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There is no shortage of fitness-tracking apps that monitor your walks, runs, or trips to the gym. But app development agency 9elements instead uses a bot to track your daily training regime.

Gymbot is a Facebook Messenger bot designed to give you a simple way to record your strength-building and cardio workouts. It adheres to a pretty simple format spread across the two core exercise types — for strength training it’s: exercise #weight / #repetitions / #number of sets. For example, you could enter “triceps 30/4/10.” And for cardio, it’s: exercise #duration / #distance / #calories, e.g. “cycle 20/10/450.”


Above: Gymbot

When you’ve finished an exercise, flip open Messenger, input your vital stats, and that’s it. There are a number of other potentially useful commands too — “help” prompts a little onscreen walk-through of how the bot works, while “exercises” lists the kinds of individual exercises it tracks.

Gymbot Stats

Above: Gymbot Stats

It’s far from a perfect system, though. There is no way to “localize” the units of measurement, as you could in a typical fitness tracking app — it works in miles rather than kilometers, and pounds rather than kilograms. Plus, it’s not really “conversational” in the way some bots are — you can’t ask or answer questions, and it has a fairly limited set of commands.

Another flaw is that it requires the user to input a calorie metric for cardio — most people who go out for a run ’round the park probably won’t know how many calories they’ve burned. And this serves to remind us of the target audience and why this bot has “gym” in its name — it’s aimed at those running on a treadmill rather than at outdoor fitness enthusiasts.

My hunch here is that those with a penchant for tracking their fitness stats will prefer a more feature-rich tool, along the lines of a Runtastic-style mobile app that allows manual data input. And many such apps are also compatible with gym equipment, meaning a user simply plugs their phone into the running machine to record the data automatically.

At any rate, Gymbot serves as an interesting use case for bots, a craze that has already led to a large number of Messenger bots  — 11,000, in total. Last week, travel-planning search engine Hipmunk joined the party with an A.I.-powered assistant that gives automated advice to would-be travelers. And American Express demoed a Facebook Messenger bot with purchase alerts and restaurant recommendations, among other tidbits.

Among Messenger users on the hunt for a simple tool that collates their manually recorded fitness data into a neat table, Gymbot could find some fans.




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