Behavior Change Strategies for Starters Clients Results


Psychological approaches for right Training Corporation



Self confidence can lead to greater exercise adherence, which in turn, results in more confidence, which leads to increased exercise. Therefore, fitness professionals should try to build their clients’ confidence so they can initiate and maintain a commitment to exercise. Sources of self confidence are performance accomplishments, modeling, verbal persuasion & imagery.


Motivational Interviewing

Motivational interviewing has been defined as a collaborative person-centered form of guiding to elicit and strengthen motivation for change. The foundation of this technique is an empathetic, person centered style, emphasizing evoking and strengthening the client’s own motivation for healthy change. Motivational interviewing involves knowledge and skills in four areas:

  • Expressing empathy
  • Helping the client realize the gap between values and problematic behavior
  • Respecting the client’s resistance as being normal
  • Supporting client’s self-efficacy

The spirit of motivational interviewing can be captured in the following fitness-related principles:

  • It is client’s task, not the fitness professional’s to articulate the client’s ambivalence (exercise vs. not exercising).
  • Motivation to change is elicited from the client.
  • Readiness to change is not a client trait, but rather a fluctuating product of interpersonal interaction (the fitness professional might be assuming a greater readiness for change than is the case).


Autonomy-Supportive Coaching

The autonomy-supportive style of coaching focuses on creating an environment that emphasizes self-improvement, rather than beating others. Fitness professionals can support their client’s autonomy by:

  • Providing choices within limits
  • Offering rationales for activity structures
  • Recognizing client’s feelings and perspectives
  • Creating opportunities for clients to demonstrate initiative
  • Avoiding overt control and criticism
  • Providing informational feedback
  • Limiting client’s ego involvement throughout their program( focus on self-improvement instead of comparing to others).

Behavior Modification Approaches

By effectively applying these tools, the client will be better equipped to make the modifications for long term behavior change. The following approaches and techniques were shown to be successful in behavior modification.


  • A prompt is a cue that initiates a behavior.
  • Prompts can be verbal, physical or symbolic.
  • A verbal prompt can be slogan or phrase that encourages the client.
  • A physical prompt might be helping someone get over a “sticking point” in an activity.
  • A symbolic prompt generally reminds a person to begin or continue a behavior, such as leaving out one’s workout gear the night before to promote physical activity.
  • The goal is to increase cues for the desired behavior and decrease cues for competing behaviors.


Written statements that outline specific behaviors and establish consequences for fulfillment (or lack thereof) are known as contracts.

  • Contracts typically specify expectation, responsibilities and contingencies for behavioral change.
  • The purpose of contracts is to help the client take action, establishing criteria for meeting goals and providing a means for clarifying consequences.
  • Contracts increase the individual’s public commitment and foster a sense of self-control.

Providing Feedback on Progress:

  • Capitalizing on individual’s inherent interest to reach certain outcomes provides periodic, positive feedback on the progress that has been made.
  • Feedback is provided with specific information on performing the behavior in question.

Cognitive-behavioral Approach

This approach focuses on ways to help someone solve current issues. Ultimately, the focus will rely upon addressing thoughts and behaviors that are detrimental to the growth of the individual.

Association and Dissociation:

  • Involve thoughts, which will eventually affect behavior.
  • Association occurs when the focus is on internal body feedback (how their muscles feel or their breathing feels).
  • Dissociation occurs when the focus is on the external environment (noticing how pretty the scenery is or listening to music while exercising).

Intrinsic Approach:

  • Emphasizes the internal enjoyment and fun of exercise, and making it something to look forward to-not just as a means to external goal such as weight loss.
  • Professionals should help clients find activities they enjoy.

Social Support:

Refers to an individual’s favorable attitude toward another person’s involvement in an exercise program


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