It may be that high levels of exercise focus challenge new participants in a way that increases their training effectiveness but decreases their training enjoyment. Whereas highly motivated athletes may want as much exercise focus as possible, new exercisers may feel more comfortable with infrequent exercise-related interactions.
While more research needs to be conducted on this topic, we suggest that fitness instructors provide new exercise participants with moderate exercise focus. For example, two or three pertinent and positive feedback statements per training session may be sufficient to enhance clients' exercise effectiveness without altering the psychological benefits associated with self-directed physical activity.
We further recommend that the majority of focused instructor interactions address the major aspects of proper exercise performance, without being too technical during the first few weeks of training. We also believe that better results may be attained from exercise-focused comments that reinforce the participants' training efforts. Finally, we believe focused statements that do not disrupt the clients' exercise flow are probably more effective from both a physiological and psychological perspective.
Because clients are individuals, some may respond positively to high-focus exercise environments and others may not. Be sensitive to each exerciser's response to the teaching technique and do your best to instruct accordingly.
- Annesi, J. (1999). Evaluating ability to support client adherence. Fitness
Management, 15(11), 36-38, 41. Also available: http://www.fitnessworld.com.
- Annesi, J.J. (1999). Relationship between exercise professionals' behavioral
styles and clients' adherence to exercise. Perceptual and Motor Skills,
- Annesi, J. (2000). Hiring trainers who motivate clients. IDEA Fitness
Manager, 12(1), 5-7.
- Annesi, J.J. (2002). Relationship between changes in acute exercise-induced
feeling states, self-motivation, and adults' adherence to moderate
aerobic exercise. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 94, 425-439.
- Annesi, J.J. (2002). Self-motivation moderates effect of exercise-induced
feelings on adherence. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 94, 467-475.
- Annesi, J.J., Westcott, W.L., Loud, R.L., & Powers, L. (2002). Effects of
association and dissociation formats on resistance exercise-induced
emotion change and physical self-concept in older women. Manuscript
submitted for publication.
Table 1. Mean pre-training and post-training fitness scores for high exercise focus and
low exercise focus groups (71 subjects).
Association Group Dissociation Group
Variable Pre Post Change Pre Post Change
Bodyweight (lbs) 180.0 178.9 -1.1 197.0 196.1 -0.9
Percent Fat (%) 30.4 27.7 -2.7 *E 31.7 30.0 -1.7 *
Fat Weight (lbs) 56.1 50.9 -5.2 * 64.9 61.6 -3.3 *
Lean Weight (lbs) 123.8 127.8 +4.0 *E 132.2 134.4 +2.2 *
Strength (lbs) 46.0 55.0 +9.0 *E 48.2 50.6 +2.4 *
Flexibility (in) 30.1 33.4 +3.3 * 38.2 40.6 +2.4 *
Systolic BP (mmHg) 136.3 130.9 -5.4 130.4 127.7 -2.7
Dias. BP (mmHg) 76.5 68.5 -8.0 *E 73.1 74.6 +1.5
* significant within-group change (p <0.05)