What can video games teach us about training clients? Video games are designed to keep users intensely focused, highly motivated, creatively engaged and working at high limits of their abilities—immersed in the activity to the point where it is almost impossible to stop playing. Game play engages users through motivating experiences that trigger the release of neurochemicals in the brain, making the experience so pleasurable that it becomes addictive.newsletter_teaser: Both fitness professionals and game designers strive to keep people intensely focused, highly motivated, creatively engaged and working at high limits of their abilities! What can video games teach us about training clients?
Kara A. Witzke, PhD, leads the exercise and sport science program at Oregon State University-Cascades. Her work in the health and fitness industry spans more than 20 years and has included positions in personal training, cardiac rehabilitation, workplace wellness, fit- ness certification, weight management, education and research. Most recently, her research has focused on the effects of exercise on musculoskeletal and metabolic systems through funding from the National Institutes of Health.
Millions of Americans ring in the New Year with lofty intentions to lose weight and exercise more, so why is it that by March, most New Year’s resolutions have fizzled like stale champagne? Typically it’s because people start out with unrealistic goals, misjudging the difficulty of breaking deeply ingrained habits. Impractical goals lead to disappointments that undermine the willpower people need to keep their New Year’s resolutions.newsletter_teaser: Millions of Americans ring in the New Year with lofty intentions to lose weight and exercise more, so why is it that by March, most New Year’s resolutions have fizzled like stale champagne? Typically it’s because people start out with unrealistic goals, misjudging the difficulty of breaking deeply ingrained habits.
“People say, 'I'm going to sleep now,' as if it were nothing,” said comedian George Carlin. “But it's really a bizarre activity. For the next several hours, while the sun is gone, I'm going to become unconscious, temporarily losing command over everything I know and understand. When the sun returns, I will resume my life.”
Mere decades ago, it was unfathomable for baseball, football, soccer and basketball athletes to include strength and conditioning exercises in their training. Misinformation about what strength training would do (not for men and women, but to them) was pervasive then, and it persists to this day.
Thirty years ago, Fred Hoffman, MEd, 2007 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year, taught with a light heart and a heavy bag of vinyl records. “I brought a stack of albums with me to class,” he recalls. “I changed the music after each song, [switching] the LP each time. There was no such thing as mixed music!”
You know your next client, Doug, really well. He’s been working with you for 2 years, he’s committed to his fitness program, and while his body is already well-conditioned, he is determined to keep improving. His session will focus mainly on intense weightlifting, and Doug is used to “psyching himself up” before each set—he finds it helps—but you’ve both observed that it’s getting harder for him to make real gains. How can you help?
With the Baby Boomer population aging, movement professionals have to become more prepared to meet the needs of older adults. And while it may be tempting to think seniors need less when it comes to program development, clients of advanced age actually need more.
It’s not enough to modify the intensity or safety of their fitness programs. It’s also essential to understand how the mindset that older clients bring to a session—in this case a fear of falling—can influence their exercise needs.
PERMA-based fitness training can pack a positive punch for IDEA fitness professionals looking to contribute to the well-being of our fast-growing population of active older adults.
What Is PERMA?
PERMA is devoted to developing social and mental strength, which can be very helpful in motivating older exercisers. The acronym was coined by Martin Seligman, considered the father of modern positive psychology, in Flourish:
When I was a child growing up on a farm in the mostly snow-covered fields of Minnesota, I imagined a very different life: living in an airy house in a sunny climate, wearing flowing white clothes and welcoming many guests. In junior high, I wrote a paper on being a freelance writer. Today, I am a freelance writer in Southern California in a spacious home with plenty of guests (relatives from Minnesota!); and yes, I do like to wear white. Exactly how this life materialized seems to be part conscious determination, part cosmic mystery—and there you have the maddening beauty of manifesting.