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AI has become a part of everyday life. We use it to open our mobile devices via facial recognition. When we do an internet search, AI helps provide more personalized results. So, it comes as no surprise that this technology is also entering the fitness industry.
Here we discuss how AI can be used in fitness, along with providing several fitness apps that can be helpful when training clients. First, let's talk about what AI is and its pros and cons. The latter is important because understanding AI’s value and shortcomings enables you to use this technology responsibly when training fitness clients.
AI stands for artificial intelligence. It is deemed “artificial” because it is provided by machines versus humans. AI isn’t meant to necessarily replace human intelligence, but it is capable of learning new information—even information it wasn’t specifically programmed to learn.
The basis of machine learning is algorithms. An AI algorithm uses data sets to determine certain patterns. It then uses these patterns to predict outcomes. Much like humans, AI can learn from its mistakes. This enables it to make better predictions in the future.
AI technology offers both advantages and disadvantages. One of its pros is that it reduces the risk of human error. Because it uses complex sets of data collected by algorithms, it’s able to provide more precise and accurate information. It isn’t subject to the errors that humans sometimes make.
Another advantage of AI is that it can perform repetitive tasks. For instance, we can use AI to answer our client’s most common questions via a chatbot on our website. AI can also be used to handle basic office tasks. This frees us up to engage in the activities that we find more interesting or that can’t be performed by machines.
AI also makes life easier. It allows the machines that we use daily to better predict our behaviors. These predictions make it possible for them to learn how to help us more. They constantly evolve based on our actions, providing more solutions specialized to our situation and needs.
What are some cons of AI? Machine learning isn’t perfect. Humans must first decide what data will be used to train AI. If this data is wrong or biased in any way, AI’s prediction accuracy declines. Research also shows that, even if the data is correct, AI can still give faulty predictions (1). So, it isn’t a perfect science.
Another disadvantage of AI is that it cannot replace the human experience. AI can’t place an encouraging hand on your client’s shoulder when they’re struggling with their fitness routine and want to give up. It also doesn’t get to the heart of their fitness goals.
AI may be able to use predictive analytics to help create a workout plan, but it has no idea why creating that plan is important to your clients. Do they want to lose weight because of poor health or for vanity reasons? Do they want to gain muscle to perform better at a sport or to engage in certain activities more easily?
Drilling down to what’s beneath clients’ fitness goals helps keep them motivated when times get tough. It also provides clarity as to what they’re working toward. While AI can suggest the steps to take, it doesn’t do the preliminary work that humans do. AI doesn’t care why you want something, which is a critical piece of the fitness puzzle.
Understanding AI’s value and shortcomings can help trainers use this technology responsibly. You gain a better idea of how it can be helpful within the fitness sector while also keeping its functionality in perspective. Just as fitness equipment is a tool to help train clients, AI serves the same purpose. It’s supplemental versus taking the place of a personal trainer.
Shortcomings aside, when used appropriately, AI can be helpful for personal trainers. Here are a few ways this technology can be used in fitness settings:
Human pose estimation technology. Trainers can use AI to analyze their client’s posture. This technology identifies specific points on their body, such as their joints and limbs, to essentially map out their skeletal system. This information can help trainers decide how to correctly angle a joint during a specific exercise to provide better results.
Wearable technology. Wearables that use AI analytics give trainers real-time information on their clients during the training session. This data can be used to assess and improve their performance. Fitness trackers are an example of wearable AI. Many provide personalized feedback on health and fitness based on heart rate, physical activity, and other metrics.
Intelligent clothing. Another AI tool is smart fitness clothing. This clothing is embedded with technology that senses and provides feedback on the body and its response to exercise. A smart shirt might monitor how fast your client runs, for instance. Smart pants can detect alignment.
AI-powered footwear. Some footwear companies are also utilizing AI to help improve performance. Interesting Engineering indicates that AI-powered Moonwalkers can increase walking speed by 250% (2). Other companies are using AI to help optimize the fit of athletic footwear, ensuring that it is both comfortable and functional for the activities being performed.
AI assistant. Some artificial intelligence applications can help you better manage the administrative side of your personal training business. AI assistants can transcribe your notes after meeting with clients, send text messages, make phone calls, and more.
Generative AI. If you want help writing blogs for your website, creating images for social media posts, or crafting emails, AI can help with this too. Generative AI can be used to develop a variety of content, from text to photos to videos. ChatGPT and DALL-E both utilize this type of AI.
One of the easiest ways for a personal trainer to access AI is via an app. This provides the ability to use AI technology when you’re in the gym, training in a client’s home, or otherwise not near your computer.
Here are a few fitness applications that use artificial intelligence:
Aaptiv offers thousands of audio and video exercise routines led by certified trainers. This enables your clients to work on their fitness between workout sessions with you.
ALFA AI is an AI fitness coach that measures and analyzes exercise form and execution in real time. Then it provides advice on how to improve your client’s results.
FitBod provides personalized workout plans based on your client’s fitness level and available gym equipment. As your client’s fitness improves, the workout routine is modified to help them continue to work toward their goals.
FitnessAI also provides personalized training plans. It uses analytics collected from millions of other workouts to provide the optimal sets, reps, and weights for clients based on their goals.
Gymfitty uses algorithms to create exercise routines customized to your clients. This fitness app also monitors their performance in real time, changing the workout if needed.
JuggernautAI is designed for clients interested in boosting their strength training results. Clients input information about themselves and their fitness goals and the app creates a customized training program.
Tempo enables clients to exercise in a smart home gym with AI guidance. This fitness app creates custom workout plans for users, also providing immediate feedback about their form.
Tonal is another home gym fitness app. It offers clients progress tracking and uses customized metrics to help them reach their fitness objectives.
If you want help assessing your clients, AI products that use human pose estimation can be beneficial. It takes the guesswork out of how to best train your clients based on their physical makeup.
Wearable devices, smart clothing, and AI-powered footwear can all provide real-time feedback. These devices can be used during training sessions to monitor your client’s performance. Clients can also use them between training sessions to keep a better eye on their own fitness metrics.
Clients can also use a fitness app whenever they’re not training with you. This gives them access to workout plans based on their fitness level and goals. It also helps them establish a fitness routine in their everyday life.
If you’d like help with administrative tasks, an AI assistant or generative AI can be beneficial. These applications can take care of some of your office duties. This frees you up to spend more time with your clients in the gym.
As helpful as AI can be, it is better used as a supplement to personal training versus a replacement for personal trainers. No amount of machine learning can override the value of a human fitness professional.
AI can’t offer the personal interaction of working with a human, nor can it provide the lessons learned after working with numerous fitness clients. It’s just another tool that personal trainers can use to help their clients achieve optimal results.
AI also doesn’t replace the need for trainers to be knowledgeable and skilled in training program design. A good first step in gaining this knowledge and skill is to complete a training course.
ISSA offers an online Certified Personal Trainer program designed to provide the information needed to work as a personal trainer. This gives you the foundational knowledge to help clients reach their fitness goals, with or without artificial intelligence.
Start your dream career completely online! Take the course, pass the certification final exam, and be guaranteed a job - or your money back!
Kristiansen, T. B., Kristensen, K., Uffelmann, J., & Brandslund, I. (2022). Erroneous data: The achilles’ heel of AI and personalized medicine. Frontiers in Digital Health, 4. https://doi.org/10.3389/fdgth.2022.862095
Papadopoulos, L. (2023, May 7). Moonwalkers: These AI-powered shoes will have you walking 250% faster. Interesting Engineering. https://interestingengineering.com/innovation/ai-powered-shoes-250-faster