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The Apple Watch will soon do a better job of tracking your workout at gyms — here's how

Todd Haselton
We tested new gym equipment enabled with GymKit, which allows you to sync your Apple Watch seamlessly with your workout machine. Here's how it works.

The Apple Watch does a fine job of tracking your exercise if you're running or walking around.

But it sometimes has trouble giving accurate readings if you work out at a gym -- for instance, it might not understand that you're climbing virtual stairs on a stair-stepper, or understand the incline on a cross-trainer or treadmill.

Workout machines don't give a particularly accurate view of your exercise on their own, either. Typically, people get on an exercise machine without entering in their height, weight, gender and age -- all details that are imperative to getting an accurate measurement of calories burned.

Apple is trying to change all that with its GymKit platform . It enables gym equipment makers, including Life Fitness and Technogym, to add new functions to treadmills, stepping machines and stationary bikes. If you're wearing an Apple Watch, you'll be able to tap a small area on the treadmill, begin working out, and all of the data on the machine and the watch will sync up.

You won't have to worry about manually starting or ending a workout on your Watch. At any moment while using a machine you can start the process, and all previous data from your workout will sync with your Apple Watch and Apple Health.

"We wanted to make this a smooth experience," Apple told CNBC in a briefing on Monday. "We wanted it to be as simple as Apple Pay. The idea of setting something up in public with Bluetooth pairing was a nonstarter. It had to be tap and go."

I tested Apple's claims and yes, it's just as simple as Apple Pay. I think fitness nuts are going to love it.


First you step up on a machine. In this case I'm standing on a treadmill.


Look for the "Connects to Apple Watch logo." If it has that, your machine is ready to go. Then, just tap your Apple Watch against the NFC reader. Wait for a chime to confirm the connection.


You'll get an alert the first time that asks if you're OK sharing data with the machine. After the first time, you can just tap and go.


Now you can choose to walk or run.


Or just hit any button on the treadmill to start a workout.


Now I'm moving and getting my heart rate up. The data on my watch....


Matches exactly with the data on my screen behind it.


When you're done you get a summary of your workout on your Apple Watch.

Overall, GymKit makes the Apple Watch a lot more useful for people who work out at gyms. It's super simple and unlike anything I've ever seen before.

There's only one problem: the technology is ready, but it'll take months or years to hit most gyms. Newer gyms from Lifetime Athletic, Equinox and others will launch with GymKit-enabled machines right away. Apple also said it's easy to retrofit older machines with modules that slip right into the back, so keep an eye out for the "Connect with Apple Watch" the next time you step on a treadmill.