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How I Use My Apple Watch to Track My Fitness Goals

I was afraid I'd hate it but it's my new favorite workout accessory...

I decided I wanted an Apple Watch three years ago while training for the L.A. Marathon. At the time, I was lugging my phone with me every morning so I could track my runs through the Nike Running App, strapping it to my shoulder with a band I bought for the original iPod. As it bumped against my arm, I amused myself through endless runs by fantasizing about the sleek, light machine I'd someday strap to my wrist, which would hold my music and track my runs. The only problem was that I needed my phone, both for safety and to call Jonah when I reached the beach, twenty miles away from my home, to come pick me up. 

Still, I began saving little by little (adding $10 at a time to a Qapital account) until the fateful day the Apple Watch + Cellular came out. I held onto the fund (I saved $600 to be able to pay for insurance) until a few weeks ahead of my birthday this year when I finally bought the Series 5 for myself. I was initially afraid I'd hate it—I mean, did I really need another screen to look at?—but after using it for the past two months, I've been delighted to find what a welcome addition it has been to my fitness routine. Here are some of the tips (and apps!) I've used to maximize my Apple Watch's fitness benefits:

1. Turn off all notification except for those from workout apps. 

The last thing I needed was another Apple device telling me I had unread texts or work emails to get to—I want my Apple Watch to be just for fun, and essentially a fancy workout buddy. While I allow calls (I keep my phone on mute, so it's helpful when my Apple watch vibrates to alert me of calls), I turned off all other notifications so my watch only alerts me when it's time to stand or move.

2. Create reasonable "Move" ring expectations.

There are three rings on the Apple Watch: "Stand" which reminds you to stand for at least one minute every hour, an "Exercise" ring which encourages 30 minutes of exercise each day, and a "Move" ring which tracks your active calories. The goal is to close all three rings by the end of the day, but the "Move" ring is the only one you can modify. When you set the Watch up, it will ask how active you are daily and prompt you to set a "Move Goal" accordingly, which are essentially the active calories you burn. I selected "Highly Active" which was around 750, then quickly learned to adjust it to my own life:

I went about what I consider to be an active day for myself—walking to and from work, and doing a 30-minute cardio class. I then set my calories at the end of that day to be my "Move Goal," which amounted to 670 and is the perfect balance of aspirational but also achievable (not too hard, but also not too easy to reach). 

That said, as you can see below, I take weekends off! Though I'll often go for a hike or do something active on a Sunday (which you can also see below), I often don't wear it at all on Saturdays. 

P.S., You can also add your friends to your Activity app, to see their rings, for some friendly competition. ;) 

Clearly I take my Saturdays easy ;) 

Clearly I take my Saturdays easy ;) 


3. Listen to your 'Stand' notifications. 

I'd always considered myself to be a fairly active person because I exercise every day, but I hadn't realized how sedentary I am when I'm not working out! I'm capable of arriving at the office, sitting at my desk, and literally not standing once until four hours later, for lunch. Now, I listen to my "Stand" notifications and go on very dorky "Watch Walks," which I've taken to openly teasing myself about in the office... I'm also better about going for short, fifteen minute walks at lunch to get moving during the work day, not just during workouts!

4. Track your workouts. 

I'm very motivated by numbers and statistics when it comes to working out (likely from years I spent on team sports), which was one of the reasons I loved Orange Theory, which tracks your effort through a heart rate monitor. I use my Watch now to track my workouts at Basecamp Fitness, the studio I visit most often, which keeps me motivated to push harder. Similar to Orange Theory, it tells me when I'm in a "red" or "orange" zone, so I feel motivated to sustain my effort when I'm feeling like taking it easy. It's totally gamified my workouts and made them even more fun! 

P.S., Certain gyms (including Basecamp!) are running offers now for a free Apple watch if you go regularly. I definitely considered this option, but opted to buy my own to avoid the year-long commitment. 


5. Use it for activities when a phone is hard to reach, like skiing.


When I went skiing last month in Reno and Park City, Utah, I used a few apps to track my days (I prefer Slopes to other apps) which gave me a 3D map of my day (and my friend's days!) and recorded my speed on every run. I loved that I could look at my watch to see my previous speed on runs and easily change my music in my headphones. Though I averaged between 30 and 40 MPH, I was shocked to learn that my top speed one day was 60.2 MPH (I used to be a competitive racer, so was never out of control and did it on a slope I knew well, without any other skiers, but still had no idea I was going that fast!).

I've also used it for rock climbing, paddle boarding, and swimming (it's waterproof) when I want to leave my phone in my bag. 

6. Go phone-free on runs. 

The primary reason I purchased my Watch with Cellular capabilities is so I can go for runs without my phone. I love being able to run out my door without it, and all my fantasies about running sans phone have come true! It's so much less bulky to run with the watch, and I can track my pace with a quick glance (you can even set up Apple Pay on your watch so you don't need your wallet). 

A few non-workout reasons I love it: 

1. Find my phone. 

I lose my phone constantly (I've literally dropped it in a USPS box and didn't realize it until hours later), but there's a feature on Apple Watch to ping your phone, even if it's on silent. I use it several times a week! 

2. Shazam

I'm always on the lookout for new music (it's literally a part of my job) but can rarely get my phone out in time to Shazam a song playing over loud speakers. I keep it as an app on my watch so I can quickly (and subtly) click "Shazam."

3. I use my phone less

Because I can check my email and texts on my Watch if I need to (though I keep the notification off), I need to pull out my phone far less often which results in less distractions from Instagram. 

I'm obviously not trying to sell you Apple Watches (though Apple, call me if you need a freelance sales gal 📞), so let me know if you have any questions about using it and I'll answer them honestly in the comments!

P.S., While I'm on the subject of Apple products, here's how I learned to embrace reading on an iPad.

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