Tim Cook talks health, fitness, and the importance of national parks

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Apple's CEO Tim Cook says Apple Park is like a national park, and its design encourages staff to keep fit — just as Apple hopes to assist with everyone with Apple Watch, and Apple Fitness+.

Tim Cook has talked with the Outside magazine's podcast about fitness, and did so while at Apple Park. "It'll be fairly quiet here today," he told podcast host Michael Roberts, "because we only have about 15%, give or take, of the folks working. Everybody else is remote."

"[Before the pandemic] you would see people riding bikes along here to get to one meeting to another," he continued. "You would see people walking. You would see some people exercising, you know, running and so forth because it's a two-and-a-half-mile track around the place."

He says that Apple Park was intentionally designed to promote exercise — "you put a couple of laps in, and you've got a good workout for the day" — as well as innovation.

"We have one cafe essentially in the building," he explained. "Everybody goes to the same place [but you do] have little coffee bars where people congregate. And these things not only get people moving, but they provide that serendipitous kind of discussion and collision of ideas that bring out innovation."

"This is like working in a national park for me, it provides that kind of feeling," he said. "Nature really inspires me and motivates me as it does the bulk of the people here. If you were to go inside the offices, you would see conference rooms named after national parks. I'm right around the corner from the Grand Canyon room."

Apple's plans for the future

Cook discussed the balance between creating innovative devices and then encouraging people to not look at them. "We do not want people using our products too much," he said. "We want to create them in such a way people get the most out of them in short periods of time to free themselves up to do whatever it is that they want to do."

As an example of what he likes to do, Cook revealed what he does after each of the company's legally-required financial calls. "When I do something like our quarterly earnings call, after the earnings call, I come out here," he said. "The sound of [Apple Park] and the look is unbelievable. Just the sound itself makes these big problems and big challenges of the day seem so small. "

Cook would naturally not be drawn on the specifics of the problems and challenges Apple is working on. Still, he did have an opinion about where Apple is in the industry — and in society.

"I think that we are on the front end of many things," he said. "[For instance, we're] on the front end of AR. AR is exciting to me because, unlike VR that becomes all-encompassing, AR allows us to have a conversation. So it enhances us. It doesn't get in the way of us."

Apple Park
Apple Park

"I'm excited about the democratization of health," he continued, "because I see that one of the issues with healthcare is inherently we've all outsourced the way we feel to our doctor. And I don't believe that model is going to get us to where we want to go."

"I think we have to take responsibility," he said. "But in order for us to take responsibility, we need information."

He said that the Apple Watch is the company's current focus for that information, and said that the product, "has a long future ahead of it."

The Outside podcast concluded its walking interview with Tim Cook near the pond in Apple Park, and host Michael Roberts asked about throwing coins into it.

"No," said Cook, "you won't see any coins in there. Well, nobody has any money here. We use Apple Pay."

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