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mikedop

macrumors 603
Original poster
Dec 30, 2019
5,773
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Oklahoma
I've spent more time than I'd care to admit researching these two challenges, and since there's not a lot of public information on them, I figured I'd write it all down here in case anyone else trying to research comes across this thread. It's a pretty niche thing to collect or really care about, so having as much information as you can is helpful. So for the other 5 or 6 people out there who collect them, here's everything I know about the Close Your Rings and Mindful Minutes challenges, collecting information for (as of writing this) 3 years.



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Close Your Rings

The Close Your Rings Challenge, formerly known as the Close The Rings Challenge, is an internal challenge hosted by Apple's Wellness team, which challenges employees to close their Apple Watch activity rings every day for an entire month. The challenge can be won at three different tiers: gold, silver, and bronze. These tiers are dependent on the number of days you actually close all three rings, and are reflected in your prize's challenge card. Employees log their fitness in their Apple Watch, and after the month, are shipped a prize if they meet the qualifications. This challenge is offered to all employees within Apple, down to the retail level. From 2017 through 2019, the challenge was hosted in February for heart month. With the 2020 Coronavirus pandemic, however, the challenge was delayed to June, when it also took place in 2021. It's February 2nd of 2022 as I'm writing this, and there's been no mention of the challenge by Apple yet, so it's presumed to take place in June this year as well.



2017: Close The Rings 1.0

In 2017, Close Your Rings' first year, employees were able to compete for a T-shirt with a simple ring design on it. This design depicts the three Apple Watch rings filled completely. On the back, text is printed reading "Close The Rings 1.0" with an accompanying Apple logo on the left sleeve.

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Along with this shirt, employees who completed the 2017 Close The Rings 1.0 challenge received a celebratory card (which we will call a "challenge card" as that's what I've always called them) which read the following:

Welcome to the winner's circle.

You did it. You completed the Close The Rings Challenge, and this badge is proof. Wear it, display it, or place it on your fridge. Let it be a reminder that even though the Challenge is over, your healthier lifestyle is just beginning.

This challenge card came wrapped in plastic, and contained a magnetic pin in either gold, silver, or bronze, depending on which tier the winner reached. This magnetic pin has text reading " Close The Rings Challenge 1.0" laser etched onto the back, and comes with a small, round magnet to attach it to clothes. (Side note: this magnet is... well, cheap. Mine chipped just by sticking it to another magnet.)

MacRumors reported on this challenge. You can read the article here: 2017 Close The Rings Challenge 1.0

2018: Close Your Rings 2.0

In 2018, Close Your Rings' second year, employees were able to compete for an exclusive Apple Watch band. This band, in Apple's Woven Nylon style, would be offered in both 38mm and 42mm, which were the two available Apple Watch case sizes at the time. The band is an all black design, with black hardware, matching 2016's New Zealand Woven Nylon from the International Collection. The key difference is the keeper, which on the 2018 Close your Rings band, features three blocks of color: blue, green, and red. These colors, of course, to represent the three Apple Watch activity rings.

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it was in this year which Apple collectors, most notably Apple Watch band collectors, started to pay attention to the challenge. The Close Your Rings Woven Nylon was the second ever employee exclusive Apple Watch band. This exclusivity combined with the unique design lead to a high demand for the band on secondhand markets like eBay, where prices went as high as $250. The Close Your Rings 2018 prize came with a challenge card as well, this time in a book-like style, with the text on the outside and the band stuck to the card on the inside. The text, sitting on the front below a metallic silhouette of the activity rings in either gold, silver or bronze, read the following:
Closure. At last.

You did it. You completed the Close Your Rings Challenge, and this band is proof. Put it on your wrist. Let it go straight to your head. You've earned it. Wear it, flaunt it, feel free to sweat all over it. It's yours.
MacRumors reported on this challenge. You can read the article here: 2018 Close Your Rings Challenge
Additionally, MacRumors posted an update to this challenge here:2018 Close Your Rings Challenge - Update


2019: Close Your Rings 3.0

In 2019, Apple decided to continue on the trend of Apple Watch bands, and released another activity ring inspired band, this time in the Sport Loop style. This Sport Loop was comparable to the retail version, with the difference being the plastic lugs and tongue (black on the retail version) being replaced with vivid colors, based on the activity rings. The lugs were changed to be red and blue representing movement and stand rings, while the tongue was changed to a yellow color to represent the exercise ring. Offered in both 40mm and 44mm sizes, this band once again reached high prices on secondhand sites like eBay due to its exclusivity and unique design.

