"Why I Don’t Fear AI as a Personal Trainer"

"Why I Don’t Fear AI as a Personal Trainer"

ChatGPT is taking the world by storm, and many people within the fitness industry, especially trainers who build training plans and workouts for their clients, are worried.

But while many PTs express fear about AI technology potentially invalidating their services, many disregard the app, saying it will never live up to what human coaching can offer.

For those unaware, ChatGPT is an AI chatbot that uses computing techniques to pull information from massive data sets online to provide us with advanced information through chat responses. Since it is (currently) a free resource, users are getting experimental with how they can tailor the responses to suit their everyday needs, including workout programming to achieve their fitness goals.

Curious about the results, we opened the app and gave it a moderately easy task:

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The results weren't bad at all. It has a mix of push, pull and lower moves, exercise choices that would be accessible to many levels, and the workout length is certainly doable for someone with time restrictions.

There are limitations, the rep ranges are generic, do not vary at all and are not suited to an individual's ability. But overall the workout could be somewhat effective. But there's something it doesn't provide: the detail and personalisation, built through years of experience, that only a coach can offer. But what about those that aren't interested in the human element, or can't afford personal training and simply want plans without the fuss? Well, yes, ChatGPT could be the answer.

I spoke with our fitness editor, Andrew Tracey, who believes ChatGPT is here to stay, especially within the health industry.

'In terms of people getting their fitness programmes from ChatGPT, I believe as a writer of programmes, [it] will be far more efficient and trustworthy than even me,' says Tracey. 'Simply because it has access to the entirety of the internet. And, unlike me, it is not subject to memory failure. ChatGPT doesn't have that liability. Personal training has become less of a luxury commodity, but as the industry becomes more saturated, ultimately the democratisation of fitness information is only ever going to be a good thing.'

Maybe we should hang up our personal training boots?

Tracey says no: 'Having that accountability and that buy-in is the biggest point of efficacy with [fitness] training, and you do not get that level of accountability with ChatGPT. You do get that with a person.'

MH Elite coach and founder of Battle Cancer, Scott Britton, also feels that ChatGPT has its limitations: 'People presume because it's AI that it has all the answers that humans still have. But in terms of fitness, it's very difficult to get active feedback. It doesn't know you, it doesn't know your body, it also can't make changes for you. It's going to be very generic information.

'The information isn't necessarily wrong or harmful, but, it can't listen back to you. It doesn't know your age or your circumstances and can't feedback adequately. It also doesn't know what you're doing and how well you're doing it, whereas a good strength and conditioning coach is able to.'

As PTs, it's clear we need to work with this new technology and use it to our advantage, instead of against it, in order to serve the overarching goal: helping more people enjoy fitness. If there is a tool that can enable us do this more quickly and efficiently, while also adding our human touch in terms of listening skills, tailored programming and accountability, then ChatGPT should be nothing to fear for those offering a high level of coaching already.

We got to get used to it: it's here to stay.

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