Apple Watch will soon be a heart rate tracking option for Orangetheory Fitness clubs

Apple Watch users will soon be able to share heart rate data with Orangetheory Fitness machines without using a separate dedicated heart rate monitor. The popular fitness club unveiled its new OTbeat Link accessory today for using the Apple Watch to track heart rate data during workouts.

The new OTbeat Link accessory will be available to purchase for $129 sometime during the first quarter of 2020, according to the announcement today, and will work with a new Orangetheory app for the Apple Watch.

The OTbeat Link is a new, custom-designed small device worn on an Apple Watch band that will give members the ability to sync their Apple Watch directly with the Orangetheory Fitness in-studio heart rate monitoring system. Orangetheory Fitness learned that the most common request was to use Apple Watch in class. Now, not only will members be able to view metrics in real time in class with an Apple Watch, they’ll also be able to see their Orangetheory Fitness workouts afterward in the Activity app, and Orangetheory Fitness workouts will contribute to closing Apple Watch Activity Rings.

Apple’s fitness director Jay Blahnik praised Orangetheory for their new Apple Watch integration:

“Apple Watch is designed to help people live a better day by being more active,” said Jay Blahnik, Senior Director of Fitness for Health Technologies at Apple. “With workout tracking, Apple Pay and a new membership program, we are thrilled Orangetheory Fitness is integrating Apple Watch into a comprehensive experience for their customers.”

The new Apple Watch accessory will also be included in a new Premier+ membership tier for club attendees without buying it separately.

Orangetheory’s in-studio heart rate tracking system previously relied on other dedicated heart rate monitors for using your own heart rate to calculate your workout intensity. You could always track your workout on your own with the Apple Watch too, but the data captured on the watch wasn’t shared with Orangetheory’s system.

Gizmodo has a brief experience working out with the new Apple Watch accessory:

In my brief workout, I can say I didn’t have any technical hiccups. The metrics on the giant screens and on the machines matched what was on my Watch. To me, adding on the OTbeat Link isn’t going to revolutionize a workout, so much as streamline data sources—which, to be fair, is no small thing. If you’re a self-quantifying nerd, the annoying thing about working out is different apps and devices will spit out different numbers.

Syncing between multiple apps is a time-sink. My post-workout routine, for instance, involves 10 to 15-minutes of deleting duplicate workouts in MyFitnessPal, MapMyRun, and in Apple’s Activity app. More if I’m testing other wearables at the same time. Not having to do that, while still getting to close my Activity Rings accurately, is pretty freaking rad.

Apple does has a technology called GymKit that lets exercise machines like treadmills and bikes share important workout metrics with Apple Watches. The two-way sharing system is secure and sophisticated, but GymKit machines can be hard to track down outside of select fitness clubs.

Orangetheory’s upcoming device won’t be as seamless as GymKit, but it’s an interesting solution for letting Apple Watch customers do more with their fitness trackers in the gym.

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