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Employees who would win this band received it on a black challenge card, in the same book style as the previous band. Once again, this card featured a metallic silhouette of the activity rings, in either gold, silver, or bronze.

The band's all here.

And it's all yours. Congratulations! You completed the Close Your Rings Challenge.


While it may be difficult to wrap your mind around your accomplishment, it's easy to wrap this around your wrist.
So go ahead. This limited edition Apple Watch band is yours to keep.

Wherever you're inspired to go, be sure to keep going. And let the colors on your wrist serve as a subtle reminder that greatness is always at hand.

MacRumors reported on this challenge. You can read the article here: 2019 Close Your Rings Challenge

2020: Close Your Rings 4.0

In 2020, Apple intended to launch the Close Your Rings Challenge in February once again, but due to the pandemic and lockdowns, Apple decided to delay the challenge as employees were confined to their homes and had less chance to close their rings. The challenge picked back up in June, however, and employees were now able to compete for an activity rings-inspired graphic reading "2020" made up of movement, exercise, and stand rings.

Unfortunately, it seems Apple had moved away from the Apple Watch bands as potential prizes for the challenges. While there's no official reason for this from the Wellness team, it could be for a number of reasons. My guess, Apple doesn't want employees to be selling their prizes. With the Apple Watch bands, secondhand demand was much higher as the bands were more collectable and favored than shirts. This lead to more employees listing them than the shirts, and Apple might have discontinued the bands to try to reduce the amount of reselling.

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The 2020 Close Your Rings shirt came with a challenge card made out of what I assume to be a sort of recycled cardstock. This challenge card read the following, with the "Celebrate" changing color depending on your tier of completion:

Celebrate.

You have come full circle, but the best remains: healthier habits and connections that will far outlast this challenge.
Oh, and this T-shirt. Put it on your body. Dress it up. Dress it down. Whatever you do, wear it proudly.

It was made for you.
MacRumors reported on this challenge. You can read the article here: 2020 Close Your Rings Challenge
Additionally, MacRumors posted an update to this challenge here: 2020 Close Your Rings Challenge - Update

2021: Close Your Rings 5.0

In 2021, Apple celebrated the fifth anniversary of the Close Your Rings Challenge. For this milestone, the Wellness team commissioned Sunscope, a company based out of Commerce, California specializing in the promotional products industry, to create a set of three microfiber "towels" that depict designs using the activity rings' three key colors. These designs include a giant "21" printed out of red, yellow-green, and blue lines, a mostly black towel featuring red, green, and blue pinstriped along the sides, and a third design simply featuring three fully filled activity rings, though with only half of the ring visible. Each towel has a tag sewn onto it, which features an Apple logo on one side and a set of activity rings on the other.

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These towels came packaged in a box, a first for the Close Your Rings Challenge. The box takes after Apple's retail packaging, depicting a plain white design with a simple drawing of three filled activity rings on the top. The challenge card for this prize came attached to the box with some sticky tack that can be easily removed.

Let the good times roll.

Congratulations on completing the fifth anniversary Close Your Rings Challenge. Throw your towels in the air, and wave them around --
because you absolutely care about your body, your health, and your teammates.

Plus, those healthier habits and human connections you absorbed during the challenge will benefit you long after it's over.
So unroll the possibilities. You earned it.

The towel set was designed by a subsidiary of Sunscope USA, under the name of "Designed in Los Angeles" which calls itself DiLA for short. You can access renders of the designs featured on the towels through DiLA's catalog here: DiLA Towels Catalog




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Mindful Minute

The Mindful Minute Challenge is a lesser known challenge offered to employees by Wellness. In this challenge, employees just log a certain number of mindful minutes to qualify. Once again, this challenge can be won at three tiers; gold, silver, and bronze. The Mindful Minute Challenge takes place in October, and prizes usually focus on comfort and relaxation. Employees can log minutes in their Apple Watch, or through the health app. Through my research, I've found that the Mindful Minute Challenge has a far lower budget than Close Your Rings, and while it's also offered to all employees down to the retail level, this seems to exclude certain departments, as they don't receive invites.


2017: Mindful Minute 1.0

The Mindful Minute Challenge started off in October of 2017, where employees could compete to win a journal. The journal is an all black design that features a debossed Apple logo on the bottom center front cover. At the top, front and center is the Mindfulness icon, which is also debossed. This icon is color-coded to your completion tier, and so journals can be found with either gold, silver, or bronze icons on the front. This is the only prize (so far) where the completion tier is represented in the actual prize. All other prizes only show the tier through the challenge cards, usually with select text offering a metallic sheen. The journal is made by Spector & Co., a promotional products company.

