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The new program from Apple Fitness+ feels like you’re walking with a celebrity

"Time to Walk" revitalized my stale walking routine.
The episode with Christopher Meloni felt like getting a pep talk from my dad.
The episode with Christopher Meloni felt like getting a pep talk from my dad.Brianna Sanchez / TODAY

I developed a walking habit during the pandemic. As someone who previously saw walking as a way to get from one place to another, but a waste of time as a form of exercise, this was a big change of pace. But I came to love the mental escape a walk provided — not to mention the accessibility and the low-impact exercise that left my body feeling invigorated, not beaten down.

But I had gotten into a rut — whenever I head out for a walk I take the same route and tune into the same podcasts. So when I heard Apple was releasing a new walking program on Fitness+ called “Time to Walk” I knew I needed to give it a try. 

I’ll admit I dug my heels in at first. I really enjoyed the podcasts I was listening to and as a creature of habit, I had a hard time pressing pause on them to try something new. I also had never used an Apple Watch before, and as someone who is a bit technologically challenged, I wasn’t looking forward to mastering a new gadget.

But I really liked the concept of the new walking program, a series of 30-minute inspirational talks from prominent figures — from actors to doctors to athletes — wrapped up by three songs of their choice.

So I strapped on the Apple Watch, left my phone on the counter and headed out for a walk.

How much does Apple Fitness+ cost?

If you own an Apple Watch, you get a one-month free trial of Fitness+ — and the purchase of an Apple Watch Series 3 or later will get you a three-month free trial. After that, an Apple Fitness+ membership costs $9.99/month or $79.99 annually.

It’s worth noting that with a Fitness+ membership you’re getting much more than just the “Time to Walk” program. Fitness+ has 11 types of on-demand workouts, from HIIT to strength to yoga and meditation, and the watch provides real‑time metrics during your workout, like your heart rate and calories burned.

What is “Time to Walk” on Fitness+?

“Time to Walk” and “Time to Run” are audio-guided experiences to accompany you on your walk or run. Each episode is led by a different guest and runs approximately 30 minutes, with about 20 minutes of storytelling and 10 minutes of music. They are currently on Season 3 of “Time to Walk,” with a new episode rolling out each week.

Fitness+ time to Walk guests Rebel Wilson, Bernice A. King, Hasan Minhaj and Chris Meloni.
Starting January 10, Fitness+ introduced the third season of Time to Walk, with new guests including Rebel Wilson, Bernice A. King, Hasan Minhaj and Chris Meloni.Apple

I tried the Time to Walk program on Fitness+

I will admit, without shame, I started with Kesha. Yes, with options like Dr. Sanjay Gupta, ballerina Misty Copeland and Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai on the roster, I started with the glitter-throwing pop star. (Go ahead and judge.) She talked about music, but also a lot about the connection between nature and well-being, which was unexpected and really nice given that I took my walk outdoors for the first time in a while (on a generously warm day for February in New Jersey).

Kesha was walking on the beach in Malibu and I could hear waves and birds in the background. I was surprised how much she opened up about struggles in her life — from feeling like an outsider as a child to battling imposter syndrome and conquering fears as an adult. It felt like a stream of consciousness, and not crafted or scripted at all.

Before I pressed play, I hadn’t quite known what to expect in terms of the content or flow of each episode. I was surprised by how unproduced it felt. Like I was on a phone call with a friend — not listening to a celebrity read a script or give a speech.

I had only intended to do a quick 30-minute walk, but there were so many interesting guests in the lineup that I decided to do another loop around the neighborhood and listen to one more. I found out very quickly that it’s easy to get lost in these episodes and get more of a workout than you bargained for.

I pressed play on Malala Yousafzai, the activist who was attacked by the Taliban at 15 years old and became known worldwide. She walked in a park in Los Angeles and talked about walking as a moment of solitude and connection with her parents. She talked about adjusting to living in a new country and managing a public image as the face of activism. I liked how we got to see into her personal life, hearing stories from the childhood, and also hear stories of her activism and her inspiring fight against women’s voices being silenced. She was a really good storyteller and painted very vivid pictures of her experiences. I was surprised by her eclectic music choices, which included “Dangerous Woman” by Ariana Grande and one of her favorite Bollywood songs.  

Time to Walk fitness stats

A few days later I decided to take a 30-minute lunch break and get outside for some fresh air. I had been looking forward to Chelsea Handler’s episode and thought she would surely be a nice palate cleanser during a workday. She had me chuckling within the first 10 seconds. But then things got pretty serious. She talked about losing her brother and how navigating grief taught her empathy. She spoke about privilege, speaking up and being an ally. It was surprisingly motivational; it felt like a pep talk at certain points. She said that music for her is celebratory, and I finished my walk jamming out to “American Pie” and a feel-good song from Pink.

