Personalized fitness routines and recommendations coming soon to your smartwatch

Apple custom fitness coaching

Over the past few years, we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of fitness tech platforms that have been made available to consumers.

The popularity of working out from home is here to stay, as evident from the demand for Peloton Bikes and subscription interest in digital health and fitness platforms such as Apple Fitness+, Peloton Digital, and Fitbit Premium.

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Currently, most available digital fitness platforms offer group or individual classes that are video-based with some amount of feedback. In the case of Apple Fitness+, this is via the burn-bar feature. However, the ability to customize a fitness regimen based on a specific user on these platforms is minimal.

You are limited to participating in one or many activity-based classes. For example, you can sign in and try out the HIIT program or Strength training program, or other similar programs on one of these platforms. There isn’t too much-customized coaching or tailoring of a fitness regimen based not only on your personal goal but also on your workout history.

Platforms such as Microsoft Band offered some customizations in the past. 

Using the Microsoft Health Web Dashboard, users can create a wholly self-made work with warm-ups, cool-down, peak exercise, and more. Third-party fitness apps on your phone or watch also offer some amount of customization. These customizations are, however, somewhat rudimentary.

That’s about to change soon….

Digital Health tech platforms are evaluating ways to offer automated yet customized fitness routines based on your training goal and the performance of your past workouts.

Garmin’s partner FirstBeat Analytics is exploring a process that can generate meaningful real-time NWR (Next workout recommendation) based on your existing VO2 max and your workout history.

Similarly, Apple is working on a process via which it can offer personalized coaching using a series of fitness notifications and individualized fitness programs that take into account your workout goal, monitor your glucose levels, and more.

Apple Watch as a customization and coaching device

Several recent Apple patents provide glimpses around how the company is thinking of innovating around its Fitness+ platform.

In a recent patent, ‘Determination and Presentation of Customized Notifications,’ Apple’s fitness lead, Jay Blahnik, and team offer a solution that uses customized notifications to keep a user on track on his or her fitness goal.Apple customized fitness

By using historical fitness data and the current fitness data of a user, the system can automatically determine if the user will be able to meet his or her fitness goal. Custom notifications are then used to encourage the user.Apple Health Coaching

Apple is also exploring how it can incorporate specific health data such as blood glucose levels into the training program and Cardio Fitness levels and other metrics.

FirstBeat Analytics (Garmin) designing customized training load

Firstbeat analytics, a leader in sports health and science and a subsidiary of Garmin, is also exploring the issue of personalized or customized training programs.

The company is exploring ways to generate appropriate NWR (next workout recommendation) based on the user’s current and past workout history.

In the patent approved today, ‘Method, apparatus and software product for providing a training program,’ the company highlights some of its work in progress.

The aim is to provide a flexible and adaptive training program. The training program provides training recommendations according to a set goal adaptively, taking into account the user’s detected workouts. 

The user’s fitness level may be measured from training history data, including information on performed training(s) of the user.

Alternatively, user-specific background information, for example, from age, gender, height, and/or weight, may affect the user’s fitness level. The fitness level may be measured via the maximum aerobic capacity, like a maximum oxygen consumption (VO2max) or a maximum metabolic equivalent (maxMET) and maxHR.custom-exercise-training-wearables

As a user trains towards achieving a fitness goal, the system will keep track of these metrics and the type of exercises, GPS coordinates, pace, distance, and other elements. It will be able to provide a customized workout recommendation.

Garmin’s process will not only look at the active metrics but will also focus on “Recovery.” The platform will suggest a light or moderate recovery based on HRV and the current training load of the user.

As users get acquainted with different Workout-from-home platforms, companies such as Apple, Garmin, and Peloton work overtime to determine how they can retain these users and reduce churn rate from their subscription platforms when the pandemic is behind us.

Several companies are also exploring technologies that will help with user pose and posture detection. This will allow users to wear tags on their body, and as they perform various exercises, they will be able to get real-time feedback around proper posture for the training.

Overall, the idea is to provide streaming video-based training using world-class coaches and leverage technology in a way so that it can provide actionable user insights and personalized coaching via a new generation of smartwatches and other wearables.

I am a technologist with years of experience with Apple and wearOS products and have a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. In my day job, I advise fortune 500 companies with their digital transformation strategies and also consult with numerous digital health startups in an advisory capacity. I'm VERY interested in exploring the digital health&fitness-tech evolution and keep a close eye on patents, FDA approvals, strategic partnerships and developments happening in the wearables and digital health sector. When I'm not writing or presenting, I run with my Apple Watch or Fossil Gen 5 LTE and keep a close eye on my HRV and other recovery metrics.

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