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The challenge card for this prize, rather than being an actual "card," is represented by a paper keeper that circles the journal. The paper can be either slid off the book by pulling it down, or can be removed by a pull tab. Here's what it says:

See what you can do when you put your mind to it?

Congratulations. The Mindful Minute Challenge wasn't easy, but you stuck with it. We hope you were encouraged by the benefits of simply being in the moment, because that's something you can take into the rest of your life. And here's a little something from Wellness--a journal.
Think of it as the complement to mindfulness: a place where your thoughts can run wild.

I should mention that I don't know for sure on this one. The journal is the most confusing part of the entire Mindful Minute Challenge, because there's nothing on it. I couldn't find any information on it be it through an article, posts by employees showing it off, mentions of it across forums, social media, and generally, the internet as a whole. I've placed it here as this is where I assume it to fit into the timeline, but I do not know for certain. If you have any more information on this, I'd appreciate it if you let me know.


2018: Mindful Minute 2.0
For the second year of Mindful Minute, Apple partnered with the meditation app 10% Happier and offered employees the option to use 10% to log their minutes. For this year, the prize to be offered was a shirt very similar to the 2017 Close The Rings 1.0 shirt, just with the rings changed to the mindfulness icon, and with the text on the back obviously changing to Mindful Minute Challenge.

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I need to invest in a lint roller.

This shirt came with a very plain challenge card, only showing the mindfulness icon and some text, which I unfortunately can't transcribe as the only photo I've seen of it appears to have been removed. (If you have a photo of it or own one yourself, please reply with a photo! We'd love to see it.)

MacRumors reported on this challenge. You can read the article here: 2018 Mindful Minute Challenge


2019: Mindful Minute 3.0
2019 offered employees to win the biggest prize yet, literally. Those who completed the 2019 Mindful Minute challenge received a soft fleece blanket. The blanket measures four feet by six feet in size (4x6) and contains no designs except for an embroidered mindfulness icon and Apple logo in a light teal. This is the design language Apple would use for the challenge from then on. The mindfulness icon, much like the journal's debossing, had been simplified to six thin interlocking circles themselves placed in a circle, resembling the pedals of a flower.

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The blanket came sealed in a plastic bag, much like the shirts before it, and contained a white challenge card with gold, silver, or bronze lettering, and had this text on it:

We've Got You Covered.

Congratulations on completing the Mindful Minute Challenge. Hopefully you've noticed the benefits -- to both mind and body -- that just a few minutes of calm and presence can bring. And to encourage you to keep at it, here's a cozy and blissfully soft blanket to make your next mindful minutes even more enjoyable.

The 2019 Mindful Minute Challenge seems to have been the most popular of the series, as personally, I see blankets sell on eBay far more than the rest of the prizes.


2020: Mindful Minute 4.0
In 2020, Apple decided to return to shirts and gave the prize of a black, long sleeve shirt with the same mindfulness icon to anyone who completed the challenge. This shirt, much like the blanket, had the design embroidered onto the front, in the same light teal color. additionally, the text "Mindful Minute Challenge 2020" can be found embroidered onto the back, with additional embroidery found on the left sleeve in an Apple logo.

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The challenge card for this shirt was the first in the Mindful Minute family to feature color artwork, along with the text. On this card, you can find a cloud-like shape in a blue-green gradient with the mindfulness icon outlined in white.

Take Comfort.

Well done on completing the Mindful Minute Challenge. We hope you found the experience rewarding and that you'll continue forward on your mindfulness journey. Ant to help keep you going, here's your soft, cozy, limited-edition T-shirt.


2021: Mindful Minute 5.0
For the 5th anniversary of Apple's Mindful Minute challenge, Wellness once again commissioned Sunscope to create their prize. Unlike with Close Your rings, however, Sunscope did not create the prize from scratch. DiLA (Designed in Los Angeles, a design team within Sunscope) previously had the beanie design that was used for the Mindful Minute prize already created, so all they had to do was change the color of the materials and stitch the Apple logo onto the tag, while having the Mindfulness icon stitched on the other side. The design features an all black exterior with a light teal inside.

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Also like the Close Your Rings 2021 towel set, the Mindful Minute 2021 beanie came packaged inside a plain white box with the exception of the new mindfulness icon on the top, which had been simplified to a single, clean line. On the box, there was a challenge card tacked on to the side featuring another color printing. This time, it was the simplified mindfulness icon printed in the bottom right corner. The text on the challenge card once again congratulated employees on completing the challenge.

