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Like many people, I gained weight during the lockdown. Not only did I give in to comfort foods and food stress, but I also stopped exercising. On top of those extra pounds, I became slower and slower and slower as world events continued to depress me. This past October, I was mindlessly browsing Instagram when I saw an ad for To come up, an app that offered individual remote personal trainers. Intrigued, I signed up for a free trial. I’ve been there for several months now, and while I haven’t really lost a ton of weight, I feel a lot better than before. It costs a pretty dime ($ 150 per month), but I think I’ve finally found a fitness solution that works for me.
I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with exercise. I especially hate. I tried going to the gym several times, but it never got stuck. Group classes terrify me, and I’m generally intimidated by machines and weights. The only time I exercised with any regularity was when I had personal trainers, who not only held me accountable, but also mixed my exercises to never get bored.
Unfortunately personal trainers are expensive so I interrupted these sessions as well. I also chose to cancel my gym membership to save even more money. Instead, I invested in a Platoon (I know, it sounds counterintuitive, but paying for the bike on an installment plan was cheaper than my monthly gym fees). It worked for a while, but even then I couldn’t really force myself to get on the bike regularly. It seemed to me that my biggest obstacle to exercising was not just motivation, but responsibility.
That’s why I was first drawn to Future. After I registered, I was asked to choose a personal trainer. The app offers a range of choices with a short bio for each person. I chose Ashley mainly because she and I share an alma mater. Shortly after, she contacted me through the app and we set up a FaceTime video call to review the plan. Then, during the video call, I outlined my goals along with a list of various injuries that might make some exercises more difficult than others. For her part, she wanted to know what type of equipment I had at home so that she could send me the right workouts. I told him that I have some dumbbells, a yoga mat, a foam roller and a Peloton bike, and she said that was perfectly fine to start.
An interesting benefit of the Future service is that each member is offered an Apple Watch Series 3 on loan for the duration of their membership. You would deposit a deposit of $ 200, which you would then get back if you decide to cancel. Alternatively, you can pay the difference between the deposit and the retail price of the watch to purchase it directly.
The reason Future offers the Apple Watch is because it’s the primary way Future trainers know if you’re training and how well. I already had a Apple Watch Series 5, I therefore chose not to participate in the offer.
After the call, Ashley started sending me workout routines through the app. A typical workout would include a brief warm-up followed by several minutes of exercise, then stretches or foam rollers. Each routine is accompanied by a video instruction as well as a pre-recorded voice guide. Every now and then, Ashley would add verbal encouragement or some advice on how to keep in good shape. After every workout, Ashley can see my heart rate levels (thanks, Apple Watch), and I have the option to leave her feedback on how I think it went.
It was a bit difficult at first. I couldn’t do some of the workouts she had assigned (the jumps were a bit difficult due to plantar fasciitis, for example) and the routines sometimes lasted close to an hour, which was a bit too much for me. After some discussion, she agreed to shorten the routines to around 30 minutes, but to have more throughout the week (so instead of three times a week, it would be four). She also tweaked the workouts to better suit my needs, such as knee pushups instead of the regular workouts, and a general emphasis on low impact workouts which are much better for the aforementioned plantar fasciitis.
On top of that, Ashley was constantly texting me, either to remind me of my workouts or to ask me why I had skipped on a particular day. There were days when, despite feeling exhausted, I still snuck into a workout because I didn’t want Ashley to blame me the next morning.
Gallery: Sample Future Fit screenshots | 5 photos
Gallery: Sample Future Fit screenshots | 5 photos
After awhile I found myself working almost every day. (She eventually increased the routine to five days a week.) I actually started to enjoy it, so much so that I bought more workout gear (I bought a suspension trainer and one kettlebell), and asked Ashley to incorporate them into the routine so that I have more variety. She obliged, and I am currently very satisfied with the variety of training.
What I also like about the Future system is that I can train whenever I want, on my own schedule. Also, if I decide to take a group class or add some cardio to my routine, I can just add that without Ashley having to assign it.
Of course, as great as I think Future is, nothing beats having a personal trainer in person who can adapt to your workouts on the fly. I still have to count my own reps and make sure my form is correct by myself. But in times like these, when in-person contact with strangers is a bad idea, a fix like Future’s might be the best fit.