How Artificial Intelligence is Changing Fitness

No matter what line of work you are in, there is a lot of hype right now around Artificial Intelligence (“AI”). AI is one of those buzzy terms I’ve heard so often lately that it has almost become meaningless in my mind – like “disrupt” or “blockchain.” I mean, AI is totally disrupting blockchain technology, you guys.

how artificial intelligence is changing fitness

No matter how you feel about AI and how disruptive it is going to be, you’ve got to admit: we’ve come a long way since AIM chats with SmarterChild. Gmail is starting to guess the semi-casual way I write in e-mails, Alexa knows I’m a sucker for indie folk playlists, Netflix has figured out how to keep me glued to my couch for another related show, and Amazon basically knows what I am willing to buy better than I do.

So, what does this mean for you, my fitness-loving friends? Well, it could mean a lot of things. I think of AI like this – technology is becoming more human and, because of this, more personal. There’s a lot of technology in fitness already, but the impact that it can have is much greater when we think about adding a personal element to it.

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Here’s how AI is changing fitness now and in the future.

AI can make a phone your personal trainer

While still in its early stages, apps are now coming out that can use your phone’s camera to check your workout form and correct you, much like a trainer would do in a class or one-on-one setting. Kaia is an app that came out this summer, with the goal of teaching its users the power of a perfect squat. The virtual trainer offers real-time feedback on your squat – for example, letting you know if you are extending your knees too far out past your toes. While the app seems to have its imperfections (like the fact that it can only teach squats right now), it’s exciting to imagine the possibilities as it extends to more exercises in the future.

AI is making your wearable smarter

Do you wear a Fitbit or Apple watch? As our wearables collect more data, they can do much more for us than just count steps. Your Apple watch can become your doctor, detecting irregular heartbeats which can lead to a stroke or heart attack. It might even be able to detect signs of diabetes in the not-too-distant future. Fitbit and Google announced a collaboration earlier this year to connect your data with your electronic medical records, giving you a more comprehensive view of your profile (e.g., if you work out more or eat healthier for a few months, you might be able to see how that relates to improvements in your lab results).

AI can make you faster

Sensoria has a wearable that connects to your shoes and uses the information it collects on your runs to help coach you, cheer you on, and remind you when you need to kick it up a notch. Instead of only having data on distance and pace (like with traditional running watches), you’ll also understand how well you did on your run and if your form needs improvement.

AI is helping your yoga flow

Want better alignment during your yoga practice? These yoga pants can help you achieve just that. Nadi X will use the information gathered from its technology to help guide your form during your yoga practice and help you nail your poses. Sensors on clothing seems to be a trend that we might be seeing more of in the coming years.

AI can help you get stronger

Fitbod learns from the data you input into it during and after your workouts to help guide you on suggestions for rep count and weights the next time you hit the gym. Admittedly, most of the time I choose what weights to use in my fitness classes, I’m just guessing (and often, I’m not pushing myself to lift any heavier). This app is designed to keep you pushing your limits every time you go to the gym.

AI can make us better, but won’t replace us

You can’t talk about AI without talking about fears that come along with it. While technology can give us helpful information and try to make us better, nothing can replace personalization from a person. I’m excited about all the fitness and health advances we’ll be able to make with AI, and how that will continue to shape and advance the people side of the fitness industry. I don’t view AI as competition against people, I view it as a teammate that will help us go further (#everythingisbetterwithAI, anyone?).

What else might AI be able to do for your fitness and health in the future?

It seems like we’re just scratching the surface of possibilities. AI may coach us to be better athletes, teach us to make better nutrition choices, and help us make more informed health decisions. Have any predictions for what AI will do in fitness next? Let’s nerd out in the comments!


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About Cass Gunderson

Cass hails from the southwest suburbs as a proud White Sox fan and a graduate of University of Illinois. By day, Cass is a full-time student at the University of Chicago's Booth Graduate Business School. Before deciding to throw away all her money to go back to school, Cass worked for a private equity firm that buys technology companies. Raised as the youngest in a family of older brothers, Cass grew up a tomboy and remains active in sports. To her mother’s satisfaction, Cass learned how to embrace her feminine side in college and has developed an interest for fitness activities that require spandex as opposed to knee-length basketball shorts. In her spare time, she runs a lot because it is cheaper than paying for real therapy. Cass has completed four marathons and one ultramarathon (she claims she'll never do this to herself again, but that's TBD). She can still be found on the basketball courts in Lincoln Park wearing knee-length basketball shorts.