Is ChatGPT Better Than a Human Personal Trainer?

Is ChatGPT Better Than a Human Personal Trainer?
Contributor: Alison Izzo

When it comes to optimising your health, the options that AI and tools like ChatGPT present can seem endless. And overwhelming. Scroll TikTok or Instagram and you’ll see countless ‘ChatGPT set my perfect morning routine’ videos, or ‘I fired my nutrition coach with these ChatGPT prompts’. But could AI-fuelled apps or ChatGPT really replace your IRL fitness coach? 


For all the #fitness and #health people out there, this is a massive business opportunity for you using #chatgpt #sidehustle

♬ LoFi – Fluce

According to AI strategist and TikTok creator Justin Fineberg, yes. “AI is going to totally replace personal trainers and fitness coaches and nutritionists… Every single person on earth will have an AI personal trainer in the next five years.” Cue a flood of memes showing personal trainers floating down a moonlit river, crying into their protein shakes. 

The positives

The fitness world has actually been experimenting with the power of AI long before we were all asking ChatGPT to improve our resumes or to summarise long-winded Youtube videos for us. 

Apps like Aaptiv, Fitness AI and Freeletics (which, according to the brand, is Europe’s number one fitness app) are gaining momentum, and operate by using AI to generate personalised workouts and exercise plans based on detailed personal data from the user. As with ChatGPT, the more detailed information you feed it, the better the results. These apps certainly have an advantage over other non-AI-powered fitness apps as they’re able to create bespoke plans, catering to specific health or fitness goals. 

The value these AI-powered apps provide is in the interface and user experience – matching bespoke videos and content to the workout plans – which makes for a far more engaging experience than following a robotic list of instructions like “Five reps of bicep curls, of five kilograms each” – which is the kind of content that ChatGPT will spit out for you. 

ChatGPT, however, unlike most of these AI apps, is free. So if it’s personalised, low-cost and no-frills fitness advice you’re after, ChatGPT could be a good option. 


When you use ChatGPT as your personal trainer and nutritionist and its actually working

♬ Keep Dat Nigga – iCandy

Embracing the enemy

Understandably, there is fear from the personal training community surrounding emerging AI technology (and they’re not alone – just ask any copywriter how they feel about ChatGPT…). However, there are also upsides if PTs can utilise and integrate AI into their existing workflows.

Business coach Charlene Johnson states emphatically that the potential impact of AI for the wider industry should not be underestimated, saying that “ChatGPT is going to change the game for those of you who are in fitness”, suggesting that PTs can use ChatGPT to cut down on the time and effort involved in the admin of creating workout plans; being able to spit out customised meal plans and even generate a table and graph to help clients track their progress in seconds. “This type of preparation would have taken me hours,” she tells her TikTok community brightly. 


CHATGPT could be used to create customized meal plans and workout programs to help people lose weight, gain muscle, or otherwise achieve their fitness goals. This tool could save personal trainers, hundreds of hours and improve their ability to help clients. So what are your thoughts?

♬ original sound – Chalene Johnson

The negatives

Ben Lucas, founder of Paddington’s Flow Athletic gym, feels similarly to Johnson, saying that he’s not scared of an AI bot taking his job – and he can see the advantages in regards to program personalisation and for tracking results, surmising that “it is doable”. However, he has reservations as to whether AI could ever replace an IRL fitness coach. 

For Sam Wood, founder of the 28 by Sam Wood online fitness platform, it’s clear that for some parts of the fitness industry, AI is a win, but it will never replace the human element in other areas – and it could, in fact, be harmful to consumers.

AI will enhance the online fitness experience. The quest [for personal trainers] is always about enhancing connection and personalisation for your members… AI could absolutely be used in helping gym software for marketing, [client] retention, or onboarding purposes but I think for personal training it adds far less value and could actually reduce the client experience.” 

Lucas sagely lists the potential drawbacks for people who do use a ChatGPT-like interface instead of a personal trainer – citing the risk of injury for people unfamiliar with the exercises prescribed, the lack of social community without face-to-face interaction (leading to a lack of commitment), and also the inability for a bot-dictated training plan to pivot during a workout or training journey due to injury or a change in emotional temperament from the client. 

Wood is emphatic on this last downside, too.

“I have been a trainer for 22 years and done over 60,000 PT sessions, and every client and every session is a different human interaction based on many factors. How you work with your clients is as much, if not more, about understanding how the emotional and psychological status of your client impacts that session but also their behaviours and habits in between sessions,” he said.

Ultimately, this lack of accountability could result in people putting down their ChatGPT-generated workout plan and never picking it up again. 

As well as the likelihood of giving up before you get the results you want, there may also be considerable danger in using ChatGPT if your prompts are weight loss related. Lucas warns that the bot’s reliance on data for results can be problematic, saying that “A good trainer should look at more than that… You may not lose weight immediately, but your personal trainer will be able to see your skill and performance improving instead.” 

Straight from the horse’s mouth

It would be remiss of me if I didn’t ask ChatGPT directly for comment on this topic, and although the answer I got was a little robotic, it was refreshingly free from ego. When I asked ChatGPT if it would replace human personal trainers in the foreseeable future, the bot replied with a lengthy explanation that eerily mirrored Lucas’ reasoning but concluded by saying:

Overall, while I can be a useful resource for information and guidance on fitness and exercise, I do not believe that I will replace personal fitness trainers in the future. Personal trainers provide a level of personalised guidance, hands-on support, and motivation and accountability that I cannot provide.”

Alison Izzo is a Sydney-based freelance writer, editor, podcaster, brand consultant and fashion lecturer who delights in the fact she can test out the latest workout or face cream and legitimately call it work. You can follow her escapades in wellness, beauty and fashion on Instagram here

The Cheapest NBN 50 Plans

Here are the cheapest plans available for Australia’s most popular NBN speed tier.

At Lifehacker, we independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. We have affiliate and advertising partnerships, which means we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. BTW – prices are accurate and items in stock at the time of posting.


Leave a Reply