How to connect your Apple Watch to a treadmill or exercise bike

Screenshots of the Peloton app on Apple Watch

Peloton Apple Watch app screens

(Image credit: Future / Apple / Peloton)

If you exercise with an Apple Watch outdoors, you‘ll know you can get all sorts of information about your workout as well as the usual heart rate, time, and calorie count. Runners get GPS-powered information about their pace, stride, and cadence, while cyclists can get more information about the speed traveled during the workout, and the power they put out. With watchOS 10, you can even turn your phone into a basic cycling computer.

However, when working out indoors on an exercise bike or treadmill, you don’t get to use GPS to generate more information about your exercise session. You can calibrate your Apple Watch to more effectively monitor your pace during treadmill runs, but for the most part, you’re restricted to the basic indoor exercise metrics of time, heart rate, and calorie count. 

It works both ways, too: unless you’re following an Apple Fitness Plus workout, the estimated heart rate and calorie burn shown to you on your fitness equipment will likely be wildly off, especially if you’re using a piece of equipment in your local gym. The data you’ll get from the machine alone is an estimation only based on averages, not the sensors you’ll find in an Apple Watch. 

Connecting your Apple Watch one of the best treadmills for Apple Fitness Plus or exercise bikes, through your Apple Watch's GymKit protocol, allows information to be shared both ways. The steps below will show you how to get your Apple Watch set up using GymKit.

How to connect your Apple Watch to a treadmill, exercise bike, or rower

Apple Watch gymkit

(Image credit: Future)
  1. First, Apple recommends you check your equipment is compatible. Most smart treadmills connected to the internet, including the ones in gyms, will be able to connect to your smartwatch. By diving into your equipment’s settings, you’ll see “connect to Apple Watch” or similar
  2. Open the Settings app on your Apple Watch
  3. Tap Workout
  4. Scroll down to Detect Gym Equipment and turn the slider to the on position
  5. Hold your Apple Watch up to the console or contactless reader on your gym equipment, with the display facing it
  6. You should hear a small beep once your watch is connected. Now, when you start a workout on your gym equipment, your watch should automatically begin recording a workout too

Connecting equipment with third-party apps 

Peloton Bike Lifestyle

(Image credit: Peloton)

Using the Apple Watch’s native Detect Gym Equipment setting isn’t the only way to exchange information with a piece of connected equipment. One prime example is Peloton, perhaps the most famous brand of connected gym kit. Peloton encourages you to run, cycle, and row on its equipment and take part in live workout classes, and although it used to use GymKit, it now forces you to use its app to share information with your watch instead, through its own system known as One-Tap Tracking.

To start One-Tap Tracking, make sure you have the Peloton app downloaded on your iPhone and Watch. Open the Peloton app on your Apple Watch and then start a workout on your Peloton machine (or on the app if you’re not using a device). Your Apple Watch will automatically present you with the option to track the workout on your Watch – one tap, and you’re away. 

Not sold on Peloton? Here's how to decide between Peloton and Apple Fitness Plus with a different exercise machine.


(Image credit: Hydrow)

Technogym, another very popular brand of exercise machines, has its own app, and you’re more likely to find Technogym kit in your local gym than you are to find Peloton machines. Simply download the Technogym Live app and enable Bluetooth and Apple Health permissions during setup. Just like the Peloton app, when you start an exercise on a paired Technogym device, it will automatically sync with Apple Health and provide detailed workout information.

NordicTrack and ProForm machines both use the iFIT app, a third-party fitness content app. Other popular exercise machine makers may require their own apps in order to connect your Apple Watch. For example, the excellent Hydrow rowing machine requires the Hydrow app, and the app prompts you to allow your Apple Watch to send your heart rate to Hydrow, as well as allowing the Hydrow app to both read and write Apple Health data. 

When choosing a gym or a machine for home use, it’s worth checking whether you can connect your Apple Watch by following the steps above, or whether you need additional third-party software to do so. 

Matt is a freelancer for iMore and TechRadar's expert on all things fitness, wellness and wearable tech. A former staffer at Men's Health, he holds a Master's Degree in journalism from Cardiff and has written for brands like Runner's World, Women's Health, Men's Fitness, LiveScience and Fit&Well on everything fitness tech, exercise, nutrition and mental wellbeing.

Matt's a keen runner, ex-kickboxer, not averse to the odd yoga flow, and insists everyone should stretch every morning. When he’s not training or writing about health and fitness, he can be found reading doorstop-thick fantasy books with lots of fictional maps in them.