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McClaran S. R. (2003). The effectiveness of personal training on changing attitudes towards physical activity. Journal of sports science & medicine, 2(1), 10–14.

HiTONE Fitness Member Working Out During the Personal Training Session

Many health professionals include exercise programs in their programming because incorporating physical activity into as many aspects of daily living as possible can provide many physiological, psychological and social benefits. The Surgeon General’s report on physical activity, the Centers for Disease Control and the American College of Sports Medicine all stress the importance of regular and sustained bouts of moderate-intensity physical activity because it is clear that physical activity is very important to preventive disease management, wellness, and employee productivity.

More and more people seek the expertise of personal trainers in recent years. With very few previous efforts evaluating the effectiveness of the personal training experience in the scientific literature, this study utilized movement in the Stages of the Transtheoretical Model (STM) to determine the efficacy of personal training.

One hundred twenty nine volunteer participants (clients) (age range: 20 to 65 years old) were assigned a university senior personal trainer for a 10-week program.

At an initial meeting, the clients were given a form to self-assess their stage of motivational readiness for exercise adoption (STM) choosing one of five stages:

  • Pre-contemplation (not intending to make changes)

  • Contemplation (considering a change)

  • Preparation (getting ready to make a change)

  • Action (actively engaged in making a change but only for a short while)

  • Maintenance (sustaining the change over time).

After the initial assessment, the clients and trainer then met once a week and had targeted discussions on problem solving techniques such as determining the Benefits of Physical Activity, Barriers/Obstacles to Exercise, Support System Recruitment, Goal Setting and Relapse Prevention in addition to providing specific suggestions for the client’s other exercise days during the week. At the end of the 10-week personal training program, the clients then reassessed their stage of motivational readiness for exercise adoption.

Of the 129 clients tested, 27 were in the maintenance (highest) stage and therefore could not move up. None of these 27 clients moved down a stage.

Of the remaining 102 clients, there was significant (p < 0.01) upward movement at the conclusion of the program.

  • 61 clients (60%) moved up one stage

  • 13 clients (13%) moved up two stages

  • 27 clients stayed at the same stage (26%)

  • 1 (1%) moved down a stage.

The results suggest that one-on-one personal training is an effective method for changing attitudes and thereby increasing the amount of physical activity. Secondly, it seems that using problem-solving techniques is of value for successful behavior change.

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