Hit the gym
Despite the varying quality of ChatGPT’s fitness tips, some people follow the advice at the gym.
John Yu, a TikTok content creator in the US, filmed herself following a six-day full-body workout program courtesy of ChatGPT. He instructed it to give him a sample workout plan each day, tailored to the part of his body he wanted to train (his arms, legs, etc.), and then did whatever workout it gave him.
The exercises it came up with were perfectly fine and easy enough to follow. However, Yu found that the moves lacked variety. “Strictly following what ChatGPT gives me is something I’m not really interested in,” he says.
Le Lem, a bodybuilding content creator based in Australia, had a similar experience. He asked ChatGPT to create an “optimum leg day” program. It suggested the right types of exercises — squats, lunges, deadlifts, and so on — but the rest times in between were way too short. “It is difficult!” says Lem laughing. “It’s very unrealistic to rest for just 30 seconds between squat sets.”
Lem hit the core issue with ChatGPT’s suggestions: they don’t take human bodies into account. Both he and Yu found that repetitive movements quickly make us bored or tired. Human coaches know how to mix up their suggestions. ChatGPT must be told explicitly.
However, for some, the appeal of AI-produced training is still irresistible – and something they’re even willing to pay for. Ahmed Mire, a software engineer based in London, sells ChatGPT-produced subscriptions for $15 each. People give him their training goals and specifications, and he implements them through ChatGPT. He says he’s been signing up customers since the service launched last month and is also considering adding the option to create diet plans. ChatGPT is free, but he says people pay for the convenience.
What united everyone I spoke to was their decision to treat ChatGPT’s workout suggestions as entertaining experiments rather than serious athletic guidance. They all had enough knowledge of fitness, and what works and what doesn’t work for their bodies, to recognize the weaknesses of the model. They all knew to treat the answers with skepticism. People who are just starting to exercise may be more inclined to take them for granted.
The future of fitness?
This does not mean that AI models cannot or should not play a role in developing fitness plans. But it does underline that they cannot necessarily be trusted. ChatGPT will improve and could learn to ask its own questions. For example, it can ask users if there are any exercises they dislike, or inquire about any nagging injuries. But essentially it can’t come up with original suggestions and has no fundamental understanding of the concepts it spews out.