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How to use Apple GymKit

While the Apple Watch is extremely popular, GymKit may actually be one of its least-known features. It’s easy to describe on a basic level — it lets people link a Watch to gym equipment. What benefits does that offer though, and what equipment supports it? More importantly, how do you connect and use the technology?


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What is GymKit?

GymKit originally launched in 2017 and allows Apple Watch owners to connect with compatible cardio machines. This includes machines like treadmills, ellipticals, indoor bikes, or stair steppers from global manufacturers such as Life Fitness, TechnoGym, and Peloton. Strength equipment is excluded because you’re unlikely to find a digital interface on a shoulder press machine or a lat pulldown.

People use GymKit for improving the accuracy of their workouts. If you trigger a separate indoor workout on your Watch, the results can potentially misalign with what a machine says. When the two devices are linked, however, they should theoretically bolster each other.


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Apple Watch with GymKit

How does GymKit work?

The most difficult part of activating GymKit is finding compatible equipment. While a number of brands now support the standard, gyms tend to keep outdated machines in use as long as possible, especially because of how expensive replacements can be. If a machine is GymKit-ready, you’ll see “Connects to Apple Watch” or “Connect to Apple Watch” displayed.

Once you’ve found a supported machine, you then need to make sure your Watch is set to detect it. That’s done by going to Settings > Workout on your Watch and toggling “Detect Gym Equipment” if it isn’t on already.

At that point, you should be able to walk up to any GymKit compatible machine and bring your Watch near a labeled reader. Once you’ve “tapped in,” data will flow freely, and you should feel a buzz to let you know you’re paired. Hit Start on the gym equipment to begin a workout, and Stop to end it. There’s no need to do anything else on your Watch — the workout type and stats should be logged automatically.

From your Apple Watch, the equipment receives data like your age, height, weight, and heart rate. In the other direction, your Watch gets a host of figures like incline, pace, RPM, and/or stairs climbed. Beyond accuracy, this arrangement is convenient for seeing all your workout data on one screen in front of you instead of having to constantly glance down at your Watch.

Something seldom mentioned is that you don’t have to do the pairing at the beginning of your exercise. You can pair at any time during a workout since all the data you’ve recorded will be synced all the way to the beginning of the session. That’s handy if, say, you’ve been chatting with someone and forgot to tap in.


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Apple Watch and GymKit on a cardio machine. Is GymKit secure?

One of the biggest concerns we had when Apple announced GymKit was that someone could hypothetically steal your data and learn details about your health. The good news is that in most cases, this info is entirely private — once the pairing is broken, your data disappears from gym equipment.

We say “in most cases” not because of any security breaches, but because Apple notes that if a machine lets you sign in to an online account, your workout data may be synced there too. Just something to be aware of before you get going.


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Do you need a separate app?

No. A GymKit-ready machine simply starts, stops, and/or pauses the native Workout app on your Watch. When you’re done, you get all the relevant information you’d expect via your iPhone’s Fitness app, as well as any apps connected to Apple Health. In the Fitness app, you may also spot a logo identifying the machine’s brand.


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Woman on treadmill What equipment works with GymKit?

TechnoGym was the first manufacturer with GymKit support, beginning in its Excite, Artis, and Personal ranges. Other brands joined in relatively quickly, so it’s really a question of whether your gym’s equipment is new enough and/or upgradable. In some cases, all a machine might need is a software update. Other units could require a new module, and old machines might of course be totally incompatible.

Here’s a list of the big brands that support GymKit:

  • Life Fitness
  • Cybex
  • Matrix
  • TechnoGym
  • Schwinn
  • Star Trac
  • StairMaster
  • Nautilus/Octane Fitness
  • Peloton


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peloton bike+ in home gym When is GymKit coming to my gym?

While gyms were initially eager to announce their rollout plans, GymKit is relatively commonplace in 2024, and it’s no longer being pushed that hard by Apple. If your local gym doesn’t already support the technology, then it’s unlikely to make a big deal out of future upgrades. You’ll have to ask a manager about plans or just keep an eye out the next time you do cardio.

GymKit tested

We tested a TechnoGym treadmill at a Virgin Active club in the UK. The bottom line is that it’s very straightforward and almost invisible. In fact, there’s no longer any need to pair a chest strap or hold onto metal bars to detect heart rate since your Apple Watch can fully handle that part of the equation, including zone detection.

One of the major goals of cardio is keeping your heart in a target zone to burn fat or build endurance.

Of course, having a treadmill capture and share data isn’t anything new, but what is so appealing here is that it works really well. The only catch is finding a gym that offers the feature.


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