By Corey Lewis, CPT, CSCS
It’s a cardio day, you’re running on the treadmill, your trainer is telling you to pick up the pace and sprint the last section. As you cool down, your trainer has already put together tomorrow’s workout and tells you how well you performed. But—the trainer isn’t human. Think of it as an artificial intelligence (AI) platform that knows exactly what your body needs. It knows your capabilities, and can motivate you at the perfect time. How far are we from enjoying this type of fitness technology?
AI is booming and has made itself indispensable in a variety of industries, including the fitness industry. Fitness tech is great. But, it often tells you what you’ve done, rather than what you should be doing. However, as artificial intelligence gets smarter and tech brands become more adventurous, the future of fitness could look very different.
No matter how you feel about AI or how disruptive it can be to several industries, you’ve got to admit: we’ve come along way. Amazon basically knows what you’re going to buy next and Netflix knows how to keep you hooked on the couch for another related show. So, what does this mean for the fitness-lovers out there? There’s already a lot of technology in the fitness industry, but as technology becomes more human and personalized, it can have a greater impact.
Do you know the difference between AI and machine learning? We ofen use the two terms interchangeably. But, they are different. AI is used to describe a type of intelligence that’s not biological, but synthetic. Whereas machine learning is a way of creating AI which relies heavily on empowering computers to make decisions with less and less input from humans. AI is the endgame, and machine learning helps get us there.
When you bring big data into the AI mix, you get a powerful combination that could have a huge effect on the fitness industry. Big data is the massive collection of data that we all contribute to daily. DOMO suggests that by 2020, we will each generate 1.7 MB of data every second. Big data helps entities gain a better understanding of consumer behaviors and preferences. The world is becoming data-driven, which means data is extremely valuable.
Google is no stranger to AI technology. The tech giant has already entered into the health and wellness space with Google Fit. The health-tracking app blends data from different apps and uses wearables and mobile devices to track physical activity. The goal: to give you a comprehensive overview of exactly where your fitness is.
Google has plans to go beyond Google Fit data with AI-powered fitness and health platform Google Coach. It will have the capability to recommend healthy eating habits and workout programs.
With AI-powered fitness apps, connected devices and wearables, and big data, your health and fitness are already benefiting from advances in technology. AI fitness technology goes beyond just creating a workout based on your height, build and goals; it gives you personal recommendations that can help you make healthy lifestyle changes. Here’s how AI is changing fitness.
With AI already interpreting your fitness metrics through your wearables, soon it’ll be able to deliver suggestions that are completely tailored to your body.
One brand taking on the world of AI and fitness is digital therapeutics pioneer Kaia Health. Described as the world’s first full-body virtual personal trainer, the Kaia Health app tracks your exercises, creates personalized fitness plans, and gives audio feedback—all in real-time, straight from your smartphone.
Innovation in AI means more and more personalization. The one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work for nutrition or fitness. Everyone is different, and the introduction of AI means that health advice will just become even more tailored, helping you lead a healthier and happier lifestyle.
Another brand killing it in the AI fitness tech space is Tonal. The high-tech, high-powered AI-assisted workout aims to transform the at-home workout. Taking up virtually no space in your home compared to the traditional at-home gym, the pre-recorded trainers and super slick AI-programming will whip you into shape.
AI can even help with your yoga flow. Though not as popular as Lululemon Align workout pants, these yoga pants from Nadi X help you nail your alignment and give your flow a boost. The pants gather information and help guide your form through your yoga practice and help you lock down your poses. Clothing sensors have the potential to be a massive trend in this space.
Setting useful and realistic goals is what we all crave from our fitness tech. Achievable goals based solely on your individual fitness levels and body metrics is crucial to progressing and staying motivated. With AI and increased access to data, wearables will be able to inform users how fit they are compared to the population, and provide weekly and daily goals that are suited to the individual. Whether that’s exercise, water intake, or nutritional goals, it’s all completely personalized.
AI-enabled technology has the ability to take today’s wearables and analytics to a whole new level. For example, you can export your Fitbit data to analyze on your computer. One of the most popular wearables on the market is the Apple Watch Series 4. However, the wearable market is not just Apple Watch vs. Fitbit, either. Together with Xiaomi, Fitbit, and Garmin, Apple makes up the majority of the global wearable market. There are many features that define current wearable devices like seamless user experience and increased functionality, but enhanced intelligence would be a massive bonus.
One brand taking full advantage of AI and wearables is smart sport apparel company, Sensoria Fitness. The AI in-app coach improves running through performance analytics by providing real-time feedback and keeping you motivated. Mara, the AI coach, will tell you how far, how fast and how well you ran.
Injuries are a part of life and a risk for anyone who exercises or plays sports. It doesn’t matter if you’re a pro athlete or yoga addict; one wrong unfortunate move can result in injury. There are wearables from Garmin, Polar, and Sunnto that give suggested recovery times, but they aren’t accurate down to your biology and metrics. The Garmin Forerunner 935, for example, tells its users when to rest and for how long.
In the first study of its kind, the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine showed a definitive link between fatigue and increased risk of ACL tears. This shows how vital rest is and how fatigue can lead to injury.
The next step is to give personalized information based on AI analysis. Preventing injury is a part of fitness; listening to your body and allowing yourself recovery time is key to progressing.
If you just hit the gym hard for a heavy workout session and are older or less fit, your wearable might advise you to take it slow during the days following the session. It might, however, push someone who is super fit to keep going and work harder. With AI-enabled technology, wearables could even suggest changes to running cadence or form during weight-lifting, all to help prevent injury.
It seems like we’re just scratching the surface. But, this tech goes further than just fitness. Right now we can track pulse, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels. However, we still need a doctor to interpret those metrics for us. AI could soon help out medical professionals by analyzing data to give the ideal recommendations for every person.
Machine learning could be used to track changes in key metrics, both long and short term. We’re therefore not far from having apps for fitness that could indicate potential health problems far in advance of traditional methods. Imagine having an almost immediate diagnosis and being able to spot a change in your body before you’ve realized there’s a problem.
Another huge element of fitness is obviously diet. Eventually, AI-based wearables could suggest recipes and precise nutritional content based on every user’s dietary requirements, allergies, energy needs, metabolism and fitness goals.
Big data fuels AI and makes it possible for machine learning tools to quickly adapt and learn. Big data is the future across multiple industries, and fitness data is an integral part of that picture. AI allows us to make use of these massive datasets in a way that can improve your fitness, prevent injury and encourage general wellbeing. Are you ready?
The benefits of AI and big data are potentially enormous in the fitness technology industry with smarter personal training, exercise equipment, and recommendations tailored perfectly to an individual.