Daniel J. Green is ACE’s Senior Project Manager and Editor for Publications and Content Development. In addition to his work with organizations including the International Association of Fire Fighters and Agriculture Future of America, Daniel writes an ongoing blog series covering lifestyle change for NBCbetter.com. He has also written feature articles for local publications in Western North Carolina (WNC), including WNC Parent and WNC Magazine.
How to Use AI to Save Time and Build Your Business
That intro paragraph was written by ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence (AI)–powered tool, in response to the prompt: “Write a one-paragraph introduction to a magazine article on the topic of how personal trainers and health coaches can use ChatGPT to develop content and improve communication with their clients.”
Before landing on that intro, I had tried two other prompts that didn’t quite deliver the results I’d hoped for (i.e., “…the topic of how to expand your fitness business” and “…the topic of how to build or expand a personal training or health coaching business”). I tinkered with tone (use a friendlier tone; add a joke) and style (blog vs. magazine article) and eventually settled on what you see above.
To be honest, that’s a pretty solid opening paragraph, although the language is a little more passive than you would generally see in this publication. It may not be exactly what I’d write, but it certainly gives me something to work with that’s a bit less intimidating than the stark white screen that all writers face, whether they’re crafting an article for CERTIFIED or drafting an email to send to their clients that explains an increase in pricing or offers tips for staying active while on vacation.
After setting aside my fears of becoming obsolete (“Write a 2000-word magazine article on…”), I recognized the value and potential time saving that these tools represent for all kinds of professionals—health coaches and exercises professionals included. In this article, you’ll learn how you can use ChatGPT and similar resources to save yourself time and effort as you provide high-quality content and services to your clientele.
What is ChatGPT?
ChatGPT and other AI-driven tools have been such a hot topic of conversation that it’s astounding to consider they were only first introduced to the public in late 2022, when OpenAI launched ChatGPT to select users. Bing’s AI-powered search and Google’s Bard arrived soon thereafter, and more such resources are certain to emerge in the coming weeks and months. [Note that all the AI content in this article was created using ChatGPT.]
What makes these tools different from a traditional search engine is that they can be used in a more conversational way, where you can ask follow-up questions, challenge responses and fine-tune the tone and style of the writing. And, importantly, this is not all about content creation—you’ll learn more below about how some pros are already using AI in their businesses in some surprising ways.
So, what are its capabilities and limitations? OpenAI is very upfront about that, listing the following on the page where you initiate a conversation (with my notes added in parentheses):
- Remembers what user said earlier in the conversation (As mentioned above, this is the biggest difference between these AI-driven tools and typical search engines, as you can have an ongoing conversation that allows you to home in on exactly what you’re looking for.)
- Allows user to provide follow-up corrections (This connects to the conversational aspect, as you can eliminate some suggestions or ask it to focus on particular elements of the content created.)
- Trained to decline inappropriate requests (Such requests might include things like medical diagnoses. For example, a prompt of “Diagnose pain on the left side of my lower back” was met with a response that began, “As an AI language model, I am not a medical provider and cannot provide a diagnosis,” then went on to provide a few ideas for topics to discuss with a healthcare provider.)
- May occasionally generate incorrect information (Users call this “hallucinating,” which can happen when the AI cannot find a suitable response or “misunderstands” the source material.)
- May occasionally produce harmful instructions or biased content (This possibility stems in part from its limited knowledge base—see the next bullet—as well as the fact that AI is interpreting content it “reads.” This is the primary reason you must use your expertise before using any AI-created content or ideas—more on this to come.)
- Limited knowledge of world and events after 2021 (This limitation is specific to ChatGPT. Bing, for example, searches the internet for sources and information, whereas ChatGPT is limited to the data available at the time of its creation.)
Ideas for How to Use AI Tools
I asked three ACE content creators how they use ChatGPT and other AI tools and how exercise professionals and health coaches can make the most of this resource.
“I view it as a personal assistant,” says Sabrena Jo, PhD, ACE Senior Director of Science and Research, whose content-related responsibilities include weekly “Science Saturday” posts on the ACE social media channels. The idea here is that you, not the AI, are the expert and the “boss.” Because of the potential for misinformation, you must be vigilant in your review of any content before you use it in a blog, on your website or in a social media post. “The best advice I can give,” says Dr. Jo, “is don’t go outside your area of expertise.”