Head into the present

Hats off -- or in this case, on! You've earned this cozy, limited-edition beanie for successfully completing the Mindful Minute Challenge.
We hope this journey has helped you become a more mindful, more present you.



As of now, that's all that Apple offers for these two challenges. When new ones come out, though, I'll be sure to update the thread.

As a bonus, the shirt that features in my 2018 Close Your rings photo was offered to the public in late 2016 at the Apple Company Store in Cupertino, CA. As you could imagine, it's pretty rare to come by--actually rarer than the Close Your Rings shirts. It features six straight lines, once again, in the theme of activity rings.

All photos featured are of my own collection. If you'd like to see more photos, just reply and I can try to take some when I have the time.
 
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mikedop

macrumors 603
Original poster
Dec 30, 2019
5,773
12,343
Oklahoma
As a further spiral in my decent into madness, Apple's Wellness Team wasn't founded in 2017 as these two competitions would imply, as I've found examples of Wellness Challenge pins from both 2015 & 2016. It's likely that these pins inspired the Close The Rings Challenge pin, which sadly, was the last ever pin we've gotten from Wellness.

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This photo comes from an eBay listing, which I have purchased and the seller has shipped. The seller has no feedback and the tracking number looks a little suspicious though, so my expectations for actually getting the package are very low.

As of now, not a lot is known about the challenges. I'm not too sure when exactly they were given out or how you won them, or even if other things came with the pins, so if anyone knows, feel free to drop a reply.
 

mikedop

macrumors 603
Original poster
Dec 30, 2019
5,773
12,343
Oklahoma
As a further spiral in my decent into madness, Apple's Wellness Team wasn't founded in 2017 as these two competitions would imply, as I've found examples of Wellness Challenge pins from both 2015 & 2016. It's likely that these pins inspired the Close The Rings Challenge pin, which sadly, was the last ever pin we've gotten from Wellness.

View attachment 1959385

This photo comes from an eBay listing, which I have purchased and the seller has shipped. The seller has no feedback and the tracking number looks a little suspicious though, so my expectations for actually getting the package are very low.

As of now, not a lot is known about the challenges. I'm not too sure when exactly they were given out or how you won them, or even if other things came with the pins, so if anyone knows, feel free to drop a reply.
I forgot to update the thread when I got mine in, but they're real and they're mine. Side note, if anyone else is looking for these, looks like you've got a lot of savings to put together! Here's a set for $300+

 

mikedop

macrumors 603
Original poster
Dec 30, 2019
5,773
12,343
Oklahoma
I wanna cook a whole slab of meat on a gyrating spit and then plop it in there for Ventura-based picnic adventures.
I suppose it wouldn't be impossible. The price tag on this thing through eBay is quite a lot though. I think these pics are from a $149 listing?
 

mikedop

macrumors 603
Original poster
Dec 30, 2019
5,773
12,343
Oklahoma
Interestingly, the Close Your Rings Challenge has been pushed back yet again, it's not set to take place in June according to a friend of mine. Maybe July?
 

athousandbands

macrumors G3
Jun 5, 2019
9,359
32,290
Discord
I'm curious to finds out.

Apple's still sticking to Sunscope for their Wellness prizes as recently as Eat Well's cooler bag, so I assume if it's not a shirt, more towels?

prooobably gonna be a shirt, though.
When are you gonna find out who’s behind the Fitness+ meditation frippery
 

mikedop

macrumors 603
Original poster
Dec 30, 2019
5,773
12,343
Oklahoma
Employees are finally starting to receive their Close Your Rings jackets! These photos come from bsgarst91 on eBay and show us a closer look at the pullover. Unlike the 2021 towel set, it doesn't appear that the pullover is made by Sunscope, so Apple might have parted ways with them. We'll see what the Mindful Minute prize is around the beginning of November if they don't take forever to ship prizes out again.

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We also get a look at the challenge card, which is black this year just like last year, this time featuring the three monochrome rings surrounded by swoops of color to match the activity rings.

Hooray! You did it.

Congrats on finishing the Close Your Rings challenge with flying colors. We hope this journey has inspired you to keep the momentum going (and your body moving). Wear this Apple-branded pullover shirt as a reminder to keep on closing those rings -- you've earned it.
 
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mikedop

macrumors 603
Original poster
Dec 30, 2019
5,773
12,343
Oklahoma
This shirt came with a very plain challenge card, only showing the mindfulness icon and some text, which I unfortunately can't transcribe as the only photo I've seen of it appears to have been removed. (If you have a photo of it or own one yourself, please reply with a photo! We'd love to see it.)
Found the card to the 2018 Mindful Minute challenge!

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