Future – A Personal Trainer App for the Apple Watch

I’ve been using the Future fitness training app for over one month now. So, as promised, I’m back to give you all the details from that time and a full review of the app. For those that missed my initial post that introduced the app, I’ll try to hit the main points again here.

I’ll start with the company’s own words.

“Not just an app, not just a personal trainer. Future combines the best of personal training with the flexibility to work out anytime at home, in the gym, outside or on the road.

Future matches you with one of the best personal trainers in the country who builds workouts just for you, based on your goals, your fitness level and any equipment you have access to.”

There’s obviously some marketing fluff in there, but I think the previous statement is actually a decent summary of the app. Future’s service is an attempt to provide you with the experience of a personal trainer through a digital platform (hence the part about anytime and anywhere). There are other training apps on the App Store, but many of them rely on artificial intelligence (opposed to a real live human trainer) to generate workouts for you and canned messages to try to movtivate you. At every stage of the process, you feel the personalized element of Future – from the starting point where you clarify your goals and the type of trainer you’d like, the way workouts are planned, all the way to the feedback that you get before and after your workouts.

Joining the Service

When you first join Future, the app walks you through a set of question to establish your level of experience with fitness, your training goals, and what type of personal trainer you prefer. Once you’ve answered all of the setup questions, the app recommends three different personal trainers to you that it thinks are a good fit for you. You get information about each trainers background, specialties, certifications, what they love, and where they’re located.

So far, I have now had two different trainers because my original trainer is now on paternity leave. I’ve been impressed with both of them and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend either one. The transition between them was smooth and easy. My original trainer, Tyler, met with me to let me know that he’d be going on paternity leave soon and discussed the transition with me. He also prepared thorough notes for my new, temporary trainer, so that he’d be aware of everything. Both Tyler and AJ mesh well with my personality and what I want in a personal trainer. All that to say, my experience has been great with Future’s personal trainers, and I think that whichever of the three trainers you pick upfront will likely be great.

The description of the app in the App Store doesn’t explicitly state this, but you really need an Apple Watch to use the service. As a matter of fact, they provide a method of renting an Apple Watch if you don’t already own one for an upfront deposit of $199. Future will replace any broken or malfunctioning watches, but you’ll be out your deposit if you lose the watch or it’s stollen. Unfortunately, if you go this route, you’ll be getting a very long-in-the-tooth Series 3. I’m sure they chose to go that route for cost reasons. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. It is a bad decision to spend any money on an Apple Watch Series 3 in 2022. Just buy your own and get at minimum an Apple Watch SE. The Series 3 is lesser in every way, and it’s noticeable. If you have the $199 to drop on renting a Series 3, you’ll be better served to just spend a little more and buy the SE or get a used Series 4, 5, or 6. All four of those are much better in multiple ways.

Prior to starting your program, Future sends out a welcome package to you that includes a snazzy water bottle and (if you paid to rent one) a Series 3 Apple Watch. I’m not sure if it’s always timed this way, but I actually received mine from UPS on the very day that my training program started. The welcome package is a nice touch and the water bottle actually feels like good quality, unlike some of the super cheap ones that companies often give out for free.

Digging in to Your Workout Plan

Based on the goals, fitness experience, and your time and equipment availability, your trainer will design a weekly training plan of exercises for you. I can’t speak too much into what the plan would look like for other goals, but mine was to get leaner and more toned. Therefore, my plan involves a lot of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) circuit training where my heart rate stays high for the majority of my workouts. My trainer mixed up my days between pulling and pushing motions. Since I have a full gym membership, my exercises involve various types of equipment, mostly using dumbbells, barbells, pulleys, plyometric boxes (jumping boxes), resistance bands, treadmills, spin bikes, stair machines, and ellipticals. There could be other equipment that gets incorporated later on, but this is what I have used so far.

Your own training plan will likely look different, depending on your own goal. For example, if you’re trying to build muscle mass and bulk up, I’d guess that your plan will involve higher weight and lower reps. I’d also expect that you’d likely be using barbells much more than me. You’ll also probably have longer rest periods between sets compared to what I have been doing. You may be more or less experienced than me with strength training, which also will impact the design of your training plan. It all comes down to the personal element of Future. Everything is designed around you, specially.

Similarly, the timing and length of your workouts will depend on the experience and time availability that you’ve discussed with your trainer. For me personally, I am currently in graduate school and have evening classes twice a week. As a result, my trainer schedules my longer workouts on the days of the week on which I don’t have classes. The days I have class, we decided to schedule in shorter cardio sessions where I choose what I do. Somedays this is a run and somedays it’s a walk. It just depends on what my day looks like. The point is that the schedule is built around me.

