Variety

Fitness gyms going high-tech with AI trainers for workout support

Yatti Soni Bengaluru | Updated on September 16, 2021

The AI trainer will generate a personalized workout plan for the user as per the member's goal, fitness level and preferences

As pandemic pushed workout classes to go online, fitness companies have been experimenting with technologies like artificial intelligence to drive user retention and scale.

Earlier this week, fitness start-up Cult.fit has announced the addition of AI trainers in its new chain of gyms -Cult Gyms. While Cult.fit centers focused on generalized group workout sessions, Cult Gyms’ AI trainer is envisioned as the digital version of a personal trainer. The AI trainer will generate a personalized workout plan for the user as per the member's goal, fitness level, and preferences.

“AI trainer guides the member step by step on the cult.fit app. It also takes into account a user’s basic information such as gender, age, height, weight, and any particular fitness goals and problem areas. It utilizes the data provided by the user to create a customized workout plan that will help users achieve their goals,” Shamik Sharma, Head of Digital Health, Cult.fit told BusinessLine.

As more information is shared by the user on progress and other variables, the AI trainer will continue to offer an even more tailored workout program, Sharma added.

Talking about the importance of having AI trainers in gyms, Arjun Rao, Partner at an active deep tech-focused venture capital firm, Speciale Invest, said, “User fitness tracking and AI in real-time and post-facto are key for gyms/trainers to manage users at scale in this new post-pandemic world which is going to be part in-person and part remote for the foreseeable future.”

He added that AI has enabled post-workout analysis and assessment, allowing users to quantify their improvements, leading to habits. Gamifying the workout experience by measuring activity is a way to increase engagement and incentivize gym goers to work out regularly, either in gyms or remotely.

Other companies in the fitness space have also been working towards integrating new-age technology offerings to enhance the workout experience of the users.

“We'd like to move towards creating an environment which feels like you're working out in a gym, among real people, even when you're actually working out from home. I see that's where the technology is gonna move,” said Jitendra Chouksey, founder of Sequoia-backed company Fittr.

Personalised workout plan

Fittr currently has an audio and video chat feature on its app to enable coaches and users interact in real-time. Chouksey believes that humans like to identify themselves in a community setting and that’s what inspires things like behavioural change, motivation to workout, and consistency in people.

"AI is definitely good for automating mundane tasks, it can improve the feeds, it can send timely reminders or to an extent, it can create a more intuitive diet and training plans by learning from your food and dietary habits, but it cannot replace the human to human interaction,” Chouksey added.

Cult.fit's Sharma also noted that Cult Gyms will continue to have human trainers alongside AI trainers at the new gyms. However, the number of human trainers will depend on the gym size and requirements. The users will also be able to use Cult Gyms’ AI trainers at their home gyms.

Even after users have access to a personalised workout program created by AI trainers, gym trainers have a role to play in terms of guiding the customer in various exercises and movements. Thus, creating the need for human support but then again, personalised trainer support cannot be provided effectively at scale.

An early-stage start-up Burncal is trying to solve this problem by complementing human trainer support with computer vision and AI. The company has developed proprietary computer vision-based algorithms to automatically check user’s form, count their reps and hold them accountable while they workout from home.

“We have built a program that is personalized for a user and also have a very strong accountability mechanism, which is being driven by expert coaches to understand the psychology behind new exercises, any new habit formation, to derive user retention and engagement for a very long period of time.” said Chetan Reddy, co-founder of Burncal.

Published on September 16, 2021

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