Many fitness lovers have used Artificial Intelligence as a personal trainer. So have I and here's how it worked out.
You've most likely already heard of ChatGPT: it's an Artificial Intelligence that you can ask anything and get consistent responses generated in seconds. It is basically a "generative" AI, meaning that it can produce new content, but still based on information taken from millions of web pages and stored in its database.
That sounds astounding, and indeed it is. There is a catch, however. In order to get the most detailed and personalized answers from the software, it is necessary to ask, very often, the right questions, adding information and requests, making follow-ups to the first question. The quality of ChatGPT's response, in fact, depends very much on how it is queried, that is, on the precision with which the question you ask it is formulated. In this regard, not surprisingly, a new professional figure has arisen: that of the prompter, i.e., the one who is able to get the most out of generative AI systems thanks to the precision of the queries submitted.
The applications are many. One can ask ChatGPT to make texts for speeches, songs, even poems (trivial, in truth), work mails, summaries, long texts, homework, and many, many more. Some have even thought of having a training program built.
Ask ChatGPT and you shall be given: fitness programs and trivia
Specifically, MIT Technology review journalist Rhiannon Williams, as soon as she found out she had been accepted to the London Marathon, asked ChatGPT to prepare a training program for her: "To test GPT's ability to create fitness programs, I asked her to write me a 16-week marathon training plan." Unfortunately, it did not work out as hoped. The AI suggested she run 19 miles the day before the marathon, close to the race. Had she followed that advice, she would have arrived at the starting line exhausted. Her experience stopped there, but she identified many other people who questioned ChatGPT in the sports world. More like experiments to understand the reliability of the chatbot. The result? Debatable.
American influencer coach Alex Cohen, Williams recounts, began by asking her to calculate her total daily energy expenditure (the total number of calories you burn in a day, a useful tool for estimating how many calories you need to consume to lose, maintain or gain weight). He then asked her to create sample meals and workout programs. Like Goodwin, he was impressed with the information ChatGPT provided him. However, it quickly became clear to him that AI cannot replace a nutritionist or personal trainer. "It's about tailoring workouts to the specific body type and adapting them as required, evaluating them based on experience," Cohe says.
Other influencers have asked ChatGPT to create body building workout programs. One such was John Yu, creator TikTok, who filmed himself after a six-day fitness program written by ChatGPT. Specifically, the tiktoker asked her to give him a sample workout plan to do every day, tailored to different parts of his body (arms, legs, etc.). The resulting exercises were perfect and quite easy to follow. However, Yu found that the card lacked variety. And he went back to his old workout routine, which was more fun and varied.
So I too asked ChatGPT to give me a workout write-up
To try to disprove the hypothesis, I asked ChatGPT to write me an effective workout routine to define muscle. Specifically, I asked her:
"I'm 48 years old and weigh 70 pounds: can you write me a free-body fitness program of 10 minutes per session for 2 days a week to help me define my muscles?"
Does this sound like a comprehensive program? Perhaps a basis from which to start. First, however, I wanted to understand what he means in point c on Day 2 by "crunches" and in point c on Day 1 by "chin-ups," since they are usually done with dumbbells. He answered me as follows:
So basically he meant bar pulls. On the abdominals the answer was a bit general, not specifying what exercise he had in mind:
To recap, will ChatGPT be the future of fitness?
ChatGPT will definitely improve. It could, for example, learn to ask users questions to give more comprehensive answers. For example, it could ask users if there are any exercises they hate or inquire about any injuries they have suffered. But it essentially fails to come up with original suggestions and does not have a thorough understanding of the concepts it expounds.
"Because ChatGPT is web-trained, what it comes up with might be something you didn't know, but that many others, the more experienced ones, know," points out University of Kent artificial intelligence professor Philippe De Wilde to MIT Technology review. "And while many of its answers are technically correct, a human expert will almost always be better." In short, ChatGPT is not the gospel, but some might interpret it as such.
Pulling it together, ChatGPT has technically good answers, but the experience and empathy a coach can have makes (still) a difference. Yet, for some, the allure of AI-produced coaching is still irresistible. The question that arises is: for the convenience of having an answer at our fingertips (or keyboard) are we really willing to have mediocre suggestions?