Monday, May 12, 2014

The true cost of Freeletics & what you get for that price

Another set of questions that I often get from people who are thinking to start the training is:
  • "the method looks great, but how much does it *really* cost?"
  • "If it's a 15 weeks program, do I need to renew my subscription every 15 weeks?"
  • "if I buy the program do  I need to buy the app as well?"
  • "what kind of equipment do I need to buy?"

This post will try to cover all these points.

How much does it cost?

Honestly the prices are quite straightforward (there are no hidden fees). However, confusion can arise from the variety of products and channels available. The table below is an attempt at summarizing the various options, along with their price.
Please keep in mind that this review is based on what's available today (May 12th, 2014), it may change in the future.

As you can see there are 3 main type of products for sale: the app, the programs and the nutrition guide. Each is a stand alone product. So basically your spending can range from zero to 75 euros if you go for the complete package (app+program+nutrition guide).

Just to be clear, I don't intend to tell you what you should buy. My goal is simply to help you understand what each option entails. A student on scholarship or a Wall Street trader don't have the same price sensitivity... You are the best judge on how to handle your budget and therefore which purchase (if any) makes sense in your specific case. 

The nutrition guide:

This guide will not be covered in my review. I have not purchased the guide, so I have no legitimacy to be writing about it...

Zero euro training:

Both the free app and the free trial program are intended for people to test the method before deciding whether to buy it or not.
I always advise to do the free trial first. Even if you intend to buy the full program, it's probably better to ensure that you can handle the difficulty and have the discipline to stick to the schedule for a month, before spending your cash.
Whether you record your training results using the website, free app or pro app, all the data is centralized anyway. So you can start with the free app and upgrade to pro without losing any record.

On the long term, zero euro training is possible but it is the least convenient option.
You can either decide to spend the next few years doing only the 4 workouts in the free app. It's a very limited choice of workouts, but at least you can use your smartphone to record your results. 
Or there are plenty of forums, blogs and Youtube channels where you can find out how to perform each workout. But because the free app is restricted, you'll need to use your watch to record your results and write them down on a piece of paper. As I said, it's doable, it's just less convenient than using your phone.

  • Free!
  • Best way to know if the method can work for you.

  • Limited number of workouts or need to keep track of training on paper
  • No features (tutorials, network, etc.)

Pro App only training:

If you are on a budget and can't afford the program, using the Pro App this is probably the best option. This is also an option for people who have finished their program but have not re-subscribed (my case).

I always train using this app. I like being able to do everything in one place (record & check results, look at the list of workouts, etc.). The social network is a nice feature: it's a good way for athletes to motivate each others.
Also a key feature for beginners that a lot of people overlook is the video tutorials. When you look at Youtube videos to see how Hades works, you usually see people doing the most difficult version of a each exercise (i.e. the star version). Rarely do you see people showing the easier/modified versions. Sometimes I get questions from people who ask how it is possible to complete a training that includes pullups when that person cannot do a single pullup. If these people are getting stuck that's usually a sign that they haven't seen the tutorials.

Pro App only training is definitely a viable option, but keep in mind that the app does not provide any training guidelines. You are on your own to decide what to do. If you want to a receive specific training goals you'll need to consider purchasing a program.

  • Cheap (5 euros)
  • Full workout catalog, including video tutorials 
  • Keep track of your results on your smartphone
  • Social network
  • 5 euros is still more expensive than zero euro...
  • You need to know how to schedule your training plan
  • Motivation (no external pressure to train more than what you are comfortable to do)

Premium programs:

To follow a premium program you will need to choose an area of focus. Here is how Freeletics defines each program:
  • Cardio: "Improving the cardiovascular endurance as well as losing weight and defining the body (largest customer groups: endurance athletes and women)."
  • Strength: "Gaining strength as well as gaining muscles without gaining fat (largest customer groups: Strength oriented athletes and slim men)"
  • Cardio& Strength: "Broad improvement of athletic performance as well as gaining muscles while losing weight (largest customer group: overweight men and experienced athletes, as it contains the greatest athletic diversity.)"