Workouts and the App

If you don’t want to don’t want to lug your phone around the gym or on your outdoor workout, you can leave it behind and still access all of the apps’ features on your Apple Watch. I personally tend to bring my phone because I just find it quicker to do certain things on it and because it results in less battery loss for my Apple Watch. But it’s always nice to have the option to use the Apple Watch, by itself, for those that prefer not to bring their phone. So many people long for the Apple Watch to be more of a stand-alone device, and apps that work fully without an iPhone present are a step in that direction.

Rather than list out every single option and screen on the iPhone and Apple Watch apps for Future, I’m just going to provide screenshots for both sides. Essentially, the main screen shows your current workout stats like time, distance (if applicable), current pace (if applicable), average pace (if applicable), split times (if applicable), and heart rate. From there, you can also access a screen that shows you a list of all the different exercises in your current workout. It’s within this screen that you can adjust your weight amounts or number or reps (if necessary), see an example video clip of the exercises, hear a guide explain the exercise to you, and see your history for that specific exercise. Lastly, there’s a screen that controls your music on the Apple Watch and a screen that has built-in music on the iPhone.

A nice touch to the app during workouts is that your personal trainer will sometimes place recorded messages at a certain point in the workout to explain something or to motivate you. This adds another nice personal touch to the experience and is helpful, especially when your trainer has made a tweak to an exercise that the app can’t demonstrate or explain. Also, a healthy dose of motivation towards the end of a hard set never hurts!

In terms of music, you can either play your own music through another app or use the built-in music player in the Future app. Just know that there aren’t many options for music in the Future app. I heavily have preferred to use my own music in Apple Music. When you’re listening to music, the audio cues and recordings function the exact same way as Apple Maps does when Siri gives you directions. The music quiets down to where the voice of the speaker is louder and clearly audible, but you can still faintly hear it in the background. Once the audio cue/recording finishes, your music returns to the set volume level.

After your workout, the iPhone app will show you specific statistics, based on the type of workout that you completed. If you did an indoor workout, you’re mostly going to see the calories burned, time, and heart rate information. If the indoor exercise was a walk or run, you’ll get distance and pace information. As is common with most workout apps, you’ll get more data from outdoor exercises that use GPS. An outdoor run, for example, will show you time, distance, pace, heart rate statistics, elevation gain, and mile splits. You’ll also get a chart that overlays your heart rate, pace, and elevation.

Your personal trainer will also get feedback about your workout, so that they know how it went and can track your progress. I’m not positive if what they get looks identical to what you see in your post-workout recap. I just know that my trainers have often commented on my performance and also mentioned things about my heart rate trends. Back to what I said earlier about the benefit of wearing an Apple Watch. Your trainer only gets this information if you were wearing one. The app says that it is compatible with other services like Strava, MapMyFitness, Nike Run Club, Peloton, and others. I haven’t tried to rely on one of those exclusively though. My guess is that your trainer will see whatever information Apple Health receives from the platform that you used. That’s what has happened when I have used Apple’s Workout app or something like Zones. The key is making sure that the platform is compatible with Apple Health.

Communicating with Your Trainer

The Future app has a built in messaging page where your personal trainer sends you messages and/or videos and where you can send the same to them. Every trainer will most likely have personal differences, but I’ve found that both of my trainers have been adequately communicative with me. Typically, you can probably expect to at least hear from your trainer before a workout and at some point after them. I’ve learned that it’s important to take initiative and initiate communication yourself if you need to change something in your workout schedule, have questions or want to discuss a concern. Both of my trainers have been very responsive and let me know if they’re going to be unreachable for any period of time, whether that be time off or a holiday.

It’s really a two-way street here. The trainers do a good job trying to tailor things to what you’ve told them, but they can’t read your mind and don’t see you in person. So let them know if you’re not feeling well or have something come up in your schedule that requires moving things around.

I’ve had a few FaceTime video calls with both trainers, as well, and it works well. Both trainers arranged a FaceTime call at the start of our relationship and to discuss important transitions (like my initial trainer leaving for paternity leave). You have the ability to go in the app and schedule a FaceTime call with them at any time, based on the availability that the app gives you for your trainer. Just like the messaging feature, I recommend that you take advantage of this. The communication piece to the service is key to its value. After all, that’s what makes it most viable as an alternative to classic personal trainers in the flesh. Obviously, they’re not your personal assistant and won’t necessarily answer/respond instantly, but I’ve always gotten replies back within a reasonable amount of time.

