• Bruce Burke

Apple Watch SE & Apple Fitness+

Updated: Mar 4, 2021

“We’re excited to offer another great option to help customers stay connected, be more active, and keep an eye on their health.” said Jeff Williams, Chief Operating Officer for Apple.

With the S5 System in Package (SiP) and dual-core processor, Apple Watch SE delivers incredibly fast performance, up to two times faster than Apple Watch Series 3. Great addition to ecosystem.

Apple Watch SE delivers the right amount of notifications, content, and motivation to compel me into daily actions ...

Personal Update

Before we dive in the on the Apple Watch and Fitness+ capabilities I want to take a minute to update you on some personal matters, it transitions nicely, and dovetails perfectly with the review.

Just before the Christmas holidays, I ate something bad, it made me really sick, in between bouts I attempted to go to the convenience store in my neighborhood, and woke up on the pavement of a parking lot. On the way to the store, I had stopped to talk to a new business owner who had moved into one of the shops on the property. While talking to him, suddenly I felt my stamina leave, and I took a few steps back to lean against a car parked there. Then a heatwave washed across my body, and I asked the business owner to help me walk back to my apartment. We got about as far as the trunk of the car ...

When I came to, an ambulance had been called, and I was transported to the local hospital. After determining that I was dehydrated, and rundown the hospital sent me home. I ordered a palate of gatorade, and started to rehydrate myself. I had a bell ringer of a headache for about a week, and vertigo was much more pronounced than previously - I knew I had to start getting healthy. So after visiting my doctor for a follow-up appointment I stopped at a T-Mobile store.

Based on a deal I had seen earlier in the week, I added another line to my account, by purchasing an 44mm Aluminum, Black GPS + Cellular Apple Watch SE, with a black knit velcro band. Rather than trying to create an unboxing video and feature description I thought I would leave that up to the pros. Instead I want to use this blog to talk about my personal experience with the Apple Watch SE. I've already written a comparison of the Series 6 and Apple Watch SE. So here's Rene Ritchie to give you a rundown on specs you need to know, and product unboxing experience.

Compelling Chronographs

Up until now I have resisted the Apple Watch urge, I wore watches back in the 90's, and had a nice collection that included Cartier, Rolex, Baume & Mercier, Raymond Weil and many others.

But since getting divorced I have taken to not wearing any jewelry. I didn't need a watch to tell me what time it was, my ever-resent iPhone took care of that. So I continued my resistance all the way through the Series 5 Apple Watch but when the Series 6 and Apple Watch SE were announced, Apple also announced Apple Fitness+. Now I had a reason to purchase the Apple Watch - Fitness.

I heard about Fitness+ the day it was announced, I immediately found it compelling, the ability to interact with trainers and specific types of workouts from my iPhone, iPad, Mac or Apple TV 4K made it super simple, the integration with the Apple Watch made it even more compelling.

I've been involved in various fitness programs throughout my life, one thing I have always found difficult was getting my ass off the couch and getting to the gym - now the gym comes to me. And Fitness+ comes without all the bro culture I found so appalling at most gyms. From the management on down, most gyms are displays of over-amped arrogance I have ever witnessed - I despised it.

So no smell, no bros, and open twenty-four hours a day, wherever you are. Everything from yoga for beginners to high intensity training is available. So I began where I should - at the beginning.

After just getting out of the hospital and laying on the couch for about a week with my head ringing I finally felt well enough the day after Christmas to start. For my first run I chose to play it from my Apple TV 4K using the original HomePod speakers for the sound output.

I moved my coffee table aside, and clicked on Apple Fitness+. Immediately a screen popped up asking who was exercising, I synched my Apple Watch and then selected the episode I wanted. The watch buzzed on my wrist, and the countdown synched on both the TV and Watch displays ... 3 - 2 - 1.


Heavy on Features, Light on Price

Before I get into the workout experience and what it's done for me, in the short time I've had with it. I'd like to talk about some of the other features of the Apple Watch I have come to enjoy, that I really didn't expect, and am delighted and surprised. Just like all the marketers carry on about.

Cellular: I didn't think I would like taking phone calls as much as I do. I thought I would use the cellular for some app features like maps, notifications, and listening to Apple Music on my AirPods Pro when I go for a walk. But phone calls, and other features like notifications to stand, and move around are helpful. But there is other features I have found compelling that I wasn't aware of.

Breathing notifications, Apple Watch knows when you are getting stressed, your pulse quickens, and your body temperature begins to rise. Even if I am just watching a dramatic TV show the watch senses my stress and offers me an exercise to help me take a few deep breaths and calm down. It's been helpful when watching the news lately. Let's all pray for a better, more healing tomorrow.

