New To Meditation? Let Apple Fitness+ Guide Your Wellness Journey - Women's Health

New To Meditation? Let Apple Fitness+ Guide Your Wellness Journey

If the thought of meditating has you questioning your “zen” or ability to sit still, think again. Thanks to the new addition of meditation to Apple Fitness+, the platform affirms there’s no wrong way to meditate with beginner-friendly workouts that will turn beginners into mindfulness enthusiasts.

by | Sep 27, 2021

Meditation might once have been relegated to the periphery, a practice adored by man bun-sporting individuals and those tapped into the trajectory of their rising moon astrological phase, but in recent years it’s since come to dominate the world of wellness – and for good reason. Where in the past we placed greater emphasis on workouts that promised a physical transformation, our priorities have since shifted. Now, we understand that wellness isn’t just the consideration of the external; that to truly embody the word we need to be finely attuned with our mind. Just like we exercise our bodies, the daily ritual of mindful meditation has become a staple for so many around the world and in our fast-paced lives that grant such little opportunity to take stock of the present moment, pause and breathe deeply, meditation has become a salve – not just for lockdown, but for times of stress and uncertainty. Now, Apple Fitness+ are bringing the benefits of meditation to you. 

The fitness platform has long been the go-to source for fitness enthusiasts looking for workouts that deliver results. From HIIT to dance cardio and yoga, Apple Fitness+ has continued to ensure we stay motivated in our fitness pursuits but it’s the newly-launched meditation series that proves most exciting. If you’ve enjoyed the Mindful Cooldown experiences already offered on the platform, guided Meditation promises to build on this with its simple approach to practice mindfulness anywhere, anytime. As many of us continue to grapple with the current climate – one of relentless lockdown, uncertainty, and a shift to working from home that sees the line between work and leisure blurred – there’s never been a better time to make our mental health a priority and the addition of meditation to Apple Fitness+ not only helps to reduce everyday stress, but also helps users to develop a greater sense of awareness and build resilience to face life’s challenges. 

The importance of meditation can’t be overstated. If one takeaway has come out of Covid-19-enforced lockdown, it’s that now more than ever it’s important to prioritise our mental health. As many have struggled with the uncertainty of this time, others have found solace in the daily practice of mindfulness. A recent study documented in The Conversation found that a regular dose of mindfulness practice every day for 10 days provided a buffer against the negative impact of Covid-19 news consumption. As well as that, individuals who practised mindfulness were not as negatively affected by exposure to Covid-19-related news, leading researchers to believe that the practice of mindful meditation served as a buffer against stress. The best part? You don’t need to be carving an hour or two out of your day for meditation to reap the benefits. Even just brief, daily practices enhanced the positive affect of meditation.

Led by a group of Mindful Cooldown and Yoga trainers that Fitness+ users already know and love, guided meditation will offer nine themes to choose from – Purpose, Kindness, Gratitude, Awareness, Creativity, Wisdom, Calm, Focus, and Resilience. With five, 10- and 20-minute meditations on offer, the trainers will take you on an engaging video experience like no other, with a different style and approach that ensures whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned expert, the practice is accessible to all. Perhaps it’s this that’s most striking though. For so many of us who aren’t used to meditation, the practice itself can be a rather daunting one. Images of serene individuals sitting with impeccable posture immediately come to mind and can be a source of intimidation, a reminder that we’re not doing it “right”. It’s exactly this stigma that Apple Fitness+ is looking to remove, presenting a keen focus on the beginner’s journey in the variety of experiences on offer. With the Meditation for Beginners program, users new to the practice will learn the fundamentals before diving into the studio sessions. 

Users can access the guided meditation sessions on an iPhone, iPad or Apple TV, but a new addition to Apple’s lineup also means you can access the classes in audio form in the new Mindfulness app on the Apple Watch. It means you don’t have to be at home to meditate. Whether you’re needing just 10 minutes of clarity on the work commute or looking to slow your breathing and relax before a big work presentation, these audio experiences mean you can take your mindful meditation with you anywhere. 