[Edit start]
May 21st: based on reader input in the comments section (thanks Yury for keeping me up-to-date!), it appears that there is now the possibility to switch program focus mid-training. There is a question mark around the subscription duration. I'm modifying the paragraph below accordingly]
[Edit end]

Your choice will depend on your personal goals, just keep in mind that you cannot switch from one program after a few weeks. You have to finish your current program before starting another one, so choose carefully.

When you sign-up for 15 weeks, by going on the website or the app you can see your scheduled workouts for the current week. Only the current week. You cannot see yet what workouts will be assigned to you in the coming weeks (the workouts are supposedly generated based on your personal results). At the end of the week, once you have finished to record all your completion times, you click on a button to validate your weekly training. This is a definitive choice. This will generate your training schedule for the next week, and you cannot go back to see the previous week.

Additionally, you will have a limited time to complete the program. If the program is designed to be done in 15 weeks, your subscription lasts a few weeks longer than that, just in case you are delayed a bit in your training (sickness or whatever). But this additional time is limited. I don't recall the exact time, but we are talking 4-5 weeks, not months. [Edit: apparently subscription now only lasts 15 weeks. At first I found it strange that your coach would stop after only 14 weeks of actual training if you happen to miss 1 week for whatever reason, but this has been confirmed by Freeletics]

This is something important to understandBecause you cannot see the entire program upfront, and have a limited time period to complete it, when you sign-up, make sure that you intend to complete the 15 weeks in a row. If you are a student and know that you will spend your summer doing anything except training, then you probably shouldn't subscribe in May or June. Because when you come back in 3 months from your great vacations your subscription will be over (or you won't have enough to complete all 15 weeks anyway).

Once your subscription is over you don't have to subscribe again. Some athletes choose to do a different program, to try a different focus area or just because they prefer to have a strict schedule to follow. But it's not mandatory. You can just train on your own as you please.

  • Full workout catalog, including video tutorials 
  • Keep track of your results on website (even if you haven't purchased the app)
  • You receive a specific training schedule to complete
  • Motivation: most people won't go through Hell Week unless told to! 
  • Motivation: it costs money, some people won't quit not to waste subscription!
  • It costs money (40 euros). And you don't like to spend your hard earned money.
  • If you already have the Pro App, you already have access to tutorials & workout catalog.
  • Schedule not flexible (you don't choose the number of sessions per week, which can be an issue for people who already do sports on the side).

Premium program + Pro App:

This is what I did. If you don't mind spending the cash you get the best of both worlds: convenience of the app + a strict schedule to get you out of your comfort zone.
When I signed-up for the program, you had to purchase both separately. So I spent 45 euros in total. However, today as I was writing this post I re-installed the free app to double check something. When I logged into the free app, I realized that I had access to the full catalog of workouts!
My guess is that since the last software update when you purchase a training program the free app automatically gets upgraded to unlock the features of the Pro app.

I could be wrong, but in any case, if you have decided to to buy both the program and the app, try to buy the program first. If I'm wrong you have nothing to loose, if I'm right you'll save 5 euros.

Special equipment & additional expenses to consider:

Mandatory equipment:

  • sports clothes & shoes
  • pull-up bar. If you train at home you may have to buy one (cost: 15-30 euros)

Useful equipment:
  • A thick towel, or ideally a yoga/pilates mat to avoid bruises and scratches after ground exercises (cost: 15-30 euros).
  • If you have cold winters where you live consider buying sport gloves (choose a water resistant fabric, so that the gloves that won't be ruined when doing burpees outside).
  • A water-resistant phone cover is nice to have during rainy running sessions 

Other potential expenses:

Sometimes I jokingly say that the most expensive thing with Freeletics is buying new clothes. 
If you followed my physical evolution, you know that I lost a few kilos and 6 cm of waist size. A picture is worth a thousand words, so let me illustrate what 6 cm (=2.4 in) means from a clothing stands point:

Most of my old pants & belt don't fit me anymore!

After completing the program I had to purchase a new set of clothes. The toll is currently at: 3 suits, 4 pairs of trousers, 2 pairs of shorts and 2 belts...
Honestly I'm a bit scared to make the exact calculation of what I paid in total. But what's sure is that I have been spending much much much more on clothes than the roughly 100 euros of training expenses (program + pullup bar + mat + gloves). There is really some truth behind that joke! If you intend to lose weight significantly, this is something you should keep in mind.