There are some other cool features that have been in the news lately, the ability to line up the shot with your iPhone camera, using Apple Watch. It even has a countdown feature so everyone knows when to smile. Now everyone can be in the picture, as the phone can be propped up for the shot.

Yes there is a lot of bonuses that I have been using my watch for. The reminder of how long to wash your hands is kind of eye opening. But there are too many features to detail at length, and I'm sure I'll discover more. But right now, I can leave my iPhone, iPad and MacBook behind and accomplish nearly anything lightweight with just the Apple Watch. But it really doesn't take away from any of the previously mentioned device, moreover it adds to them - all of them.


Wrist-based Ecosystem

I've written before about how adding a new Apple device to your personal ecosystem brings value to all the devices in the ecosystem. It not only provides more value to each item in the ecosystem but it also has a way of automatically delegating tasks to the different devices within the ecosystem.

What I mean is, now that I have the Apple Watch I use it when a phone call feels as though it may be a quick conversation, or when a text message doesn't require a lengthy interaction. If I don't need to send a link, attach a file or share a video - I can do it with the watch. It's very similar in this sense to Google Glass, when I was a beta tester for that ill-fated, unsupported wearable platform.

But unlike Glass, watchOS is highly integrated into the Apple ecosystem. This includes Apple Wallet, Apple Music, Apple News, Podcasts, Home App, Photos, Mail, Calendar, and Fitness+. And of course there is support for lighter weight apps from the companies I rely on most. Uber notifications are helpful, reminders, shortcuts and even the Apple Store App all have their own magical capabilities. This makes owning the watch a pleasant experience, rather than an aggravating albatross buzzing your wrist every 10 seconds. It feels serendipitous, not stupid.

The great thing about this ecosystem of devices is that if I do need to dive deeper on a call, or dig for some notes I can quickly and easily move to the proper device for the job as necessary. Everything moves with me - it's just a matter of how much screen real estate do I have and what tools do I have to create, or edit the information I have access to.


I start small with the 44mm screen of the Apple Watch SE, through to the 6.7" iPhone 12 Pro Max, to the 12.9" iPad Pro, then up to the 16" MacBook Pro, and finally to the 55" 4K UHD TV coupled to an Apple TV 4K, and a pair of the original HomePod Speakers. It's just an exercise in scaling, and adding more, and better features as the device, capabilities and display grows. An interface for every occasion, from 44mm to 55" or more, at my complete discretion.

I hear a lot of people, who have not experienced the benefits of the Apple ecosystem dismiss it.

They think it's a simple Bluetooth handoff, or some software integration. But it's more than that, much, more than that. As I dive deeper into the Apple ecosystem I am beginning to realize just how much thought goes into how to use the individual components of each device to form a complete machine that meets all your needs.

It's kind of like how individual Transformer vehicles assemble to become a larger more powerful robot. This results from continuous improvement of a series of devices that have endured the last decade of computing technology, plus some well-received new additions and upgrades in the last few years.

I'm currently culling information for a white paper report on Apple's forthcoming operationalized appliance computing subscription based service that will offer a trusted network of devices to consumers, the SMB marketplace, and enterprise businesses. Subscribe for more on that.

But rather than trying to explain the existing ecosystem to you in writing, and at the risk of becoming redundant, I again channel in Rene Ritchie to throughly explain the Apple Ecosystem - and this is just a primer!

If you're not already subscribed to Rene Ritchie on YouTube it's worthy of your add, he's the type of analyst I hope to become - with my own twist of course. Rene brings a wealth of knowledge, nerd humor, biting snark, and deep industry relationships to the table. Experienced, knowledgeable, but able to go down a rumor rabbit hole to find the one bit of truth, and explain what it means in relation to the whole.

On Everyone's Watch List

So there is a lot of value for the money invested in the hardware, so much more that I am going to rate Apple Watch second, behind the original HomePods, as my favorite Apple product this year.

That puts the new iPhone 12 Pro Max in third place. I'm basing this on the joy and delight factor as well as the usefulness of each of the devices. Of course the home entertainment factor of HomePods might not be as strong if not for the current indoor conditions of the covid pandemic ...

Even at the base price, with no carrier incentives, the Apple Watch SE is a great value. But along with the price promotion, Apple sweetened the deal with a three month trial subscription to Apple Fitness+. As I had already had an Apple One subscription it was easy to add the trial to my profile, and have the opportunity to see if it motivated me to do what I needed to do - get back in shape. When I say back in shape - I mean in relation to my entire being, as the kids say, errything.

