Lots of people hire personal trainers or join group fitness classes hoping to lose weight. Yet many fail to meet their goals. New research suggests that “progress bias”—overestimating progress and underestimating setbacks—may be one reason your clients don’t succeed.
The ongoing and stubborn health epidemic in the United States, combined with healthcare reform and a growing body of behavior change research, has sparked a revolution. It has become clear that “expert advice” does not translate into behavior change for people who are not ready to change. After all, despite doctors’ orders, nearly a third of prescriptions are left unfilled (Tamblyn et al. 2014). Despite federal dietary guidelines, the average American’s food intake lines up with MyPlate recommendations on only 2% of days (NPD Group 2011).
Why is it that athletes and fitness enthusiasts with the same physical
strength, technical skills, equipment and nutrition perform differently
and achieve different results? When all else is equal, top performers
have a specifically designed mindset that allows them to show up when
they’d rather not, endure intense training, rest when needed, cope with
enormous pressure, and commit 100% to giving every ounce of effort they
Working with a group of teen athletes can be a frustrating experience—but it doesn’t have to be. Justin Russ, CSCS, a strength and conditioning coach at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, offers his top insights on successful team training:
Set the tone. Establish expectations and procedures early. Be sure the teens are aware that you are the coach and they are the athletes, and their job is to listen to what you say.
Fitness professionals expend considerable energy helping people to lose weight, but there’s another way to view this challenge: What are the main factors that cause people to gain weight??
Research shows that two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese (Ogden et al. 2014), a health condition associated with hypertension, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression and various cancers (breast, endometrial, colon and prostate) (Malik, Schultz
Youth are flocking to fitness classes as parents face concerns over inactivity, obesity, sports injuries and performance. Instructors are learning to cater to the vast needs of this market, and it can be difficult to create a safe environment where all children can participate, get results and have a good time. While challenges will always exist in group classes, some simple strategies, particularly during the first few minutes, can turn frustration into fun.
Engagement and Physical Literacy
Keeping clients motivated can be a challenge. Fitness professionals know it is often easier if a client’s partner is also making fitness and health improvements. New research backs this up.
In certain circumstances—for example, when preparing for an endurance event—pacing is a necessary component of safe training. But some protocols may call for the opposite, requiring clients to generate as much strength or power as possible for a shorter period of time. Researchers believe they’ve developed a tool to help females give more during the workout.
It’s 11:00 pm and cold outside. Mary taps her wrist and sees she is 1,000 steps short of her daily goal. For the last month she has been diligent about hitting her daily activity target. Even though her knee hurts and her body feels drained, she puts on warm clothes and goes for a late-night stroll around her neighborhood.
You know them well: your obese clients who have tried everything: weight-loss meal programs, fat-burner pills, crash diets, gym memberships; nothing worked for very long. When they turned up at your door, low self-efficacy was all they had to show for their sincere efforts to change.
Do you work with college students? Perhaps adding “nudges” to your training toolbox can improve their health habits.
Inspired by fear. Kerry was afraid when she first reached out to personal trainer Sue D’Alonzo in March 2013. The lim itations Kerry’s body presented from carrying excess weight had become more severe. She feared these limitations would make it increasingly difficult for her to keep up with her young son, and she worried that trying to do so might result in injury. Kerry also dealt with nagging hip pain. Although Kerry expressed these concerns to her physician, she was never advised to lose weight. Eventually, Kerry turned to D’Alonzo for help.
Do your clients struggle to stay motivated during exercise sessions? New research has presented a technique that just might help.
Called “attention narrowing,” the technique involves keeping visual focus on a specific target, such as a finish line, instead of taking in all the sights along the way. This may not seem novel—athletes often “keep their eyes on the prize” during competition— but researchers who recently studied this topic believe that visual focusing can help everyday exercisers stay on track as well.
Do you know what really motivates people to exercise? Recently, researchers from the department of applied human sciences at
Concordia University in Montreal asked people from different age groups what pushed them to pump iron.
The scientists studied questionnaires from 1,885 people ranging in age from teenagers to 50 and older. The questionnaires, covering a variety of areas, including “personal style, activity interests, motives for exercising, and biosocial information,” were completed on touchscreens located in eight branches of the YMCA in Montreal.
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.
We all know this client’s story: Mary is a 40-plus, career-oriented woman with two kids and with 40 extra pounds she’d like to lose. Mary knows how to overcome her obesity—at least temporarily. She’s done…
Exercising is a good idea if you want to live a long life. You know that. But have you wondered just how many years you might gain by heading out for a brisk walk?
Leisure-time physical activity is generally considered any exercise, sports or recreational activity that is not job related, is not a household chore and is not fulfilling a regular transportation need. This study provides fresh evidence that leisure-time physical activity can positively impact heart health and longevity.
Successful personal trainers are essentially effective teachers. While personal training in part involves changing the body, teaching is the art of changing the brain—not physically rewiring it, but arranging information and experiences to stimulate learning. Learning involves a change in behavior and alters thinking and perception. Personal trainers must have strong core knowledge of biomechanics, program design, exercise science, behavioral science, nutrition and weight management principles in order to stimulate change in clients and lead them to desired results.
Now you’re exercising again, and it feels great. Of course, it felt great last year, too, when you went to the gym every morning for almost the entire winter! If it feels so great, why do you keep quitting? You may be able to make your physical activity more consistent by using some of these tricks.
1. Start Looking at Exercise Differently. This is the big one, from m…