Apple has collected “more data on activity and exercise than any other human performance study in history,” according to the company’s director of fitness for health technologies.
The tech giant’s dedicated fitness lab in Cupertino has logged more than “33,000 workout sessions and 66,000 hours” in the past five years, Apple’s Jay Blahnik told Men’s Health in a recent interview. All in all, the company has accumulated data from about 10,000 unique participants since it began its ongoing fitness work in 2012. The number of workouts and amount of hours logged has also increased significantly since Apple first opened the revealed the existence of the once-secret lab in 2015.
The lab’s work contributes significantly to the Apple Watch, Cupertino’s most fitness-focused device. All of the data is used to continually update and improve watchOS’s algorithms and systems. Beyond accuracy for existing workouts, the information is also used to add new workouts to the platform — such as the upcoming high-intensity interval training support coming in watchOS 4.
Participants measured in the study — who Apple often recruits from its own ranks — are asked to perform various fitness activities while being monitored by various equipment, such as metabolic cart monitors or an electrocardiogram machine. In some cases, they also wear a mask estimated to cost about $40,000, which measures various criteria such as calorie burn, oxygen consumption and VO2 max.
The fitness lab itself is also outfitted with a variety of spaces for various activities and environments. According to Men’s Health, those spaces range from an endless pool to a studio for group fitness. Down one hall at the lab, there are chambers meant to mimic any temperature, from Arctic climates to desert heat. Every room has a name, and the three aforementioned chambers are dubbed Higher, Faster and Stronger.
More than giving publicity to the Apple Watch platform, the report also hints at Apple’s broader ambitions in the health, fitness and wellness spheres. The company has long touted the Apple Watch as an integral complement to a healthy lifestyle. The company has even positioned its wearable as the centerpiece for corporate wellness programs.
The Apple Watch is a market dominator, and some of its success could be attributed to the fitness-oriented community it fosters. “There is a world of motivation that comes from being connected to other people who have the same fitness and health goals as you,” Professor of Sociology Damon Centola told Men’s Health. Other features of the Watch platform, such as Activity Rings and Challenges, could also help amplify its positive effects, Apple’s Blahnik pointed out.