The topic of our discussion today is behavior change, and the role personal trainers have in it. I chose this topic because a friend recently asked: “What exactly does an online personal trainer do”. My response was immediate: “we motivate, educate, and facilitate”. In essence, we help people change. But what exactly does that process look like? Can everyone benefit from a trainer? Especially an online trainer? Obviously the EBF team thinks so; but before we can show you some evidence, let’s take a moment to explain the process of change. Social psychologists have numerous theories to explain how people change. A popular one, and the one we use here at EBF is the Transtheoretical Model or Stage of Change Model by James Prochaska authored in 1977.

The model describes six discrete stages of behavior change. They are listed below:

  1. Pre-contemplation (where individuals are not interested in changing)
  2. Contemplation (where individuals are thinking of change, but have taken no action)
  3. Planning (individuals are actively intending to change, making a “plan”)
  4. Action (individuals have put their plan in motion and the daily struggle to focus and resist falling backwards is in full effect)
  5. Maintenance (individuals have reached at least one goal, and maintained their new behavior for some period of time).
  6. Termination (individuals now face no temptation for relapse and the new behavior is fully integrated into their lives).

Some of you are going through these stages right now. You may be thinking that with the pandemic, now is not the time to start an exercise plan, not the time to think about yourself (pre-contemplation). Maybe you are thinking you will start at the New Year (planning). Maybe you are already working out and everything is just fine thank you very much (action, maintenance, etc…)

What does all this have to do with personal training? Your journey to health and fitness is a journey through the stages of change. And trainers, if they are doing their job right, can help you progress from any stage until you reach maintenance and termination. And I have evidence to prove it (see what I did there). A 2008 study, by Fischer and Bryant, demonstrated that personal trainers had a positive effect on exercise adherence, decisional balance, and self-efficacy on college females as they progressed through a resistance training program. A 2016 review of 18 studies on physical activity and diet interventions using the Transtheoretical Model concluded that such interventions led to greater fat loss, increases in fruit and vegetable consumption, and increased physical activity. And lastly, a 2000 study by Mazzetti et al showed that individuals exercising under the direct supervision of a personal trainer increased their upper and lower body strength over a 12 week period.

The evidence is clear that personal trainers have a positive effect on the quality, quantity, and longevity of your fitness journey. We know when to push you, and when to hold you back (going all out every time in the gym is not a good idea, future posts will elaborate on this). We can help you resist the temptation to blow your diet, or skip a workout (or 3), we can optimize your training plan to best suit your goals, and lastly we can provide some much needed accountability.

Contact us today for a free consultation and one of our trainers will reach to you to see how we can help. Direct message or email at us:

Don’t Take My Word For It

Fischer, D. V., & Bryant, J. (2008). Effect of certified personal trainer services on stage of exercise behavior and exercise mediators in female college students. Journal of American college health: 56(4), 369–376.

 Marcus, B. H., & Simkin, L. R. (1994). The transtheoretical model: applications to exercise behavior. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 26(11), 1400–1404. 

Mazzetti, S. A., Kraemer, W. J., Volek, J. S., Duncan, N. D., Ratamess, N. A., Gómez, A. L., Newton, R. U., Häkkinen, K., & Fleck, S. J. (2000). The influence of direct supervision of resistance training on strength performance. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 32(6), 1175–1184.

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