What is motivation in the fitness industry?

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Personal/Fitness Training Blog

“Motivation” is usually defined as the forces which account for the arousal, selection, direction as well as continuation of behaviour. Nevertheless, many personal trainers in the fitness industry have at least two main misconceptions about motivation which prevent them from using this concept with maximum effectiveness.

  • One misconception is that some clients are unmotivated. Strictly speaking, that is not an correct statement. As long as a client chooses goals and spends a certain amount of effort to achieve them, he is, by definition, motivated. What personal trainers really mean is that clients are not motivated to behave in the way trainer would like them to behave.
  • The second misconception is that one individual can directly motivate another person. This view is inaccurate as motivation comes from within a person.

What you – as a personal trainer – can do, with the assistance of various motivational theories is to create the circumstances that influence clients to do what you want them to do.

Cognitive views of motivation

Cognitive views emphasise that human behaviour is inspired by the way people think about themselves and their environment. The direction that behaviour takes can be described by four influences:

  • The innate need to construct an organised as well as logically consistent knowledge base,
  • One’s expectations for completing a task successfully,
  • The factors which one believes that account for success in addition to failure, and
  • One’s beliefs regarding the nature of cognitive ability.

Exercise adherence

One of the biggest challenges exercise professionals face is the challenge of convincing individuals to start exercising and get them to make a lifelong commitment to a physically active lifestyle.

More than 50% of adults in South Africa do not get the recommended amount of physical activity they need. Of these individuals, 50% starting an exercise programme will drop out within the first year.

As an exercise specialist in the fitness industry it is important to help the client develop a positive attitude towards physical activity so that they make a firm commitment to the exercise programme. Clients are likely to appreciate and stick to their programmes if feedback is accurate and fair. These tips are advice the personal trainer can share with their client to keep them on the right track:

Complete at least one action per day

Actions which are consistent will propel you in the direction of your goal. Even selecting a small task will make a reduction in your to-do list and may motivate you to do even more.

Set up a support system

Who or, alternatively, what can offer you with encouragement, advice, healthy feedback or a ready ear?

Reward yourself

Don’t wait until you reach your goal, particularly if it’s a long-term one. Reward yourself as you get to certain milestones. Something as basic as scheduling time for yourself or possibly a special treat that you’ve felt guilty about indulging in can maintain the  motivation to keep going

Discuss each client’s fitness goals individually

During the one-on-one motivational meeting at the beginning of the first training session identify fitness and exercise beliefs that your clients may have which could limit or hinder their ability to succeed in leading a more physically active life.

This helps you focus and individualise the fitness education and training that you provide each client in a way that will best help that specific client meet her short-and long-term fitness goals.

 Sign a written contract with your personal training clients

A signed contract is a powerful motivational tool that provides accountability and gives your fitness clients measurable goals. Make sure the contract lists each client’s fitness goals and responsibilities, including items such as overall weight loss goals and number of weekly hours spent exercising.

Don’t forget to let your client see that you’re keeping yourself accountable by including a section that lists your responsibilities toward your client, as well. Goals must be recognised in order to be effective Ensure that your client knows what’s expected of him/her and that he/she willingly accepts the challenge posed. Enthusiastically participate in the goal-setting process.

Motivating your clients to succeed with respect to their fitness goals is a key aspect of the job of any personal trainer.

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