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How Fitness Coaches Should Use AI for Program Design

How Fitness Coaches Should Use AI for Program Design

Your ability to use AI to write training programs rests on how well you can speak its language. Follow these principles to craft effective prompts

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become a popular tool in a ton of industries across the world over the last year or so. In a previous exploration of AI in coaching, we dove into how AI intersects with fitness coaching and discussed how it could be perceived not as a threat but as a beneficial in our coaching practices.

Today, let’s go a bit deeper, focusing on the practical utilization of ChatGPT in designing training programs, using the build of a 5k row progression as a case study.

The objective is to extrapolate and generalize the principles applied here for myriad scenarios in your coaching practice.

Principles for Optimizing AI

  1. Define Clear Intentions:

Understand exactly what you intend to get from ChatGPT. Is it recommendations, prescriptions or feedback?

  1. Personalization is Key:

General inputs yield general outputs. Specificity and personalization for each client will optimize the results ChatGPT shoots back to you.

  1. Mastering the Prompting Game:

The output’s effectiveness is contingent on the quality of your input. Ensure your prompts are explicit, specific and well-structured.

  1. Refinement Process:

To hone in on more tailored responses, continue refining with supplementary prompts after the initial response is generated.

Practical Implementation

In this scenario, my goal is to use ChatGPT in designing an 8-week rowing program, personalized to the client’s unique inputs. Below is the structured prompt:

Construct an 8-week row progression for my client aiming to enhance their 5k row time trial, incorporating:

– Current 5k Row Time = [ 23:47 ]

– Limitations = [Quadriceps muscle fatigue, oxygenation issues around the 15-min mark]

– Days to Train = [ 2 ]

Decoding the Prompt Structure

It’s pivotal to be specific and succinct in your prompt as AI doesn’t possess the capability to interpret your thoughts (well at least not yet). Differentiating between the task and the contextual data is crucial for precision, as I showed here by the use of brackets.

Why is this significant? The output’s quality is directly correlated to the input’s relevance and specificity. By filling the brackets with personalized client data, ChatGPT will generate more accurate and beneficial outputs.

Let’s dive in, deploy this prompt and dissect the program and its components.

Analysis of Results

Approach and Contextualization

ChatGPT, considering the identified limitations, provides initial context, detailing the intended priority areas of the program. It did a pretty good job here.

Program Structure

See Also

The program it spit out used a linear progression model, increasing volume on the easy aerobic day (Day 1) and increasing intensity on the tough aerobic day (Day 2). 

Although that was pretty good, I prompted ChatGPT for further refinement, requesting exact pacing for each session based on the race pace. My exact prompt back was, “Keep the same program, but give me exact paces per 500m for each workout based on the race pace of 23:47.” This hit the 4th principle of refining by giving additional prompts, and it did just that:

I could follow up with even more refinement prompts to add another day, take one away, ask for specific damper settings based on our testing setting, etc., but ChatGPT did a pretty good job based on the context I gave it.

Although it might not be perfect (what really is?), AI can definitely streamline program design, allowing more time for fostering client relationships and focusing on the human-centric aspects of coaching, which AI cannot replicate. I’ve put together a database of prompts that coaches can use for tasks ranging from program design to nutrition coaching. Click here to access it.

It’s worth repeating, in my opinion, that AI, when leveraged correctly, is not a threat but an asset to fitness coaches. It’s our guide to personalizing and refining fitness regimens for optimal client benefit. 

AI doesn’t diminish the importance of the coach; instead, it can enhance our ability to deliver personalized, efficient and impactful coaching experiences if we make the decision to put the relationship first.

See Carl’s previous column here.

Next week’s column: Who Is Your Target Market?

Carl Hardwick, CEO of OPEX Fitness & CoachRx, is a strong advocate for bringing honor to the coaching profession and raising the value of all fitness coaches. He lectures frequently about program design, business systems, and building a sustainable coaching career. Follow him on Instagram @hardwickcarl and OPEX Fitness on YouTube

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