The Vocabulary of Client Motivation

by: J. Annesi

The VOCABULARY of Client M O T I VAT I O N Research on exercise adherence can help trainers help clients. By Jim Annesi, PhD C lients often begin using personal training services with all the enthusiasm in the world. They set ambitious schedules with you that commit large portions of time to their new fitness endeavors. They acknowledge that these efforts will be of great personal benefit. Expectations are set for your continued guidance in pursuit of formidable goals, including improved health, increased energy, a more youthful appearance, sharper physical functionality and a better mental state. You carefully tailor exercise programs to meet your clients' stated needs. And then, without warning, some of them just drop out. Many clients will exit their programs as quickly as they began. With seemingly little explanation, they cut themselves short of attaining their fitness desires. As a personal trainer, you're left wondering why certain clients could not keep at it. "How is this possible? She seemed so motivated initially. All she needed was some regularity in her program--to form the exercise habit that so many of us find enjoyable. Her goals were well within sight." IDEA PERSONAL TRAINER FEBRUARY 2000 T H E V O C A B U L A RY O F C L I E N T M OT I VAT I O N Developing the exercise habit is easy for some individuals but troublesome for most. Dropout from exercise, whether supported by personal training services or not, is unfortunately very common. In fact, 40 to 60 percent of individuals beginning new exercise programs will drop out within three to six months (Dishman 1988a; Annesi 1996). Since most personal training businesses depend on a healthy client base, and because it takes a substantial level of exercise longevity to meet most clients' expectations, incorporating techniques that reliably support adherence is the win-win formula for both clients and trainers. A considerable amount of academic literature has been developed during the past 20 years regarding exercise dropout (Dishman 1988b, 1994; Willis & Campbell 1992). Disciplines such as behavioral psychology, exercise science and exercise psychology have all contributed to examining, explaining and successfully intervening with this predicament. Unfortunately, very little on client adherence is addressed within exercise science degree programs or certification preparation classes. Directly analyzing this topic may be rather new to many personal trainers. Still, having some knowledge about adherence is essential for trainers. The intent of this article is to provide research-based suggestions you can immediately use to improve client adherence to regular exercise. They include practical methods that can easily fit into your typical session formats. Not a scientific document per se, this report is a mix of theory, research and practice--emphasis on practice-- that can help you and your clients maximize success. Within the article, the following key areas will be addressed:

IDEA Personal Trainer , Volume 2001, Issue 2

© 2000 by IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.

About the Author

J. Annesi IDEA Author/Presenter