Understanding Fitness Motivation
First of all, exercise adoption is based on behavioral change. Secondly, adoption requires breaking old habits and replacing them with new ones. Thirdly, it requires motivation, or a psychological drive that gives behavior direction and purpose. Additionally, motivation to start an exercise program can come from any source. The most important factor is the persons readiness. Some popular reasons to start an exercise program include: concerns over health, an upcoming event, to look better, or because of peer pressure. Unfortunately, only 20% of people meet aerobic and strengthening guidelines (key concept).*
Personal trainers need to understand the transtheoretical model of behavior change. Furthermore, personal trainers should use interventions specific to the stage of change in order to increases their client’s success in adopting a new behavior
Adherence is voluntary and active involvement in an exercise program. Factors that motivate a client to get started don’t necessarily motivate them to adhere.
ACE recommends 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity per week. In addition, adults should engage in muscle strengthening activities of moderate to high intensity of all major muscle groups at least 2 days per week.
Personal trainers should always design exercise programs based on the clients needs. Never take a one size fits all approach. Fifty-percent of people who start an exercise program will drop out in the first 6 months. Therefore, it is our job to create a program that is positive and valued.
Intrinsic And Extrinsic Motivation
There are 2 types of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic. A client is intrinsically motivated when they engage in exercise activity for the inherent pleasure and experience. They like the social engagement or challenges and skill development. Either way, they truly enjoy it and associate it with positive attitudes, happiness, freedom, and/or relaxation. Clients who are intrinsically motivated will show maximal effort and persistence when faced with barriers.
Next, a client is extrinsically motivated when they engage in activity for any benefit other than the joy or participation. Including: losing weight, being healthy, making their spouse happy, looking good, meeting new people. Therefore, these clients, feel tension, guilt or pressure to participate.
A personal trainers job should be to enhance feelings of enjoyment that come with participating in an exercise program. We can do this by creating experiences for mastery, providing persistent feedback, including our clients in designing the program, and creating an environment that is aesthetically pleasing. While, these may help clients increase their situational motivation, during exercise, it might not last long term. Hence, our second job is to increase motivation at the contextual level, meaning how they view exercise. We can do this by empowering a client with control over their journey, teaching self-efficacy and autonomy (key concept).*
Self-efficacy is a belief in one’s ability to successfully engage in a physical activity program. Belief influences thought patterns and emotional responses and behaviors. Self-efficacy is positively related to motivation. When someone has a positive attitude, they will put in more effort and stay more persistent. Thus, it is our job to design workouts that our clients can master in order to create short-term successes. In addition, the program should allow the client to demonstrate growth & achievement and build on previous accomplishments. Finally, we should provide verbal support throughout their program progression.
Past performance is the most important source of self-efficacy. Creating success and build confidence are important jobs of a trainer. Additionally, we should not do too many assessments on the first visit but rather weave them into the first workout. The most important tools to preventing relapse are planning ahead and being prepared. Barriers to involvement in a program include: time, finances, prioritizing, scheduling, support issues, dislike and dissatisfaction (key concept).*
Clients need education throughout the program to avoid relapse. Always continue your support after a relapse. In addition, an important relapse prevention strategy is to develop and maintain a social support network for exercise, increase support from family, create group involvement, and make them a part of a team.
First of all, to prevent relapse a client can increase social support by finding a partner, asking family and friends to encourage with positivity, asking friends and family to remind them about goals and appointments, and setting up contests or rewards based on meeting their process goals. Consequently, clients who add a social support element and find enjoyable activities adhere longer.
Secondly, clients can be taught to increase their assertiveness. Assertiveness is the honest and straightforward expression of one’s thoughts, feelings and beliefs.
Thirdly, personal trainers can teach clients to increase self regulation of behaviors, schedules, and time and priorities. Encourage clients to take control of their own journey as much as possible.
Next, personal trainers can help clients identify high risk situations. These clients will be more prepared to deal with program barriers and relapse. Poor time management skills, lack of social support and busy schedules increase the likelihood of relapse.
Factors Influencing Exercise Participation And Adherence
There are 3 main factors that influence exercise participation and adherence: personal attributes, environmental factors, and physical activity factors.
Personal attributes includes demographic variables, such as age, income and gender. Increased age, fewer years of education and lower incomes lead to lower levels of activity. Age is unrelated to adherence in a supervised setting. Men also tend to adhere longer then women. Secondly, personal attributes include health status. Clients with chronic diseases, heart disease, and diabetes exercise less than healthy individuals. Thirdly, the most important personal attribute is activity history or past program participation. This is the same for age, gender and chronic disease. Next, personal attributes include psychological traits, including general tendencies or their personality and psychological makeup. Knowledge, attitudes and beliefs also modify the way an individual thinks and feels about exercise. Clients with perceived poor health, low locus of control, or many perceived barriers are less likely to adhere.
Environmental factors influencing adherence include: access to facilities, time, and social support. Most noteworthy is lack of time, which is the most common excuse for not exercising or dropping out of a program.
Physical activity factors include: intensity and injury. Clients who engage in vigorous programs are 2 times more likely to drop out then those who engage in moderate intensity programs. Women are 6 times more likely and men are 2 times more likely to choose a moderate program when given the choice. Clients who suffer an injury are much more likely to drop out.
One of the most important roles a personal trainer has is to provide feedback. Clients learning is non-existent without feedback. Extrinsic feedback is reinforcement, error correction and encouragement by a personal trainer. Intrinsic feedback is information the client provides themselves based on their own sensory information (feel, see, hear). Adherence is dependent on a client’s ability to provide their own feedback. Personal trainers should taper off their feedback as client’s motivation, efficacy and abilities develop. Knowledge of results is the type of feedback that provides information on progress. We should use feedback to adjust a client’s goals.
Effective personal trainers are those who successfully influence the way their clients think, feel and behave. Leadership components include: professionalism, practicing what you preach, never breaking trust/confidentiality, listening, demonstrating excitement, being innovative and educating, using systematic goal setting, teaching relapse prevention, and including your client in the planning of their program.
Personal trainers should also educate clients on the importance of goal setting. Proper goal setting will occur when we avoid setting too many goals, avoid setting negative goals, set short and long-term process and performance goals and revisit our goals on a regular basis. We can also use goal setting as an additional opportunity to build rapport, create conversation, and listen. Goals provide incite into our client’s needs. We can even create written contracts or agreements around their goals.