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How to sync popular fitness apps to your Apple Watch

How to sync popular fitness apps to your Apple Watch

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Apple Watch
Apple Watch
Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

With about a quarter of the worldwide market, the Apple Watch is far and away the most popular fitness watch. Many of its wearers, though, want to track their activity with third-party applications. If you’re one of their number, don’t fret — happily, the Watch’s popularity means that many commonly used apps — such as MyFitnessPal, Couch to 5K, Strava, and Nike Training — have made that process pretty simple.

It’s pretty much a matter of installing the app on your phone, making sure the Watch app has been installed as well, and tweaking a couple of settings. Here’s how to sync these four apps to your Apple Watch.

MyFitnessPal

Once you’ve downloaded Under Armour’s MyFitnessPal (MFP) app (available for iOS and Android) and set up your account, it’s pretty easy to connect it to the Apple Health ecosystem and your Apple Watch.

  • Give MFP permission to track your steps.
  • Toggle the “Motion & Fitness” switch to On.
  • You’ll then see a long list of apps that MFP can talk to. Scroll down to “Health app.” That’s Apple’s. Tap on it.
  • MFP then drops you into the Health app’s Sources screen, where you can decide which data you want to let MFP write and read to Apple’s Health ecosystem. Most of that data doesn’t come from motion tracking, but from the food tracking you do in MFP. You can pick which data you want to share, keeping in mind you can always change it in the Health app’s Sources screen.
  • MFP automatically installs an app on your Apple Watch, giving you quick access to your day’s nutrient, water, and calorie intake, as well as steps taken.
MyFitnessPal with Apple Watch

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Couch to 5K 

Couch to 5K (C25K) from Zen Labs (available for iOS and Android) is an extremely popular app for beginning and wannabe runners. The free version doesn’t include an Apple Watch app, or calorie and distance tracking, but you can splurge and pay the $5 for the Pro version. 

  • Download the app to your phone and opt in (or not) to its privacy policy. The app then drops you into your iPhone’s settings screen, where you can decide what kind of notifications you want to see. Once you’re done, find your way back to the C25K app. 
  • Give permission for C25K to use your iPhone’s motion processor. Swipe through some intro screens, and tap “Start Running.” At this point, you’ll need to give permission for whether and when to access your phone’s GPS.
  • Before you start running, though, you’ll need to connect C25K to the Health app. Tap “Pause” on the Warmup screen and tap the hamburger button on the upper left to show the settings menu. Scroll down and you’ll see a toggle for Apple Health. Turn it on.
  • C25K then shows you the screen that lets you share your workouts with the Health app. Make your changes, tap “Allow” and close the menu.
  • The Watch app can work as a standalone; just flip the toggle. Tap “Start” and you’re off to the races.
Couch to 5K with Apple Watch

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Strava

Strava is as close to a lingua franca as you’ll find in fitness apps. Odds are excellent that if you share your fitness progress with other devices and other people, most of them either use Strava as a tracker or flow their data through Strava.

  1. Download the Strava app (available for iOS and Android).
  2. Create a Strava account. The app will immediately invite you to start recording your activity, but instead of rushing off to record, tap “Later” so you can set the app up. You’ll be offered the opportunity to follow athletes, connect your Facebook account, and sync your contacts, or just skip the whole thing. 
  3. Next, you’ll see the “Getting Started” screen, where you’ll connect your Apple Watch.
  4. Tap “Connect a GPS watch or computer” and you’ll see a long list of supported devices. Tap “Apple Watch.”
  5. Get past an interstitial page, agree to a code of conduct, and allow access to health-related data. Tap “Finish.”
  6. From the Watch, you can start tracking a wide range of activities: outdoor runs, bike rides, walks, indoor runs and rides, hikes, Nordic skiing, and workouts. Tap one, and the app will track (and display) elapsed time, speed, distance, and heart rate. Swiping left lets you pause or end the workout and play with a few relevant settings.
Strava and Apple Watch

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Nike Training Club

Apple and Nike have a long relationship, so it’s not at all surprising that Nike’s interaction with the Apple Watch is smooth. Download the Nike Training Club app (available for iOS and Android), create an account, accept or decline the upsell and get going. Before you do, though, you’ll be offered the opportunity to set up your Apple Watch.

  1. Tap “Get Started” and you’ll be offered the chance to set up your Watch.
  2. Tap the “Enable” button for Health and you can connect the NTC Watch app to Apple Health. (You can do it manually later in the Health app’s Sources menu, if you want.)
  3. The Watch app is a second screen for the iPhone; it doesn’t run independently. Launch the Watch app, and you’ll be told it’s “Time to Train.” The Watch changes along with the instructions shown and spoken on your phone.
Nike Training Club w/Apple Watch

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