8 Ways to Make the Most of Your New AI Assistant
- Be specific. For example, saying you are a group fitness instructor will give you more personalized results than if you say exercise professional. Also, give your location to receive community-specific responses. Finally, a longer prompt with a lot of details will help the AI narrow its response.
- Dig deeper with follow-up questions. This is where AI becomes most powerful, as it gives you the opportunity to gain more insight into a particular area or branch off into an entirely new direction.
- Provide a word count. This can be helpful even if you’re not trying to draft a blog or article. For example, you can ask for “a 100-word paragraph covering…” rather than simply asking your question. That way, you don’t get more information than you need and the AI has limits on what it will create.
- Experiment with tone and style. This might include something like “use a wittier voice” or “write tips for first-time personal training clients.” Telling the AI who your audience is and the style or tone you’re seeking will give you more usable results.
- Be creative. AI can be of great use even if you’re not a “writer.” Use it as a brainstorming partner to identify and then improve upon your weaknesses as a professional or to find ways to expand your business.
- Use it as an assistant. AI can take over smaller tasks that drain valuable time from your day. For example, you can use it to draft a welcome email for new clients or a list of tips to stay active while on vacation that you can send to clients who are going to miss a week of sessions or classes.
- Use it to rewrite existing text. Maybe you’ve written a short blog and want to turn it into a series of social media posts. You can simply ask the AI to “create 3 social media posts based on the following content.” Or, perhaps you have written something that seems too formal. You can paste it into your prompt and ask AI to rewrite it in a friendlier tone.
- Use your expertise. This is probably the most important strategy, as any AI-derived content should not be explicitly trusted. It’s up to you to ensure that what you’re using is credible and accurate.
For example, if you have never taught a Pilates class, don’t ask ChatGPT to draft a 500-word blog on Pilates in an effort to add more content to your website. If the resulting blog contains misinformation or, in a worst-case scenario, something that is unsafe or sets your readers up for injury, you are responsible for that content. Remember, it’s your assistant, not an expert you’re explicitly trusting. You’re asking it to perform tasks for you, but you must use your expertise to ensure the credibility of the content you provide to your clients or social media followers.
Another important step is to go to any cited sources and make sure they’re credible and up to date. Bing, for example, will provide sources to back up its content and supply you with those links. You can even provide a link to a website that you trust and ask a question based on that content. For example, you might provide a link to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans and ask, “Based on this content, what are 10 strategies to add more movement to my sedentary workday?”
If used as an assistant, “it can really give you back some hours in your day,” says Dr. Jo, especially if you’re responsible for creating content. “These tools can help alleviate the mental fatigue of thinking ‘Where do I even begin?’”
Lee Jordan, MS, NBC-HWC, ACE Master Coach and presenter, frequently writes ACE blogs and is a go-to resource when it comes to health coaching content. “I have used it as an active brainstorming partner to help with various projects,” he says. “Currently, its greatest value to ACE Pros is that it costs nothing to use and they can therefore lean into their curiosity and experiment with it in many ways. As the pursuit of wellness continues to grow within the digital realm, the importance and utility of AI, such as ChatGPT, will exponentially rise and grow. Therefore, ACE Pros benefit when they understand not only what is happening, but also how to harness it.”
Araceli De Leon, MS, who is the ACE Business and Career Content Manager and oversees the ACE Pro Compass website and the ACE Pro Connect app, recommends you harness the power of AI by asking questions about your career, separate from any concerns about writing blogs or creating social media. For example, you might ask, “What are some creative ways to retain personal-training clients in a studio setting,” “What tools will I need to transition from teaching in-person group fitness classes to online classes?” or “What are some sales techniques I can use to turn potential clients to actual paying clients?”
De Leon suggests pros resist the temptation to ask AI to, “Put together a workout for my 60-year-old client who has right knee pain,” for example, as exercise programming is something that requires a high level of expertise and personalization. “Instead, think about the things that are a little bit more challenging for you and your business,” she says, “and leverage these tools in that way.”
By asking pointed questions and then following up to dig deeper, you may uncover creative ways to improve your business acumen and develop confidence in other elements of being a professional in the fitness industry.
