This fitness app shows Apple a better way to track my workouts

Three iPhones side by side with the Gentler Streak app running on each of them.
(Image credit: Future)

Ever since I was a child, I’ve loved staying active. That has continued into adulthood, and now I exercise daily using the Workout app on my Apple Watch. But as handy as this app is, there’s one issue with Apple’s approach that leaves me frustrated: it just seems incapable of ever giving me a day off.

I’m the type of person who hates to break a streak. Duolingo? 357 days. Knotwords? 698 days and counting. It’s safe to say that gamification works incredibly well on me.

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That means I’m desperate to keep my exercise streak going on my Apple Watch (current streak: 1,206 days). But what happens when you’re ill, injured, or just want a break? Like some sort of mad disciplinarian, Apple doesn’t allow rest days and instead insists that you must exercise every single day until the end of your life, without fail.

Let’s be honest here: it’s unrealistic to expect people to do this. People need time to rest – science tells us as much. Recovery is essential to building your health and fitness, yet it’s something Apple doesn’t seem to understand.

A person tracks a pickleball workout on an Apple Watch.

(Image credit: Apple)

Fortunately, I’ve found another app that does. It’s called Gentler Streak, and it epitomizes a completely different approach to exercise.

Unlike Apple’s app, Gentler Streak knows that people need time off. Sometimes, you’ll be exhausted and aching; sometimes, you’ll be ill, and sometimes, you’ll be on vacation. Whatever the reason, you won’t always be disposed to exercise, yet in Gentler Streak, this will not bring your streak crashing down. You can happily rest and pick things up the next day, guilt-free.

Better yet, Gentler Streak learns your body’s fitness level and then suggests subsequent activities that suit it best. If you took it easy one day, the app might recommend a harder workout the next. Or if you really pushed yourself over the weekend, come Monday Gentler Streak could suggest you try some yoga to give your body time to recover. It’s the flexible approach that Apple’s Workout app is so sorely lacking, and I’m incredibly grateful for it.

A better way to exercise

Three Apple Watches side by side with the Gentler Streak app running on each of them.

(Image credit: Future/Gentler Stories)

Gentler Streak’s central feature is the Activity Path. Unlike a standard workout app with a yes or no indication of whether you’ve added to your streak, Gentler Streak uses a green horizontal bar at the top of your screen. This bar is filled with a moving trend line of your workouts – more heavy-duty workouts push out of the top of the Activity Path, while less demanding ones might move the trend line below its bottom edge. Your goal is to complete workouts of just the right level to ensure your trend line stays within the green Activity Path.

It’s an extra layer that Apple’s Workout app never offers. There’s no guessing what sort of exercise you should do next, either – just look at your Activity Path and you’ll know whether to ramp it up or tone it down. And if you want some pointers, Gentler Streak offers suggestions for you to choose from.

When it’s time to track your exercises, Gentler Streak has you covered as well. Its Watch app is full of detailed metrics and beautifully designed info that’s easy to digest, even when you’re in the middle of working out. Whether you want to see heart rate zones or elevation changes, it’s all in there.

A person wearing an Apple Watch with the Gentler Streak app showing on the Watch face.

(Image credit: Future)

On the iPhone, you can dive deeper into your metrics to learn how you’re doing against previous months and years, how much you burned on each workout, where you went on an outdoor activity, and more. There are also well-being stats, tips, and insights like a monthly recap and advice on improving your form.

You can choose from a range of activities to start on your Watch (there are over 100 in the app) or pick one of the app’s Go Gentler recommendations. These are based on your previous workouts and are designed to ensure you stay within your body’s healthy range, with the intensity and duration listed before you start.

That all means that Gentler Streak feels like a workout app that understands regular people. It knows that not everyone can exercise every single day – often, life gets in the way. It also learns each user’s needs and adjusts accordingly, ensuring there’s always an appropriate workout ready to go.

The irony is that Apple championed this approach when it first launched the Apple Watch. Apple doesn’t encourage you to hit 10,000 steps a day because that’s a very difficult target for most of us, and if you push people too hard, they risk giving up on exercise altogether. If Apple wants to keep people fit without overdoing it, it would do well to learn from Gentler Streak.

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Alex Blake
Freelance Contributor

Alex Blake has been fooling around with computers since the early 1990s, and since that time he's learned a thing or two about tech. No more than two things, though. That's all his brain can hold. As well as TechRadar, Alex writes for iMore, Digital Trends and Creative Bloq, among others. He was previously commissioning editor at MacFormat magazine. That means he mostly covers the world of Apple and its latest products, but also Windows, computer peripherals, mobile apps, and much more beyond. When not writing, you can find him hiking the English countryside and gaming on his PC.