Like many others, when the world shut down I wanted to order a Peloton. I made a bet that if I finally completed P90X after 8 years — only then I would order the bike.
While I won, I failed to realize that nobody was going to motivate me to get on the bike. Two years later I sold it for less than half the cost.
Over the last few years I’ve also used rowers and treadmills at home. What I discovered was that I wasn’t lacking equipment — I needed accountability.
Enter Future — the fitness platform where you hand-pick a coach that designs and personalizes your workouts. Through an Apple Watch, your coach can view the results and you stay in touch via messaging where they check-in on you and are available to answer your questions.
Rishi Mandal, Future co-founder and CEO
During my interview with Future co-founder and CEO, Rishi Mandal, he shared his observation of some of the most critical areas of our lives that impact our health.
“Those five things are how you move, eat, sleep, deal with stress, and whether or not you take your medications. Turns out that Americans are horribly non-compliant about taking their meds.
Behavior compounded over decades can potentially send you in a very different direction. If you can just get yourself activated to move a few more times per week that can create an entirely different outcome over time,” Rishi explained.
The great American experience is to pick up a new gym membership or fitness routine and unfortunately 80% of them fail every year.
“To try and to fail has actually become something that everybody has experienced.”
iPhone app paired with Apple Watch
Future has nailed access to world-class trainers who humanize the virtual training experience. They’ve cracked the code of keeping you on track on your fitness journey by using people and technology to drive accountability.
Initially a trained astrophysicist, changing human behavior has become a theme in Rishi’s career. He previously launched and sold Sosh to Postmates, a company dedicated to helping people find things locally to create memorable experiences.
As Rishi was reflecting on the culture at Future, he recalled a lesson from entrepreneur Max Levchin. “The team you build is the company you build.”
I asked him about a competency he looks for in new hires and he explained how two people can have the same life circumstance and one can be galvanized while the other can find it difficult to look past the challenge in front of them.
“When you’re building something new and you’re going to be wrong 90% of the time — you need to hire for optimism, people who want to see the world become a better place and think it’s possible to be a part of that. When you put that together with work habits and attention to detail, you can teach the rest of it.”
One of the most fascinating aspects of building Future was the concept of stacking the deck against themselves to prove the thesis of the company.
“When we started this company, we didn’t want to trick ourselves and inflate our numbers in the short term for. We wanted to know whether or not we had a good idea.
The problem historically with fitness is that everybody picks up new routines and nothing sticks over a lifetime, right? So you get busy, have work, get married, and have kids. All of these throw people off a very fragile regimen they’ve put together for themselves. And so if we said the problem is nothing sticks, then what we want to solve for is a solution that does.”
Future would not sell you a year subscription in advance because they’d have very little signal of retention. They only made customers pay monthly and they reminded them a week before their first reoccurring charge.
“Amazon or Netflix would never do this, right? But if we can retain people through that we can feel very assured we have some kind of foundation and an interesting solution. But if you rush through that it’s a house of cards analogy and you’re on a shaky foundation. You’ll only find out later that you were tricking yourself.”
An interesting exercise is selecting a coach because you can view their background to find one who is a good match. My first coach, Austin Witt, earned a masters in exercise physiology, had experience working with patients in cardiopulmonary rehabilitation, and was a certified nutrition coach in additional to his personal training experience.
After a few months of working together he commended me on staying the course. I’d often injure myself from subtle movements which would derail my training and by working with Austin he did a phenomenal job of helping me re-develop a base to work from which helped prevent injuries. “I haven’t pulled a muscle!” I’d tell him.
My most recent trainer, Tess Barringer, was equally impactful and held a degree in kinesiology while having a number of years of 1:1 and group coaching experience. I appreciated her holistic approach to my wellness journey.
Performance Coach, Tess Barringer
Her superpower was listening and constantly iterating my workouts to challenge me but to also meet me where I was in my journey. Tess was also empathetic and took into consideration the other pillars of wellness like my sleep hygiene, stress management, and she had helpful strategies to mitigate my night-time snacking habit.
I have to admit, the most important indicator of whether or not I’m achieving my health goals is minimizing the time I get derailed from my plan. Life will always throw something your way, but will it sidetrack you for a day or several weeks? My coaches at Future truly helped me re-establish my fitness journey by helping me stay the course.
As I concluded my interview with Rishi, I felt deeply moved by the sage life and career advice from his father which also felt like the perfect analogy for my wellness journey:
“The plan is always useless, but planning isn’t useless. Effectively what he was saying is that fortune favors the prepared mind. There’s no way to predict the future, but if you go through the process of building a framework it’s a lot easier to iterate than to feel like you’re working your way through the darkness.”
Click here to watch or listen to the full interview with Rishi Mandal