This last year has been an upset to us all. We all have our own stories, I had to move, create a new brand vehicle to continue with, and I had a physically devastating situation that really took the wind out of my sails. But it was a wakeup call - I think it was somehow again, serendipitous.

So before I dive into the fitness, and what it's done for me so far I want to take a minute of your time and tell you what I am up to in the new year and what I am planning for the Applefanboi brand. First and foremost - video. And not just video reviews of products in the Apple ecosystem, and surely not just another talking head reading off the low end leaks to get clicks it's not my style.

I am going to bring in art, science, music and culture - as well as insight and analysis -

In the first real episode I am going to tell the Applefanboi origin story. Like all characters, I have a background, and I am going to introduce myself and share about who I am and how I came to be an Applefanboi. You'll get to know more about me as I grow the video channel, and as I grow through the experience of learning how to build a video blog series. I'll also do podcasts, some in video format, others just as an audio stream. Look for more content as I start to recover and rebuild.


Dialed Into Your Health

As I said earlier, Apple Watch gives all the benefits of a trainer, with none of the bro-ness. And there is no sappiness that seems to be a staple in the fitness guru TV shows and social media. But there is a strong element of developing not only the body, but also improving mentally and emotionally. It's not just hit that weight pile, or attack that exercise machine - it's more thoughtful.

One the things I have always hated about exercise regimes is tracking my progress. Those of you that have known me for a while, know that I am not clerically oriented. So tracking progress, and cribbing notes into an app interface is not my idea of a good time. With Apple, the watch does all that for me. My data is available on all my devices, I can view it at any time, and easily increase or decrease any of my simplified goal rings at any time. I don't have to log anything or any data.

I'm not going to tell you that I have used Apple Fitness+ every day since I have owned it, that would be a complete lie. But I will tell you I have used it two - three times a week for at least a half hour, and was encouraged enough by the results to dive in deeper and start to explore other types of exercise. As I am 61, and just coming back from a tremendous shock to my system I have found the yoga to be a good inception point. It's not driving yourself to exhaustion, but rather holding your body in ways that force separate areas of the body to work on themselves as you go through the routines.


I haven't exercised at all, or kept up my evening walks following the lockdowns in March. I, like many stayed on the couch, watching the horrors of coronavirus, and other calamities unfold. I gained weight, lost what muscle I did have and fell into weird sleeping habits, as dates and time seem to matter less and less. But now it seems we are starting to write a new chapter in American history, and it's time to adapt, reconfigure and reboot our lives and our country.

So here's my results, no I'm not showing my rings - I'd be the laughing stock of the Internet, but I'll tell you this. With just a few number of sessions, I have started to rid myself of chronic back pain. No it's not gone - but it's not as persistent or as painful as it once was - just a few short weeks ago.

My posture is better, I'm not lurching down the sidewalk, I'm standing more upright, with my head high and shoulders back. My stomach has begun to flatten and my legs are feeling stronger underneath me. And this is all a result of a handful of 10 minute sessions with with 10 minute mindful cool downs. I can't dispute the results, and I didn't have to use any equipment.

Go to New Heights, Lengths, and Depths

Unlike other on-demand exercise services, Apple is not trying to sell you hyper-connected exercise equipment - at least yet. The courses are segmented by the type of equipment you may already own. I have a pair of rubber coated five pound dumbbells, and that was pretty much it. So I used some Amazon points and found a thick fold up gym mat that tucks away behind my living room armchair when not in use.

After the first workout on the thin living room rug on my tile floor I had to get something. The mat arrived quickly and I was able to clear the living room enough to place the mat correctly in relation to the instructor on-screen. At this point you are probably saying, "oh this sounds just like the VCR exercise tapes of the 80's - not really, the similarities stop there.

These segments are created with the idea of a total healthy individual. I was delighted to find that once Dustin the trainer got my heart rate pumping with the routine, he asked me to send that loving feeling out to the world as a Metta. Now I didn't understand what this was but I Googled it after the session and found that in Theravada Buddhism meditation, a Metta is focused on the development of unconditional love for all beings. In another cool-down video I was led through an exercise of removing negative thoughts about myself, replacing them with positives as I breathed.


You can call this liberal pablum, trying to brain wash me ... but I think it's been helpful to me and I found it eye-opening how much stronger this type of meditation is after a workout session. It's helping me to forgive myself, and others for any harm we have caused to ourselves and others. No one is without fault - every American now has a responsibility to look inside themselves, and reclaim their truth. I am not a rabble rouser, it starts with me, just as it starts with each one of you.