Accomplishing Your Goal

Now to the big question. Has the service and accompanying app helped me reach my goal? Well, it’s only been just over a month, so I don’t expect to have seen major results yet. Like any exercise program, the benefits are proportional to what you put into it. I’ve had a lot of sickness with my kids throughout the program and different scheduling challenges come up. Unfortunately, that means that I have missed more workouts than I’d otherwise have missed. I’ve hit most of them, but there are weeks were I miss 1to 2 out of 6.

I keep pretty close tabs on my health metrics, and one thing that I have noticed is that my resting heart rate has steadily continued to increase throughout the program, while my heart rate variability has decreased often. At times, I’ve worried that perhaps I am pushing too hard too fast and that my body isn’t adapting well. It’s just hard to know when your kids are sick every two weeks and often share the joy with you! I gave some feedback to the company that some feature to help the trainers see this information would be valuable, so that they can make sure they’re pushing you at the right intensity.

Based on the amount of time and exertion from the scheduled exercised, I feel confident that I’ll reach my goal of toning up my muscles and getting leaner. There’s two sides to that equation though, one that involves the workouts and another that involves my diet. I’m sure that if I cut out most sugars from my diet, I’d likely see more muscle definition. For now though, I am good with just being healthy and feeling good. I’m not competing for anything and don’t won’t to get too strict on my diet.

I will say one thing for sure, using the service and having a personal trainer has absolutely motivated me to work harder and longer than I usually do. That’s a positive thing for the most part. Occasionally, it’s a negative on the days where I am really stretched for time but feel like I have to fit in my workout. You might think that’s a good thing, but it can cause issues when it affects others or when you genuinely don’t have time.

Future will congratulate you through e-mail and the app, once you reach certain milestones, which is a nice touch. It’s not an especially unique feature, as almost every fitness app does it. Nonetheless, it’s done well and is a must have feature, in my opinion, for any app that is trying to help keep you motivated and encouraged on fitness. So many people start out with a lofty goal when it comes to fitness, and they end up quitting really quickly. Helping them know that they are making progress and showing it to them makes a big difference.


Now on to a very important topic – pricing. Future is a subscription service, as you probably already guessed, which runs for $149 a month. On the one hand, that’s almost certainly cheaper than what you’d pay for an in-person, personal trainer at a gym. On the other hand, it’s definitely a steep price for an app. What you have to keep in mind is that you’re not paying for just the app and software. You’re paying to have a real person guide you. In other words, you’re paying for a service and not just a product.

I honestly think that the price for the service is very fair and provides great value. It makes a big difference to have someone that really knows what they’re doing help you along your fitness journey – even if that’s just for a season. A professional trainer can suggest exercises that you’re not familiar with and just help you stay motivated and focused. If you’re like me, it’s also awesome to have someone else do most of the mental work of thinking through what you should focus on each day. You just need to stay in tune with how you’re feeling each day and make sure that you’re truly ready for what’s planned.


In closing, I’d absolutely recommend Future to anyone who can afford it, who wants the help of a personal trainer, and/or who doesn’t have the time or money to get an in-person personal trainer. The service mostly achieves its aim, which is to provide a convenient and flexible personal trainer experience through a digital platform while utilizing the technology of the Apple Watch.

There are definitely elements of a training program that you’re going to lose by going digital. Like I mentioned earlier, your trainer doesn’t have eyes on you for each session to accurately gauge how you’re doing in terms of readiness and fatigue and also in terms of your form for each exercise. You have to really take ownership of those things and send messages to let them know how you’re doing or send a video of yourself doing the exercise if you want feedback on your form. I’m not sure there’s really any way to avoid those shortcomings when using a digital training platform. Sure, they could do live sessions with you, but that would most definitely drive up the price significantly. Also, are you going to hold or place your phone camera up so that they can see everything you’re doing at all times during the workout? That sounds cumbersome to me.

If you have the time and money, I think it’s worth considering if an in-person trainer would suit you better – especially if you’re a beginner who’s new to exercising. Going this route will help make sure that you’re establishing good habits with form and make sure that you’re progressing at the proper speed that is safe and effective.

If you don’t have the time or money for an in-person trainer, definitely give Future a try. For the price, which is definitely not on the cheap end, I think that the strengths of the app and service make up for those few shortcomings. The trainers are detailed and responsive and truly make an effort to tailor your workout plan to the goals and information that you give them. The two that I have had have both even encouraged me to send as much feedback as necessary. The company is also running a free, 30 day trial period at the moment. If you have an American Express credit card, you may be eligible, as I was, for two free months courtesy of AMEX.

Let me know in the comments if you have any questions or want to know about anything that I missed.

Thanks for reading!

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