How to Coach the New Exerciser

Personal trainer

January is a popular month for making positive health changes, including joining a gym, starting an exercise program, hiring a personal trainer or following a healthy diet. New exercisers have the best intentions to initiate behavior change; however, some go to the extreme or don't know where to begin. When this occurs, their efforts are often short-lived.

Personal trainers play an important role in helping the novice exerciser stick to his or her exercise program. Trainers provide beginner clients with the necessary tools and knowledge required to succeed with their fitness goals.

Novice exercisers require coaching strategies that differ from the traditional, everyday exerciser. The following methods, tips and guidelines will help you understand the mindset of beginning exercisers and what it takes to help them reach their goals.

Health Behavior Theories

An individual's readiness to change varies according to his or her current life situation and beliefs about the need for change. A good working knowledge of the health belief model is helpful because it enables you to better understand the motivations and mindset of the beginning exerciser.

The health belief model demonstrates that people engage in health behavior changes based on their perceived threat regarding a health issue and will weigh the pros and cons of adopting behavior change. A person's perceived threat is based upon three factors:

1. Perceived Seriousness. Some people adopt positive behavior changes because they're worried about the consequences if they don't. The more serious the consequence, the more likely one will change. For example, an individua's physician may warn that, if lifestyle habits are not changed, he or she will suffer from negative heath, such as diabetes, obesity or a heart attack.

2. Perceived Susceptibility. People are likely to change behaviors when they believe they are vulnerable or susceptible to a specific health problem. For example, if a person's father died of a heart attack, he or she will adopt behavior changes due to fears of being susceptible to a heart attack.

3. Cues to Action. Cues to actions include health fairs, brochures, books or other promotional materials that educate the consumer about the need for positive lifestyle behaviors. When a person is aware, or reminded, of a specific issue, he or she is more likely to change behaviors. For example, a person receiving a diabetes brochure from a health fair may adopt better behavior based on the received knowledge.

Ask Open-ended Questions

"Get to know the person behind personal training."

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Fitnovatives Blog — Courtesy “American Council On Exercise” (ACEfitness.org)

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