It’s thanks to the watchOS 8 update that such additions occur, with a new session known as Reflect also making its way into the Breathe app upgrade. Beginning with an invitation to “Take a moment to reflect,” you’ll be presented with a short thought-starter; a simple idea to hold and focus your thoughts. This might include something like: “Take some time to think about something you’re grateful for,” prompting users to turn their thoughts inward and reach a positive frame of mind. In training ourselves to think more positively, we might just live longer too. Studies have found that optimism is specifically related to an 11 to 15 per cent longer life span, on average, and to greater odds of achieving “exceptional longevity” when it comes to living to the age of 85 and beyond. 

And with the ability to set “mindfulness reminders” on the Apple Watch, we can turn our mindful meditation into a consistent, daily practice. As Julz Arney, Director of Fitness for Health Technologies at Apple explains, consistency is key when it comes to our mindfulness. “It has a lot of synergy to fitness. The body loves consistency and it appears the mind does as well. Small doses of activity are super beneficial for you rather than sitting all day and doing one work out. And it turns out, it’s the same as training for your mind.”

Arney adds: “When it comes to making a healthy habit out of meditation, we really thought about that especially for Fitness+ subscribers because remember that when you set those mindfulness app reminders, if you’re a Fitness+ subscriber the first platter you’re going to see are the meditations. If you want to create a healthy habit out of meditation, you can set your reminders and then you’ll be reminded right there on your wrist that it’s time to do even just a five minute meditation.”

In light of the new features, Women’s Health heard from three of Apple’s guided Meditation trainers – Jessica, JoAnna and Christian – to find out why the addition of guided meditation to the fitness platform is such an exciting one and how we can utilise such workouts to carve out time for our own mindful practices. 

Women’s Health: Apple Fitness+ has quickly become a platform delivering a well-rounded health journey in terms of physical fitness and mindfulness. What excites you most about the addition of guided meditation?

Jessica Skye: One of my favourite parts of Fitness+ is the team’s passion for building an accessible platform for fitness and wellness that is welcoming to all and suits you wherever you are on your journey to live a healthy life. The same applies with Meditation, and having it as part of the Fitness+ experience will not only mean you have it at your fingers tips (for both video and audio experiences), but you can easily start with just 5 minutes. Even on your busiest days, a 5 minute Meditation can really do wonders as you begin to explore being more mindful and are guided by the themes we’ve curated, such as Gratitude, Kindness and Wisdom. Meditation has been such an amazing tool to help me live a happy and healthy life, so I’m beyond excited to share our work with the Fitness+ community. 

For those who are new to mindfulness and meditation, what advice would you give them in terms of starting out?

JoAnna Hardy: Be gentle on yourself and don’t give up! It’s easy to start something new with excitement and then soon start to think that we don’t have time, or we’re not “good” enough to keep doing it, but I encourage you to keep at it! By taking the time to look inside, we can begin to see ourselves in a way we never have before. We designed the guided Meditation in Fitness+ for those at any point in their journey, whether it’s the first time they’re meditating or they’re a seasoned practitioner. We have Meditations for Beginners to help people learn a few techniques as well as a Getting Started video so people can watch a little first before trying it themselves. You will definitely bump into moments when it seems too hard, either physically or emotionally, but it’s worth it!

What are some of the benefits that come from guided meditation as opposed to doing it alone?

Christian Howard: Contrary to popular belief, meditation isn’t simply “staying present” or even spacing out, meditation actually includes many specific instructions and techniques that are time-tested to keep you connected and on track, and includes ethics and principles that help us cultivate constructive mental qualities. Guided meditations make it much easier to express and absorb this expertise because we don’t have to worry about doing it right or wrong, we have someone we can trust communicating clearly and right there to help us. The beauty with the Fitness+ library is that it provides people with many different methods, each of them carefully crafted with audio and visual experiences to be accessible whether you are new or already engaged. Guided meditations are really there to help each person build a habit, and through repetition, master each meditation technique. Once people have embodied the principles of meditation, they can feel free to guide themselves if and when they need. 

Fitness+ subscribers will be able to tune into Guided Meditation videos on iPhone, iPad and Apple TV, with audio versions of the same classes also available via the Mindfulness app on Apple Watch. For those who are subscribed to the platform, the guided meditation classes are accessible today, while those who aren’t subscribers can sign up for $14.99 per month, or $119.99 for the year. 

By Jessica Campbell

Jess is a storyteller committed to sharing the human stories that lie at the heart of sport.