I tuned in for a few more lunch-break episodes over the next week or two and I did find myself feeling energized and inspired when I sat back down at my desk. The 30-minute episodes are just long enough to get a look into someone’s life — without getting bored or allowing my mind time to wander — and finishing up with music put me in the right headspace to jump back into work.  

One Saturday morning, I was up before my husband and son and decided to get an episode in while walking a local trail to get coffee — something I had never done before. 

I realized I hadn’t chosen a male guest yet, so I opted for Christopher Meloni. He was doing a nature walk in Connecticut and talked about working toward and achieving a goal, from his time as a high school quarterback to now at 60, reprising his role on "Law and Order." He was another really good storyteller; I got lost in the stories from his childhood and the 30 minutes flew by. He was funny, but educational and inspiring. I kind of felt like I had gotten a pep talk from my dad when the episode concluded. 

I walked back with Rebel Wilson, sipping my latte while she talked about living with PCOS and finally taking control of her health. She spoke of being kind to your body, getting healthy gradually and gently by walking an hour a day. She also spent a chunk of time talking about overcoming nerves and going for it (whatever goal your “it” is) and it felt like getting a pep talk from a friend. It was such a positive way to start my weekend and instead of greeting my toddler groggy, I felt energized — physically and mentally – having gotten a walk and an inspirational talk in.

Apple watch Fitness+ Prince William
The second season of Time to Walk on Apple Fitness+ closed with a special holiday episode featuring Prince William.Apple

The last episode I listened to was from Prince William. I have to admit, I am not someone who follows the royal family closely, so this wasn’t the most interesting episode to me, but I did think it was cool that he decided to participate in the program. He talked a lot about mental health and being able to laugh at yourself when you’re pulled out of your comfort zone (with an entertaining story starring Taylor Swift and Jon Bon Jovi). I was pleasantly surprised when he finished his episode off with an upbeat song from Tina Turner, Shakira’s “Waka Waka” (which is a favorite of his kids, Charlotte and Louis) and a banger from AC/DC that he likes to wake up with on Monday mornings.

What I liked about the Time to Walk program on Fitness+

There are so many interesting and diverse guests that I still have quite a list to work through, and I found myself looking forward to seeing who the new guest would be each week. Every single episode did a great job of balancing serious, moving stories with more lighthearted experiences and humor.

As a newly-minted member of the walkers club myself, I loved hearing different perspectives on the activity and each guest's relationship with walking — both as a means to stay physically healthy and as a mental health tool and way of connecting with themselves and others. It was cool that each guest began by describing the locale they were walking in. Their descriptions, plus the sounds of the scenery like gravel crunching under foot or the waves crashing on the beach, really paint a picture and make it feel like you’re walking with next to them. 

I really liked the structure of the episodes, having the first half feel more like a podcast and the second half feel like a music playlist. I loved the nostalgia of the music and hearing the hosts' personal connection and experience with specific songs. The picks of each guest were often really surprising and not what I would have expected. It felt like having a guest DJ on the radio and allowed me to revisit some old favorites and also hear music I would never choose to listen to on my own. 

Perhaps it was the fact that all of these influential people were walking in interesting and gorgeous locations, while I was passing the same strip of houses in my neighborhood, but it actually inspired me to mix up my walk and take a new route. I crossed over into another development that I never explore and twice took a trail to my local coffee shop. It felt like a treat breaking up my normal routine and enjoying an inspirational talk and a latte while I walked.

What I didn’t like about the Time to Walk program on Fitness+

To be honest, this could very well have been user error — like I said, I am not the most savvy when it comes to technology — but I did encounter a few tech glitches. The first time I tried to play an episode, I kept getting an error saying the walking program was unavailable. The second time, I got halfway through the episode and it just shut off on me. A big pet peeve of mine is when a class starts buffering or doesn’t work during a workout — it’s hard enough to motivate yourself to get moving so once I am I don’t want to have to deal with tech issues that delay my workout. Moving forward, I downloaded the episodes ahead of time and didn’t have any issues. 

I also couldn’t figure out a way to select the next episode after one ended and keep walking without ending my walk and starting a new one. It would be nice to be able to just continue on to the next episode and track my entire walk as one workout instead of it being broken up into 30-minute segments.

The cost of the required equipment is obviously the biggest barrier to enjoying the program. You have to own a compatible Apple Watch to access “Time to Walk,” which will set you back a couple hundred dollars. I personally wouldn’t buy the Apple Watch and Fitness+ membership for just this program alone, but if you already own a watch or plan to utilize the broader Fitness+ platform to create a well-rounded workout routine, the “Time to Walk” program is a nice offering to also take advantage of. 

I would recommend this workout to:

  • Anyone who loves to walk.
  • Podcast addicts and pop-culture junkies.
  • Those who want to start a walking routine, but have a hard time motivating themselves to get moving.

Anyone bored with their current walking soundtrack or podcast playlist.