ChatGPT’s explosion in popularity in recent months has led some people to recruit the AI chatbot for their workout routine. The trend has popped up on TikTok in particular, with multiple accounts posting about ditching expensive personal trainers for a journey in AI fitness.
So why not have ChatGPT create a personalized routine for you? While many think the tool could be helpful, some professionals have raised concerns about AI creating risky or ineffective workouts.
Sidharath Chhatani of Denver is one of those gymgoers using the power of ChatGPT to get in shape on a budget. Over the next eight months, Chhatani plans to train for his first marathon using ChatGPT’s weekly training plans which include a 40-minute lower-body workout and a half-hour yoga session. “I’ve never run a marathon, which is why it’s easier to do it this way. Just ask a bot to do it for you,” Chhatani recounted to NBC News.
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But some personal trainers aren’t exactly thrilled with the growing trend. Jill Goodtree, a certified trainer in New York City, noted that some of ChatGPT’s workouts don’t maximize muscle growth and create the most effective routine for users. It also has no way of assessing your form, which is a critical part of not only ensuring results, but simply avoiding injury.
“ChatGPT cannot keep you safe,” she said. “Free is not always better, especially when it comes to your health, your wellness, your well-being. You only have one body.”
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Paul Romeo, a trainer and owner of two Koko FitClub “digital gyms” in Massachusetts, pointed out that the average person wouldn’t know how to get ChatGPT to make the best plan for them, including taking past injuries or a weak muscle group into account. “If you don’t know exactly what to ask ChatGPT, you could end up with a program that would exacerbate an injury instead of helping you work around it,” he told Well+Good.
Like with all AI-generated content, diligent fact-checking and human discernment and skepticism is key. Shayan Azizbaeigi, an SVP of fitness and well-being at a software company, acknowledged that ChatGPT can come back with a workout plan that sounds legit, which would fool the everyday exerciser. “If it’s something you’re not an expert in, some of the stuff that it spits back, you’re like, ‘This has to be right,’” he said.
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Rebecca Robinson, a U.K.-based consultant physician in sports and exercise medicine, echoed a similar sentiment. “It’s a tool, but it’s not gospel,” she told the MIT Technology Review.
Robots are no replacement for real humans, as veteran personal trainer Daniel Lucas told NBC News. Without a living, breathing personal trainer, exercisers are not only missing out on valuable customized coaching, but the basic human need for interpersonal connection.
“There’s no substitute for human contact and human energy,” he said. “In every interaction with a human, you’re either giving or receiving energy. And that doesn’t happen via artificial intelligence.”
When devising your summer workout plan, your best bet is to combine information from as many sources as possible. And, as ChatGPT itself cautions, always consult a medical professional before embarking on your fitness journey.