Dr. Erin Nitschke by Dr. Erin Nitschke

In an era driven by technological advancements, the realm of health and exercise is undergoing a profound transformation. Artificial intelligence (AI), with its ability to analyze vast amounts of data and uncover meaningful patterns, is increasingly finding its place within the domains of personal training and health coaching. The integration of AI into these fields holds immense potential to revolutionize the way professionals deliver services, enhance client experiences and empower them to achieve better health outcomes. By harnessing the power of AI, health coaches and exercise professionals can unlock new avenues of personalization, efficiency and evidence-based decision-making. 

This article serves as a guide for health coaches and exercise professionals looking to navigate the vast landscape of AI and leverage its potential to their advantage. The various applications of AI in personal training and health coaching are discussed, shedding light on its benefits and addressing the ethical considerations that accompany its integration. Additionally, practical strategies and resources are provided that can empower professionals to embrace AI as a valuable ally in their practices. 

As the boundaries between human expertise and technological innovation blur, it is crucial for health coaches and exercise professionals to understand how AI can augment their skills and elevate their impact. By staying at the forefront of this transformative wave, professionals can ensure they are equipped to provide clients with the best possible support, guidance and outcomes. 

AI Opportunities 

At the intersection of computer science, machine learning and advanced data analytics, AI has emerged as a revolutionary force with the ability to enhance and augment human capabilities. From powering virtual assistants and self-driving cars to revolutionizing healthcare and predicting natural disasters, AI's impact spans across numerous industries. Let’s look at some creative and innovative ways AI can help you as a health coach or exercise professional.  

Dr. Ted Vickey, a member of ACE’s Scientific Advisory Panel and fitness technology expert, had this to say about using AI in fitness: “Some tasks are working “IN” your business, and other tasks are working “ON” your business. Working “IN” your business is what you do with the client. The most obvious is the creation of a workout plan. Rather than thinking that what AI generates is the gold standard/expert workout builder, think of it as a way to brainstorm to find the most optimal plan for the client. It’s no different from using a textbook or education from a continuing education course to create the plan—taking various tools you like and can verify to make a workout. I will caution that if you use AI to create an exercise plan, always review it before giving it to a client. That is where you, as the [health coach or exercise] professional, become important. You know your client. You know the science behind exercise and wellness. As for working “ON” your business, these tasks include writing, brainstorming, social media creation, business tasks, instructional content and customer service.” 

Bryan O’Rourke, founder and CEO for Vedere Ventures, adds, “AI can significantly benefit practices in various areas. It can enhance data analysis, enabling tailored… plans precisely. Additionally, AI-driven behavior tracking and predictive analytics help identify patterns and adjust strategies, ultimately improving clients' outcomes and adherence to their goals.” 

In addition, O’Rourke and Vickey agree on another significant question regarding AI and its use in health and exercise. Does AI have the potential to improve accessibility to health and fitness services for a wider population? An enthusiastic “yes” can be heard from both. 

Vickey notes that integrating AI technology can revolutionize how professionals deliver their services, “making them more inclusive, convenient, and personalized.” He highlights three specific ways accessibility can be positively impacted by AI:  

  • Online coaching and guidance: AI-powered platforms can provide personalized support to individuals needing in-person services. Regardless of location or limited mobility, people can receive customized workout plans, information about foods to be included in a balanced diet and real-time feedback on their form and technique. This virtual approach eliminates the four physical walls of a gym and other barriers. It opens new possibilities for individuals in remote areas, allowing them to benefit from expert guidance and support.  
  • AI-enabled wearable devices and health-monitoring tools: These devices have the potential to transform self-care and preventive healthcare. AI algorithms can provide valuable insights and early detection of potential health issues by continuously collecting and analyzing data on vital signs, activity levels, sleep patterns and more. This ultimately means that consumers, armed with better knowledge and awareness, can take steps to seek early and necessary intervention. It’s important to note that analyzing data to diagnose any conditions or injuries is beyond the scope of health coaches and exercise professionals.
  • Personalized recommendations and adaptive programs based on extensive data analysis: AI can be used to assist exercise professionals and heath coaches in creating individualized exercise plans and in determining the best way to communicate principles of healthy nutrition and food preparation. AI is a helpful resource and the data analysis it provides can be valuable. However, AI will not do all of the work for you. As a health coach or exercise professional, you need to provide AI with a robust amount of information about your client to allow the AI to assist you in creating resources that suit your clients’ unique needs, including their health history, preferences and goals. Once generated, the AI content should be carefully reviewed for accuracy and for alignment with your scope of practice. This level of personalization not only improves the effectiveness of health and fitness interventions, but may also enhance engagement and motivation. In addition, people with chronic diseases and older adults may be more likely to adhere to their exercise routines when they are designed specifically for them. 

O’Rourke shares that AI “enables remote support, making health and wellness guidance more convenient and cost-effective.”