  1. Good day Decimus!

    I have few remarks to your post:


    Once you buy the Coach you can click on your name in the upper right corner and it will bring up a account settings page. Just scroll on down to "Your Subscription" and there will be a Focus tab with a ">" and click that and it will allow you to change your focus. Then click save changes.

    2 - First time I got 15 weeks coach I got 20 weeks to complete it. When I assigned for the second time (actually I canceled it then) I got only 15 weeks to complete my coach. It wasn't suitable for me, because I will need few weeks off, as I will become father for the second time in few weeks :)

    3 - NUTRITION GUIDE - I tryied it. There are basic rules of clean and healthy eating and also there are good recipies. If somebody want more details, feel free to ask.

    4 - NEW CLOTHING - damn you right :) Trousers are worst, I can't wear any old jeans, shorts and trousers (lost 10 cm in waist). T-shirts and shirts are OK, I never was buing big ones :)

    5 - GLOVES - which gloves are you using?

    1. Hello Yury,

      1. Thanks for the feedback, you just taught me something. I'm wondering if that change happened long ago. Did you do the change during your first program or the second?

      2. I'm really surprised about that change in policy. Seems like something really stupid to do from a business stands point. Was there still a end of subscription date indicated?

      3. Nutrition guide: I have a feeling that enjoying a glass of wine with some good bread & cheese, is not part of the recommended diet! So I think that I'll stick to the fitness guide instead. ;-)

      4. This morning while dressing I realized that I could have mentioned as well that I had to punch new holes in most of my belts...

      5. For the gloves I'm using the following Nike running gloves:
      (They may be cheaper somewhere else, I'm just took the first google hit to illustrate)

      I didn't do a massive amount of research before buying this model. After one of my first outside training this winter, the same day I went to the nearest store and bought one of the few models they had on shelf.

      Anyway, the reasons I chose these particular gloves were because they are synthetic. I chose this model because of the synthetic fabric and the tip of the thumb is touchscreen compatible.

      Having used the gloves all winter I can give some factual feedback:

      - touchscreen feature is very useful when using a smartphone to record training. Sometimes the app has issue to register the signal so you may have to press a few times. It's not entirely the gloves fault, it was partly due to the app itself (it's better with more recent versions). This touchscreen compatible feature works even if you carry your phone in a plastic armband.

      - the gloves are comfortable, but I don't think that they will last many years. It's a lightweight model intended for runners. So it wasn't designed to be resistant to friction on the ground when doing burpees or pushups.

      - the gloves are not water proof, it just that they won't be ruined by water like leather gloves would be. If you run when it rains the gloves will still offer a good protection. But for groundwork, the best is to do it somewhere where you are sheltered from rain. This way the gloves protect from clod (air and ground) but don't get soaking wet. I remember a Kentauros workout doing burpees frogs under pouring rain, it wasn't fun. Not only wet gloves didn't keep me warm but it gave the weird sensation to have heavy hands. I wasn't fully focused on the workout.

    2. 1 - I don't know when this change took place, I found it on some forum in last weeks of my coach, but I didn't change it.

      2 - I bought my first coach on the 6th of December 2013. My subscription was valid till 25th of April 2014, it is exactly 20 weeks.

      On the 27th of April 2014 I bought new coach. I was surprised to see that my subscription is valid untill 10th of August 2014, it is 15 weeks.

      3 - For me the most valuable part of the Nutrition Guide were tasty recipies :)

      4 - I also have to modify my belts :)

      5 - I bought gloves before my outdoar workingout, but I didn't realize that I will need to use tuchscreen in some workouts. For nex winter have to buy something like you have ;)

  2. Hi Yury Chaus,
    I too subscribe to freeletics but i didn't purchase Nutrition guide.
    Please if possible please email me the nutrition guide to my email address

    Thanks & Regards,

    1. Hello,

      I have nutrition guide only online and actually there are no some special diet or technics. It is basic information about healthy food and drinks and some recipies. So now proper 15 weeks diet.

  3. Personally I love Freeletics but did not find the nutrition guide worth the money spent. Although I don't eat cheese so I didn't have an interest in using most if the recipes. It does indeed just do the basic information. I found the Freeletics blog more helpful.