Siri is my workout partner

November 16, 2020

I’ve used Siri sporadically since the intelligent assistant was introduced on the iPhone 4S back in 2011, but never as part of a regular workflow.

Then—as I described in an earlier post—I started a daily dance party workout at my house.

I’ve been using Siri to keep in the flow of the workout and, except for a few minor issues noted below, Siri has been a great workout partner.

I wanted to share the ways I am using Siri during my daily workout that are working well for me. With the arrival of the HomePod mini this week, you might want to start a dance party of your own.

Are You Talking To Me?

During my workout, I’m talking to Siri on two different devices—a HomePod and an Apple Watch.

One thing about using “Hey Siri” in an Apple-centric household like mine, all sorts of devices within earshot (microphoneshot?) start listening. So, I have been getting used to activating Siri in device-specific ways.

On Apple Watch, I’ve been using the “Raise to Speak” feature. This allows me to raise my write and address Siri on the watch and only on the watch.
(Settings > Siri > Raise to Speak.)

On HomePod, I’m using “Hey Siri” to activate.

Getting Rolling

Siri is a great way to start and stop workouts on Apple Watch.

When the music starts playing, I want to start my workout without a lot of fiddling around with the watch interface.

So, when the dance party starts, I can just get up and start dancing, raise my wrist and say “Start dance workout”.

The workout starts, and I of course, exclaim “Dance Party!” like an overenthusiastic kid in a 1970s board game commercial. Siri’s not involved with that outburst at all. That’s just for me.

Managing Playlists While In The Flow

That’s about all I use Siri for on the watch until the end of the workout. More on that later.

During the workout, I use Siri on the HomePod a lot during the dance party.

Sometimes you’re just not in the mood for a particular song. “Hey Siri, next song” comes in handy.

Other times you’re really in the mood to dance to a particular song so “Hey Siri, play again” is fairly common.

And then sometimes, as I go, I think of a song that isn’t on my Dance playlist. A recent example is Love Shack by the B-52’s.

“Hey Siri, play Love Shack” gets the song going.

“Hey Siri, add to Dancing playlist” makes sure the song gets added.

One little bump in the workflow is that HomePod is nowplaying a single song, not the playlist. So when the song is over I do need to call out “Hey Siri, play Dancing playlist”.

One thing Siri doesn’t seem to be able to do is skip to a song in a playlist by name. I’ve filed that feature request with Apple (FB8898901). So, for now, if there’s a particular song in the playlist I want to hear, I end up saying “Hey Siri, next song” repeatedly.

Just these few Siri commands make it easy to add new songs as I think of them and manage what’s playing without interrupting the flow of my workout.

Cool Down

When I’m done with the dance workout, after about 20 - 25 minutes, I tell the HomePod “Hey Siri, Stop Music” and raise my wrist to “Stop workout”.

Next up is a cool down workout where I do some stretching.

Once I’m situated on the floor, I raise my wrist again and “Start cool down workout”. On occasion Siri doesn’t understand what a ‘cool down workout’ is and I need to repeat myself.

I do each stretch for a certain amount of time, so I raise my wrist and “Set timer for four minutes” with the desired time for each stretch. I could also ask the HomePod to start a timer, but I like glancing at my watch to see how much time is left, as opposed to asking HomePod to tell me.

Once I’m done, I just raise my wrist again and “End workout”.

Thanks Partner

Overall, I’ve been very happy with how I’m able to manage my workouts, play music, and manage my playlists without having to stop exercising to focus on interacting with a graphical interface.

Nothing is perfect of course. In addition to minor issues I’ve already mentioned, sometimes I need to cover the watch face and lower my wrist and raise it again to get Siri to listen. But this is still less fiddly and error prone than trying to get a workout started on screen while also trying to get the dance party started.

Minor issues aside, the handful of Siri commands I’ve detailed above has really helped get me started exercising daily, with the technology keeping me in the flow instead of serving as a distraction. I’m sure as time goes on I’ll continue to refine my routine.

If you have have favorite Siri tips or suggestions you’d like to share, I’d love to hear them. Free to mention them to me on Twitter or •