De Leon often uses ChatGPT to brainstorm ideas not only for developing content, but also for other elements of her job. For example, she has asked ChatGPT to “Brainstorm ideas to increase participation in my app community” and to “Outline a step-by-step process to create a website for health and exercise professionals.”
Jordan and Jo sometimes use AI to play with the tone of content they are creating. For example, Jordan says that you can design your prompts to include instructions like, “Write this in the voice of Brené Brown” or “Write this with a humorous tone and use emojis.”
Jo, who admits that she tends to write in a somewhat dry, scientific style, will sometimes cut and paste some content she has written—a short social media post, for example—and ask the AI to, “Rewrite the following sentence in a friendlier and more humorous tone.”
The possibilities are truly limitless, so, as Jordan suggests, lean into your curiosity and explore how these resources can help improve not only your written content, but also other elements of your business.
Examples of AI in Action
Example #1. Most ACE Pros who have a social media presence are constantly developing content to put on their various channels. So, you might ask for “5 ideas for social media posts to inspire my personal training clients to get more active in the summer months.”
- Highlight outdoor workout locations: Share photos or videos of beautiful outdoor workout locations in your area, such as parks, beaches, and hiking trails. Encourage your clients to take advantage of the warm weather and get some fresh air while they exercise.
- Offer summer fitness challenges: Create fun and engaging fitness challenges that your clients can participate in throughout the summer months. For example, challenge them to complete a certain number of workouts each week, or to try a new outdoor activity each week, like kayaking or paddleboarding.
- Share healthy summer recipes: Summer is a great time for fresh, healthy, and seasonal foods. Share some of your favorite healthy summer recipes on social media, and encourage your clients to try them out for themselves. You can also offer nutrition tips to help them stay on track with their healthy eating goals.
- Showcase client success stories: Share success stories and testimonials from your clients who have made progress with their fitness goals over the summer. This can inspire your other clients to keep pushing themselves and stay committed to their own goals.
- Provide motivational quotes and messages: Share motivational quotes and messages on your social media pages to inspire and encourage your clients. Remind them of the benefits of exercise, such as improved mood, increased energy, and better overall health and wellness.
From here, you may decide to focus on bullet 1, but want it to be specific to the community where you live. I live in Asheville, NC, so I followed up by asking for the “Best places to exercise outdoors in the Asheville NC area.” ChatGPT responded with six options. (I’ve edited this list for brevity, as each option include a one- or two-sentence description.)
- Blue Ridge Parkway
- Bent Creek Experimental Forest
- French Broad River Park
- Carrier Park
- Warren Wilson College
- North Carolina Arboretum
I then realized that not only might this be great social media content, but this may also be an opportunity to expand class offerings, so I asked, “As a group fitness instructor, can I legally charge clients to exercise in any of these locations?”
As a group fitness instructor, you may need to obtain permits or approvals from the appropriate authorities to charge clients to exercise in public outdoor spaces in Asheville. Each park or outdoor space may have different rules and regulations regarding commercial activity, so it's important to check with the appropriate authorities to determine what permits or approvals may be necessary.
For example, if you want to charge clients to conduct a fitness class in a city park like French Broad River Park or Carrier Park, you may need to obtain a permit from the City of Asheville's Parks and Recreation department. Similarly, if you plan to conduct a fitness class at the North Carolina Arboretum, you may need to obtain approval from the Arboretum's events coordinator.
It's also important to note that some parks or outdoor spaces may not allow commercial activity at all. For instance, the Blue Ridge Parkway is a federally owned and operated park, and commercial activity is generally prohibited without a special use permit from the National Park Service.
Overall, it's best to research and understand the rules and regulations of each outdoor space and obtain any necessary permits or approvals before charging clients to exercise in these areas.
As you can see, the conversational aspect of ChatGPT allows you to go in countless directions, and the fact that it remembers previous elements of the conversation means you can return to ask follow-up questions or for clarification on earlier points. From that brief conversation, I now have five potential social media topics, a list of places I can recommend to my class participants to get some outdoor exercise and some guidance on how to legally teach outdoor classes in my community.
Example #2. You are trying to write a blog about how to add more vegetables to your diet but have been staring at the blank screen for a while and just don’t know where to begin. So, you ask ChatGPT to “Provide an outline with headings and subheadings for a blog on how to add more vegetables to your diet and include practical strategies.”