Ultimately, my decision to finally dive in on the Apple Watch segment of the ecosystem was well timed. As I am making this new resolve and planting this Fitness+ flag, I am also planting some others in my life. They relate to this blog site, expanding the brand into video, and developing the aforementioned white paper. It's all inter-related for me because in one way, shape, or form it all comes back to Apple. It looks like I'm following their lead - all the way. And it's starting to help me.

Now this may sound sappy but, I have discovered that by treating myself better, right down to getting the hardware I really want, and not settling for less, it has an effect. As I continue to turn away from the negatives in life, and turn instead to embrace quality, and values, it's had a transformative effect. It's not like the arrogance I developed in the 90's when I made a lot of money. Moreover it feels as if I am developing more character, and understanding more of who I am. I think what I am saying here is. When we step away from the things we know, we discover things we didn't know. I think, this is a step in the right direction for me.

With starting a video channel, I am totally diving into unknown territory. In stepping up to develop a white paper study, by myself, never having done it before, I am stretching my boundaries. But I will learn it, the first results might be amateurish, but I'll get better. But I am only going to go so far with just a blog that publishes a meandering post, whenever I feel the urge to write ... I know this.

Below is where I will be posting the videos I create, please subscribe, like, and tap the bell for notifications when I post new videos. I won't allow sponsors to dictate content, you'll always get the truth about products, services. Real likes and dislikes, there is no sugarcoating going on here.


Despite the fear, anxiety, and trepidation I have about expanding this brand and making it successful. I am the same guy that developed several events on the future of financial services, never having done it before, with very little help, and limited sponsorship. I'm not afraid to put myself ahead of the curve, make predictions, and even fail sometimes in my journey.

Whats going to help me get there is the network of people in my life, and the infrastructure I have created under myself this past year. From my little cottage on a lake I can create a vibrant brand with using the very devices I write, video and share about. My blog and my videos are not just going to be a bunch of reviews, but rather it will be a story about how these devices are helping me to grow. As a person, as a brand, and as a citizen of the United States of America.

But as I said I am not very organized, and so I rely on my devices, to keep me between the gutters and out of the rabbit holes. I am not going to lie, I can easily slough off a workout routine without some prompting - the last time I was a member of a gym was when I was married, wasn't my idea.

I'm not a regimented person, I say I am a different collection of atoms every day. But am I a better collection of atoms than I was the previous day? Let's be honest here, I'm 61, I'm past my prime, and no one wants to hire me. To corporate America I am unemployable - so I have to blaze my own trail, and I pretty much have always preferred that path. I'm not much of a yes man.

But what I have found in each device, product, or service I have invested my time and money into in the Apple ecosystem has given me a great return. Yes I know the products are expensive, but I have learned to stop shopping price, and focus on value. Then determine if they intersect as I use.

So, yes I did write a lead-up blog where I learned about all the features and benefits, and then I passed along to you. Now I have used the watch and am here to tell you that the pics, specs, and advertising slogans don't accurately convey the Apple Watch SE experience. It's better in real life than it is on paper, in commercials, on the Internet, or in the stores. It's very compelling, and a great addition to my personal little network of devices - all optimized to keep me encouraged, and moving forward.

But is the Series 6 Apple Watch for you? I weighed the features, against the cost - not knowing the true benefits of the device until after I began using it. Again here's Rene Ritchie with that question ...

I'm going to make this definitive statement about my deeper dive into Apple this past year or so ....

Following the #PAY event in Las Vegas last year, I bought the 16" MacBook Pro for myself for Christmas, I got the fastest, most future proof model I could. Then after moving, and locking down I began using it more. I began discovering the benefits of the iPhone interacting with the MacBook, and how worked with the Apple TV. AirPods Pro accelerated my relationship with all these devices. And then the opportunity to incorporate two of the original HomePods into my setup took it that much further. In the last three months I have created an Apple cocoon where I'll weather the storm.

So when T-Mobile gave me a promotional credit for the iPhone 12 Pro Max, and then backed that up with a killer deal on the Apple Watch SE, I was drunk on the Apple Kool-Aid. I think I fully transitioned into the Apple fray at the right moment. My inception point was well-timed to learn about the existing ecosystem, and experience it first hand. I came in at a time of extreme growth and I have the experience to know where it's growing. Piece by piece Apple is crafting a unique, intuitive, and trusted computing experience unlike anything any manufacturer has ever built before.

So I am all in, on myself, this brand and doing what I can to help rebuild American democracy. If you'd like to join with me, connect with me on the social networks, I'm easy to find. I look forward to putting together my band of misfits to help grow this brand. It will happen as it's supposed to ...

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