A behavioral contract is an agreement between a client and trainer that states what the client will do to reach a certain goal. They are usually mutually discussed and agreed upon points.
They assist in exercise adherence, as the client knows exactly what is expected of them. They have participated in the process of creating the steps that will lead them to that goal and are therefore more likely to complete those tasks as they are tasks they know are achievable or they would not have agreed to them. (Or that’s at least how I set them up with clients. They should be a challenge, but achievable. Afterall we want to set them up for success, then increase the challenge once they’ve achieved it. Building skill, confidence and leading them toward their overall goal.) Most of the time the contracts are signed and people are more apt to keep to a set of goals or tasks when they’ve signed their name to it. Their reputation is on the line.
I have used it from time to time. It is a ‘contract’ between the client and the trainer where the client makes a ‘pledge’ to hold up his end of the bargain and ‘do as told’ so that those lofty goals can actually turn into reality. The trainer in turn pledges to give advice to the best of his abilities.
It works very well for some people and truly helps them achieve their goals. It helps the trainer with those who just ‘talk the talk’ but not ‘walk the walk’ and then try to blame everybody outside of themselves if things are not going as they want.
But be careful who you pick for it. Some people will use it to stay stuck in their belief that they cannot do anything right.
Every person is different, and are motivated by different things. For some, a verbal promise is enough if they make it sincerely and to another person (not just to themselves). However, for others, they are motivated to ‘stick with a promise’ if it’s in writing – such as with a ‘behavioral contract.’ I say that whatever works for the particular client you’re working with – GO FOR IT! The key, ‘know your client,” and then work with them accordingly.
Behavioral contracts are a part of my health coaching business and sometimes with personal training, but not very often as personal training is much more interactive and consistent.LlL
I do however, constantly check in and communicate with my clients about their successes and goals and I will nudge and remind them when necessary