Can’t Afford A Personal Trainer? Artificial Intelligence Could Help

Mar 2, 2020

Personal training is a popular but expensive option in the $100 billion fitness industry; it can cost an average of $40-70/hour. Local startup Delta Trainer is using artificial intelligence to make personal training more accessible.

Everyone who signs up for Delta Trainer gets an Apple Watch and is connected with a remote personal trainer, who sets up a unique workout plan for each of their clients. But the trainer isn't there in person to monitor someone's squats and lunges; that's the AI's job.

Delta CEO and co-founder Matt Spettel said the company's app can tell if someone is executing a particular exercise properly. For example, if someone swings their arms too much while doing bicep curls, their watch will speak up.

"You were swinging the weights," a voice calls from Spettel's Apple Watch as he demonstrates. "Make sure to slow down and control your movement."

Apple Watches contain two sensors that track a person's movement through space. Spettel and his team used machine learning to teach their artificial intelligence how to use the sensor data to detect more than 100 types of exercises.

"Basically any exercise where your wrist is moving at all, we can track it," Spettel said. "Even if your wrist is on a bar, or on your body like a sit-up or squat, even if your wrist isn't moving with respect to you, the wrist is still moving with respect to the world."

After a workout, the trainer reviews their client's data, gives feedback and modifies the plan as needed. Spettel said the system not only makes personal training cheaper for consumers, but it also benefits the trainers.

"Most trainers don't have very high job satisfaction because they're part time," Spettel said. "Even though their hourly rate may be OK at some gyms, it's hard to fill a 40 hour work week with training. Because of this remote structure, we can have much more predictable hours and work."

Delta Trainer currently employs one trainer as a full-time employee, complete with benefits. Spettel said as the company grows, they plan to hire more full-time trainers to meet demand.

About 500 people tried Delta Trainer during beta testing, and Spettel said it was a succesful run. The company officially launched its service to the public Monday. The first month — and the Apple Watch — is risk free; it costs $100/month after that.