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It’s official: Shorts Season is officially here. While lockdown has seen many of us realise that activewear is less something to be worn for a workout and more a uniform we choose to do any and all daily activities in, when the warmer temperatures roll around, that favourite pair of sweatpants and leggings sometimes don’t cut it. Sure, they might be a staple in any wardrobe, but the Aussie sun doesn’t listen to reason, no matter how comfortable or cute it might be. And when it comes to summer, working out in leggings can feel like being trapped in a sauna, the sweat pooling at your ankles and around the waistband – as well as those other areas we won’t mention here. 

But as we transition from leggings to shorts, it becomes clear pretty quickly that not all shorts are created equal, and certainly not all shorts are fit for a workout. Take it from us at Women’s Health HQ, we’ve been there, tried it and lived to see the consequences. From the shorts that look cute but ride up to show your undies on the run, to those that feel like being strapped into a harness that’s digging into your hip bones. Then there are the fabrics that can cause chafing – a big no – and those that basically shine a spotlight on any area you might be sweating. 

Thankfully, a number of brands are here to cater to your exercise needs with innovative materials, fabrics and sustainable options to see you through a summer of movement. Regardless of your workout preferences or daily activity, we’ve selected the best shorts that will ensure you feel good in your body, shorts that get you excited to embrace the day and attack it with energy, that make you want to get outside and enjoy the outdoors, whether it be walking, running, or socialising in the park. Here are our pick of the best bike shorts below. 

Nagnata

Uptown Biker, $240

What says summer more than a pop of orange and the sleek shape of these Nagnata biker shorts? With its mid-length and horizontal raised rib side detail, these are shorts you can wear both for a workout and out to meet the girls. Made in Australia with a technical knit fabrication, the double-layer jacquard provides gentle sculpting qualities for the body, making it an excellent choice for light to moderate fitness activities like yoga, pilates or barre. 

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New Balance

Q Speed Fuel Short, $70

We love the colour of these shorts from New Balance which are cut with a sleek, speedy look that also helps to elongate the legs. Featuring NB DRY moisture wicking fabric, these are the shorts you want for high intensity exercise or long runs, keeping you comfortable and dry. There’s also an interior brief for added comfort and a stash pocket to keep your essentials. 

All Access

Ultra High Rise Zip Front Biker Short, $78

Yes, the colour is amazing but the fit is equally sensational on these All Access shorts. For those who love a high-rise fit and wide waistband that holds you in at the waist, look no further. The sleek, shiny look offers mid-compression and the fabric is moisture-wicking, so you can stay comfortable even during your sweatiest workouts. 

Nike

Nike x Naomi Osaka Utility Short, $90

Few things are worse than heading out the door for a run and realising your shorts offer no pockets for those essentials you need. You’re left to hold your iPhone, keys, and anything else you might need in your sweaty palm. Thankfully, Naomi Osaka knows what we need when it comes to exercise shorts and these utility shorts from her collaboration with Nike offer all that and more with a relaxed fit and elastic waistband. 

Tracksmith

Session short Tights, $72

When it comes to bike shorts, you want to feel supported and held in but you also want to be able to breathe. These Tracksmith session short tights are exceptional in offering support while still ensuring comfort remains a priority. Forget about chafing, these shorts won’t ride up and down and the fabric offers more coverage and support against the body. 

Outdoor Voices

Relay 3” Short, $48

Who said summer shorts have to be boring? Outdoor Voices brings fashion-forward style and playfulness to their collections with fun prints and exciting colours. We love the relay 3” shorts for their ultralight, quick-drying fabric that also happens to be made from recycled polyester. But more importantly, we love the print and Poppy Swirl is as good as it gets. There’s even a hidden pocket for your valuables, too. 

Lululemon

Align High-Rise Short 6”, $69

If you’re familiar with the buttery-soft feel of Lululemon’s tights, you’ll want to get your hands on a pair of their shorts, too. Made with the same Nulu fabric that their tights are known for, these shorts feel weightless and super soft. They might be our go-to staple for any workout, but the feel is so second-skin that it’s hard to not wear them for every other activity, too. 

Spiritual Gangster

Seamless Biker Short, $112

These biker shorts from Spiritual Gangster move with you, thanks to a three-tiered compressive waistband that offers a flattering high waist that hugs you in all the right places, without proving constrictive. They offer medium compression but are built for all day comfort, and the colour is a true summer staple because, let’s face it, who doesn’t love tie-dye?