection of our favorites, so you can spend less time perusing the App Store and more time hitting the treadmill (or browsing our roundup of the best Apple Watch apps).
For those who are new to the Apple Watch, check out our picks for the best Apple Watch faces and how to customize them. You can also read our review of the latest Apple Watch Series 3 to learn more about the most recent hardware version.
Strava was one of the first running apps that adapted to the Apple Watch in an organic way, allowing you to start, complete, and log a fitness session directly from your wrist. While recording, the app shows the distance you’ve traveled, how long you’ve run for, your average pace (in kilometers or miles per hour), and your current heart rate. In other words, it provides pretty much everything you need! When you’re finished, you can also save your session. Not running today? Strava also allows you to switch to a different sport if you want to record other activities. You can even explore challenges and run anywhere with the new virtual races feature.
Runkeeper is able to internally generate its own map using the watch GPS, which helps with tracking your location and progress and, after a period of “teaching,” doesn’t even require you to run with your iPhone. The app also comes with some nice customization features; the run screen shows the elapsed time at the top, but you can alter the middle and lower portions to show distance, current pace, average pace, average heart rate, and a slew of other metrics in whichever order you prefer. The ability to customize the run screen is a great feature we wish more fitness apps provided, one that’s ideal for runners who know just what they want to focus on.
Runtastic is the perfect app for those who like listening to audiobooks or podcasts while exercising. A feature called “Story Running” allows you to download stories for $1; each track is about 40 minutes, so it is timed perfectly for a good workout as doctors recommend you should aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise every day. The app will also sync with your exercise ring goals, and you can start any Runtastic activity directly on the Apple Watch. Runtastic offers a premium membership that costs $10 per month or $50 per year. The membership gives you access to advanced stats, no ads, nutrition information and more.
Streaks Workout ($3)
Streaks is available for nearly every Apple device, whether you want to work out in front of your TV or quietly in the park. Moreover, the app’s simple, rounded icons and basic choose-and-swipe controls make it ideal for the Apple Watch. Choose a type of workout based on how long and hard you want to exercise, and Streaks will cycle between several different activities with the number of reps you should be doing. Activities are timed and saved, too, so you can improve over time. However, some of the more complicated features, like exercise demonstrations, are intended for other devices.
Gymaholic focuses on complex strength training that uses both 3D modeling techniques and augmented reality. While the images on the Apple Watch are tiny, the screen focuses on reps and sets over the modeling features, ensuring it’s usefulness no matter what sort of activities you’re engaging in. You can also edit your sets, track your heart rate, and add or remove exercises directly from the Watch. However, you do need to have a pretty good handle on what moves are called, how you want to do them, and how you want to improve over time. This app is ideal for weightlifters and strength trainers who are interested in their gains more than anything else.
Gymatic offers a fun twist on traditional fitness apps. The inventive app automatically identifies the exercise at hand and starts tracking it so you know exactly how many reps you’ve done without ever needing to count in your head (you can also search for specific exercises or sports and put them together into customized workouts). The app also offers the ability to track your heart rate, rest and workout times, velocity, temperature, consistency, and more. Think of it as a milder alternative to Gymaholic, one well-suited for those who aren’t as obsessed with the details but still want a good, easy-to-use tracker.
Carrot Fit ($4)
Are you looking for a more lighthearted workout app that will help guilt you into exercising? Carrot fit is entertaining enough to be worthwhile, but it can also help you start an active lifestyle with a series of smart workout choices. The app quickly moves between 30-second sets for 12 different exercises, helping break you into interval training and saving you as much time as possible. But the entertainment value comes from how the app sarcastically tracks your weight and provides timely insults, bribes, and even a little inspiration while you’re active. Rewards include fun cat facts, along with app upgrades, meaning there is some incentive to keep using the service.
Update: We’ve added Runtastic.