This New Apple Watch Program Lets You Earn Gift Cards & Other Rewards By Working Out

A user wearing a pink shirt checks her Apple Watch. Apple Watch Connected is a new fitness incentive...
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It's super satisfying to watch the rings close on your Apple Watch, but sometimes it can feel like the only reward you get for meeting your Move goals is, like, health. Apple wants to change that by partnering up with local gyms to keep you going on your fitness goals. At select locations for Orangetheory, Basecamp, the YMCA, and Crunch Fitness, the new Apple Watch Connected program will let users link their workouts to the device on their wrist, earn rewards for staying active in and out of the gym, and use Apple Pay in their facility. (So you don't have to fish your wallet out of your gross gym bag to buy the socks you forgot, again.)

At launch, the program will be be available at all six of Basecamp's facilities in California and Minnesota, Orangetheory's Astor Place and Soho gyms in New York City, YMCA's St. Paul Midway location, and Crunch Fitness's signature gyms at 83rd Street and in the Financial District in New York City, with more locations rolling out this year.

And what are these rewards, you might ask? At Orangetheory, members will be able to use the data from their Apple Watches to help earn gift cards they can use at Nike and Apple, among other places. People joining Basecamp, which offers interval training, can choose a membership tier where they get an Apple Watch Series 5 GPS at signup, then earn back the device's value by doing three classes a week for a year. If you've got an Apple Watch at Crunch, you'll be able to earn money off your monthly membership dues by participating in different challenges. Who doesn't want to get hooked up for blasting My Chemical Romance directly into your ears on a run?

Courtesy of Apple

YMCA-goers will be able to participate in monthly community challenges to close a pre-set number of rings on the Watch. When individuals and communities reach a challenge's benchmarks, ring closings will translate into charitable donations that help kids participate in awesome sports programming. For example, during the first month's challenge, every time the community closes 40 exercise rings, one child will be awarded water safety lessons. Non-Apple Watch users will also be able to log their activity to participate and contribute to the awesome.

At participating locations for all four franchises, Apple Watch Connected also means that members will be able to manage their payments with Apple Pay. At these and other gyms, you can pair your Watch with any smart gym equipment that uses Apple's Gymkit, which means all the time you spend on the elliptical still counts towards your floors climbed for the day.

While Apple Watch data is stored locally on your devices, opting in to Apple Watch Connected will require you to download your gym's app. Apple's policy for apps that manage health data prohibits them from sharing that information with third parties without telling you, but it's always worth reading their privacy policies in full.

All of that fitness data you already collect with your Apple Watch can now actually be worth something besides the internal satisfaction of closing your rings. So check if your gym is participating and, if you're into it, start connecting.

This post has been updated to clarify how health data is managed under Apple's app guidelines.