Apple is developing a digital fitness companion system based around its iPhone and iPod touch players aimed a helping people live a healthier lifestyle, AppleInsider has discovered.

A series of patent filings shows ideas for the system, including an iTunes-like software application, hardware-based heart rate and other sensors, a rewards tracker, and a component for group activities.

Described as like a more advanced version of the Nike + iPod system, the application would "interview" the user to find out their fitness goals, desired activity level, fitness interests (such as jogging, yoga and swimming), fitness goals, weight goals, desired workout schedule, etc.

Strangely, the patent suggests delving into more that the user's fitness preferences with non-health topics like religion, finances, job history and marital status mentioned in the patent as perhaps being included in the interview process.

"The lifestyle companion system also can interview the user about non-health related topics, e.g., spirituality, religion, identity (e.g., sense of belonging), relationships, career, financial condition, environment, hobbies, interests, other personal information, and goals regarding the same", the patent reads.

Once the interview process is completed, the software will created a workout regiment based around their feedback on goals and fitness interests tailor-made to the individual user.

The regiment would then be synced to an iPhone or iPod touch, allowing the user to use their players as personal trainers while at the gym or out and about.

The hardware-based companion products consist of sensors for real-time feedback, as well as suggesting the possibility that future iPhones and iPods would include their own built-in sensors.