Explanation of the benefits of adding more vegetables to your diet
Brief overview of the content of the blog
II. Assessing Your Current Vegetable Intake
Identifying the amount of vegetables you currently consume
Evaluating the nutritional content of the vegetables you eat
III. Benefits of Adding More Vegetables to Your Diet
Overview of the nutritional benefits of consuming more vegetables
Explanation of how a vegetable-rich diet can improve overall health
Discussion of how vegetables can prevent chronic diseases
IV. Strategies for Adding More Vegetables to Your Diet A. Incorporating Vegetables into Your Meals
Adding vegetables to your breakfast
Preparing vegetable-based snacks
Making vegetables a main component of lunch and dinner
B. Making Vegetables Taste Better
Using spices and seasonings to enhance the flavor of vegetables
Roasting vegetables to add depth of flavor
Experimenting with new recipes and cooking techniques
C. Incorporating Vegetables into Your Lifestyle
Planting a vegetable garden
Joining a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program
Shopping for vegetables at a farmer's market
Recap of the strategies for adding more vegetables to your diet
Final thoughts on the importance of consuming more vegetables for optimal health.
Now, you might not use all those suggestions, but this certainly gives you a quality starting point.
Example #3. August is National Black Business Month and you want to raise awareness in your community and use this as an opportunity to network with likeminded business owners, so you ask ChatGPT to “Provide two suggestions for social media posts about National Black Business Month.”
- Celebrate Black Business Excellence: August is National Black Business Month, and we're proud to support and uplift black-owned businesses. From food to fashion, tech to beauty, black entrepreneurs are making an impact in every industry. Let's celebrate their excellence and encourage others to #BuyBlack all year round!
- Share Your Favorite Black-Owned Businesses: It's National Black Business Month, and we want to hear from you! Share your favorite black-owned businesses in the comments below and tag them so we can all show them some love. Let's support these amazing entrepreneurs and help their businesses thrive! #ShopBlack #SupportBlackBusinesses
Then, you ask, “How can my health coaching business network with local Black-owned businesses to improve the health of my community?” (Side note: I mistyped “Black” as “Blank,” but the AI recognized my error from the context of the conversation and responded appropriately. Also, note that this was edited for brevity, as each of these suggestions included a paragraph of content.)
- Attend local events
- Offer your services
- Collaborate on events
- Sponsor local initiatives
- Create a referral network
From there, you might ask for a list of Black-owned businesses in your area, then dig deeper to identify those that might be good collaborative partners. This is another example of how the conversations with AI can go in different directions and help you in multiple ways. Here, I’ve created social media posts that will serve as a form of community outreach, gathered some ideas for how to collaborate with other business owners and will soon have a list of potential networking partners.
In all of these examples, you can see how ChatGPT and other AI-powered tools can help not only with content creation, but also with countless other elements of being a health coach, exercise professional or business owner.
One of the most challenging aspects of using ChatGPT and other AI tools is writing quality prompts. If your questions or requests are too vague, the AI has too much information from which to draw. Being specific and following up with questions or requests for clarification can be the key to uncovering quality content.
You can also revisit conversations that yielded good results and ask ChatGPT to repeat that process on a new topic. For example, if you’ve used AI to create a 10-item list of ways to add more vegetables to your diet as a social media companion to the blog in Example #2 and found that the posts drove a lot of engagement, you can return to that conversation and ask the AI to “Create a similar list for how to replace refined grains with whole grains.”
Don’t forget the importance of tone and style. A scientifically accurate blog won’t gain much traction if it’s boring or the title doesn’t grab readers’ attention. You can ask ChatGPT to be more lighthearted, more descriptive or even more like your favorite author (a prompt of “Write one sentence to describe hiking in the voice of J.R.R. Tolkien” yielded “With sturdy boots on their feet and staffs in hand, the wanderers set forth on a winding path through verdant forests and rugged mountains, their hearts stirred by the call of adventure and the thrill of discovery.”)
Speaking of the thrill of discovery, ChatGPT and these other AI-driven tools can be a fun and creative way to not only streamline some of your work processes, but also expand the work you do in exciting new directions. So, don’t be afraid to explore these resources—you might be surprised by how useful they can be, and by the directions your conversations take you.