Apple woos fitness buffs in the UAE to be 'smarter'
Kudos to Apple for dragging me back into the gym, a place I last visited (and had done something meaningful in) when I was still a bachelor.
With the world getting smarter and smarter by the day, several key aspects of life are being integrated into technology, seeing if they can actually work out (pun intended).
GymKit, Apple's latest take on fitness tech, is now in the UAE. And Khaleej Times was one of the first to use it - as a matter of fact, I was, apparently, the first here to actually have a go at it on a treadmill.
While Apple does indeed have its Health and Activity apps - which measures the usual stuff like heart rate, steps walked, etc - plus its fitness-specific Apple Watch Nike+, GymKit takes this several steps (and runs) further.
The tech giant demonstrated its newest offering during a private session with select media at The Address Boulevard's fitness centre in Dubai, which uses equipment manufactured by Technogym, Apple's biggest partner in deploying GymKit. 9to5Mac on March 20 reported that the company was able to deploy 5,000 cardio machines that supports GymKit.
Jay Blahnik, Apple's worldwide director of fitness and health technologies, flew in all the way from Cupertino and personally explained how the innovation works.
Gym equipment have been evolving for some time now to cater to the demands of 'smart' users. Certain machines have been fitted with monitors so its users can keep track of specific data while working out. GymKit is built into watchOS 4, which was rolled out in late-October - though everything you do while working out is contained within the Workout app.
Initial reviews in countries in which it was rolled out first - including Australia, the UK and the US initially, then in China and Japan - have been positive.
Global sales of wearable technology have been steadily rising. From 2016's $2.93 billion, the figure rose to $4.12 billion last year and is forecasted to leap 40 per cent to $5.8 billion in 2018, according to Statista data.
Further information shows that smart watches will take the lead in the sector, with a 52 per cent share versus health and fitness trackers' 39 per cent; in 2017, they were at 41 per cent and 47 per cent, respectively.
The drill is simple: tap your Apple Watch onto the equipment's NFC reader and you're ready to go. Two things you need to make sure: both your Watch and iPhone should be updated to its latest OS versions, and that the 'Detect Gym Equipment' on the Watch app should be enabled. The gym equipment we tested was a treadmill. After connecting an Apple Watch to it via NFC, the workout can begin. As you exercise, the Watch measures your vitals - heart rate, beats per minute, calories burned, time elapsed, etc - and are reflected on the equipment's monitor in real-time.
A summary of the workout will be stored on the iPhone's Activity app to which, of course, the Watch is connected to.
And with data security a hot topic nowadays, Apple guarantees that what happens in the gym doesn't stay in the gym: once disconnected, any information on your workout is removed from the equipment and will remain on your Apple devices.
Blahnik confirmed that GymKit is now available to institutions in the UAE who are interested in utilising the technology. He says that it takes less than an hour to retrofit an equipment's system with GymKit, which includes hardware tinkering and software downloading.