Andrew Hoyle / CNET
At the beginning of January I have started a new exercise program at home based on Apple Fitness Plus and the Zwift bike app with a static Wattbike Atom. Weeks later I lost noticeable weight, learned a lot about how to exercise, and most importantly, really enjoyed the process.
I started my journey weighing about 150 pounds. You can read in my intro article about how it made me borderline obese, why I had to make some significant changes, and Some of the problems I found in a week. And changes that I actually made. I am happy to say that since I started my new healthier lifestyle, my weight has dropped significantly to 93 kilograms.
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I’m still overweight based on the UK NHS Healthy Weight Calculatorand ideally I need to lose at least another 10 kilograms to be in a healthy zone, but I’m proud of the progress I’ve made so far. The best thing for me, however, is how much I enjoyed everything.
Create a fun workout routine
I’ve put together a program that includes different exercises for each day of the week. Mondays typically include a 10-minute core strength session, while Thursdays can be a longer upper body strength class followed by a dance class. It shakes and keeps things interesting. I get bored easily, so it feels good to do different things every night.
But because they are different types of classes, some strength, some cardio, I don’t overwork any part of my body so I always feel ready to go the next day. The classes are short (I usually choose 30 minutes) so they easily fit my day and enough to make the sweat sweat, but not enough to make me feel half dead and too sore for me the next day to move .
My weekly training plan. I focus on smaller workouts but do them every day.
Andrew Hoyle / CNET
On Saturdays I do a long cycle of an hour or more on the Wattbike Atom and ZwiftIt allows me to ride in a virtual world with a friend of mine who uses his own static bike at home. We talk on the phone all the time and it feels so close, like we can get together for a nice social cycle now. The fact that I also cover more than 20 miles and burn hundreds of calories in that time is almost just a bonus.
I try to fit into an Atom cycle several times a week, usually for around 20 to 30 minutes and usually in addition to some of my Apple Fitness classes. At the time of writing (late February) I have ridden 357 miles on a bike and spent more than 21 hours on it. I love being able to get on board whenever I want to earn additional miles.
Dance classes were a real revelation for me. I’m certainly not a dancer, but I really enjoyed the positive way the dance classes get me moving and they were really great fun as an activity with my partner. We don’t take it too seriously, we laugh a lot, and we get the steps wrong. But we keep moving, our heart rate is high and we end up out of breath, so it’s clearly working well.
I don’t have a “day off”, but Sundays have longer yoga sessions to help me stretch and condition my muscles, as well as develop flexibility and core strength – both of which are key to an overall healthy body.
Chicken breast and lots of colorful, fresh vegetables. Perfect.
Andrew Hoyle / CNET
All of this has been combined with a more conscious diet. I’m a massive sugar addict and I usually plow through packets of cookies or bags of Cadbury Mini Eggs (which are amazing) every night. I managed to break away from that sugar train and haven’t bought such goodies this year – a big deal as they were bought almost every day before. I haven’t had any beer since Christmas and my alcohol consumption has decreased overall.
But I still ate well as both I and my partner love to eat and eat well at home. We didn’t have to change our diet too much, but we made small changes such as: For example, instead of just filling a bowl with a serving of pasta, I measured it out and I had no white bread. My caloric intake has decreased overall, but it doesn’t feel like a restrictive diet and I am still enjoying everything I have. However, meals delivered have been cut out almost entirely.
My partner has had similar successes. Her weight is also steadily falling as she enjoys our regular workouts and a more calorie-conscious diet. Her biggest problem early on was just finding training leggings that didn’t slide down halfway, but a pair LuluLemon Skyscraper Fast and Free Tights have so far proven to be exceptionally comfortable training gaiters for them.
Both my Apple Fitness Plus exercise and my changed eating habits have done what I haven’t done for years: making exercise and weight loss sustainable for me in the long term. I didn’t enjoy going to the gym and I kept getting annoyed about how long it took to get to my gym through London, sign up, find a locker, change, wait for the machine, the I wanted to work out, take a shower, get dressed, come home.
I am not allowed to use mini eggs. I love mini eggs.
Andrew Hoyle / CNET
It could easily be a four hour process, including travel time, and that meant it became “the thing” I did that night after work, so I could justify it once a week at most. Using Apple Fitness at home allows me to launch the app and work out for 30 minutes before dinner without having to plan anything around it. That means I can have smaller sessions each day, which results in many minutes of exercise by the end of the week, and it means that I am now in the habit of exercising. My question to me every afternoon is not “will I train?” rather: “What exercise will I do?” This is new territory for me.
The COVID factor
Of course the elephant was in the room for that COVID-19. With the UK still in full swing, the gyms have remained closed so exercising at home was not so much a choice as it was the only option.
In 2020, my partner and I were ordering more and more groceries from local restaurants, going outside less and drinking more, which accelerated weight gain for both of us. Now, however, we are playing lockdown on our hands as we try to get fit again.
When we meet from the table and restaurants and bars are closed, there is no temptation for us to have a beer with friends – no boisterous night in a burger joint, no sitting in a comfortable chair in a pub that comes by four liters of local ale – there are no plans at all. Sure, on the one hand it’s a real shame, but the downside is that nothing stands in the way of our training. No reason for us to “cheat” our diet or skip days for something more fun.
I really enjoyed riding a bike with the Zwift app and seeing my character travel through the virtual world while pedaling.
Andrew Hoyle / CNET
We also didn’t travel to work internationally. Ordinarily at this point in most years I would be preparing to cover two trade shows for CNET, resulting in being away from home for two weeks with little time to properly exercise or eat. This would (and has) destroyed any type of routine I have established, but if all trips are canceled I will have that golden window to fully focus on my health.
Lockdown has caused so many problems for so many people, but the only benefit for me is that my exercise is successful not in spite of lockdown but because of it.
I’m still just taking my first steps in what I hope to be a new, healthier lifestyle for myself in the long run, but I’m certainly encouraged by the progress I’ve made. I’m noticeably slimmer and my t-shirts fit better. I feel stronger walking and although I’ve always had mild back pain, it hasn’t even been noticed since I started training – a benefit I didn’t even expect.
I wanted to find out how much Apple Fitness Plus encouraged me to exercise and if it was a good long-term solution for non-gym workouts. So far, my weight loss has been a huge benefit to the service, but it also takes a lot of dedication from me to stick to the program I have put together and maintain healthy eating habits.
But these home workouts were so entertaining that I want to do them and actively look forward to them, while beforehand I usually looked for an excuse to skip a workout. Whether this was solely due to the accessibility of the Apple service, the convenience of doing it at home, or a change in myself I can’t say for sure (it’s probably a bit of all three, to be fair ). But I’m really looking forward to seeing how far I can come in the next few months.
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 doctor or other qualified health care provider with any questions about a disease or health goals.