Personal trainers are often focused on helping their clients reach physical goals, such as losing weight or increasing strength. However, the most effective aspect of training a client is often overlooked — teaching behavior change to their clients.
Without behavior change strategies, your clients will inevitably fall back into old habits, and the chances of success plummet. The best program and meal plan will do nothing for your clients if they don’t know how to practically incorporate new habits into their daily lives.
Behavior change is an important part of any successful fitness journey, and it involves more than just following a diet or exercise plan. It requires understanding how behaviors develop and change over time, and how to motivate people to make lasting changes in their habits.
By utilizing behavior change models and strategies, personal trainers can help their clients achieve long-term success with their health and fitness goals.
The Transtheoretical Model of Behavior Change
Behavioral change is not always easy; it requires commitment, effort, and understanding from both the trainer and the client.
The precontemplation stage is when people are not yet aware of the negative behavior they need to change; this is followed by the contemplation stage where people start to consider making a change.
Then comes preparation for action, followed by action itself — which includes implementing new behaviors — then maintenance of those behaviors until they become habits. Finally there's termination of old habits that no longer serve the individual's goals.
Personal trainers must be aware of these stages of behavior change in order to effectively guide their clients through them.
They should also understand why behavior change can be so difficult; barriers such as lack of motivation or resources can impede progress even when someone has good intentions.
To help overcome these obstacles, personal trainers should focus on providing support and guidance throughout each step of the process while also recognizing successes along the way.
By taking into account all aspects of behavior change — from understanding how it works to motivating clients — personal trainers can ensure that their clients reach their long-term health and fitness goals successfully.
What Practically Can You Do?
You can help your clients make lasting behavior changes by following a few practical steps.
First, they should assess the client's readiness to change and identify any potential barriers. This will help them develop an effective plan that takes into account the client's individual needs and circumstances.
Second, they should use evidence-based strategies such as goal setting, self-monitoring, and problem solving to support the client in making behavior changes.
Third, they should provide ongoing feedback and support throughout the process to ensure that progress is being made.
Finally, they should use motivational interviewing techniques to encourage clients to stay on track with their goals. By taking these steps, personal trainers can help their clients make meaningful behavior changes that will have a positive impact on their health and wellbeing.
Let’s get into some examples.
Sarah comes to the gym each week eager to make progress towards her goal of losing weight. Her personal trainer, John, has been helping her with exercising and nutrition but knows that she needs guidance in making lifestyle changes as well.
To help Sarah with behavior change, John starts by discussing what motivates her and helps her identify any potential barriers that could impede her progress. He then works with her to set concrete goals and give her actionable steps for making long-term changes in her habits.
Throughout the process, he encourages Sarah with regular check-ins and provides feedback on the progress she is making to help keep her motivated. With this support and guidance, Sarah is able to make meaningful changes in her behaviors that result in lasting results for both her physical health and mental wellbeing.
Regular Fitness Routine
Ricardo was told by his doctor that he needed to increase movement in his life. His lack of exercise was costing him dearly in terms of blood pressure, and he was pre-diabetic.
He tried for weeks to start walking, but he just couldn’t find ways to make exercise fit into his lifestyle. It wasn’t for want of trying, there were just too many things for him to figure out. For those not used to exercise, it’s often the surrounding issues that get in the way.
Ricardo sought the assistance of Emily, a personal trainer, and was able to talk through his lack of progress.
By listening to his needs, she discovered that Ricardo needed a plan for having his fitness clothes ready, and a block of time to shower and get ready for work.
Unfortunately, this didn’t produce results. So, Emily and Ricardo discussed the issue more and discovered that Ricardo absolutely hated exercising in the morning. He felt out of sorts and his stomach was never quite ready for exercise.
They tried switching his daily walk to the evening when he got home from work. She also emailed him to check in on his progress and offer encouragement. With this modification, Ricardo was able to overcome this challenge and start getting daily exercise in addition to his regular sessions.
If you would like to know more about behavior change and how you can make a difference in your clients lives, check out this course for free!