Clark Etherington, Justin Farmer, Rachel Farr, Kelsey Knight, Maryanne Topham, Nathan Woolsey "Unless You Puke, Faint or Die, Keep Going!” —Jillian Michaels, Personal Trainer on The Biggest Loser Personal Trainers: Liked or not? (“Jillian and contestant,” n.d.) Fitness Leadership ESS 2500
Background • 60% of American adults are not physically active on a consistent basis and 25% of American adults are not active at all (Jackson, 2010, p. 67). • Approximately 60-70% of adults who begin an exercise program will quit within 6-9 months (Anshel & Seipel, 2009, p. 126). • Trainers (on The Biggest Loser) emphasize the need for contestants to push beyond their perceived limits (Sender & Sullivan, 2008, p. 581). • Personal trainer services, which intentionally incorporated stage-specific interventions, might have provided greater benefit in facilitating exercise adherence (Fischer & Bryant, 2008, p. 373).
Background • Increased public interest in health and fitness has led to greater demand for personal trainers and training programs to meet the specific goals of different individuals, such as weight loss, muscle gain, physical therapy, and so on. Personal trainer courses also bring in significant revenue for fitness centers…personal trainers now provide members with the opportunity to use more than basic gym services (Chiu, Lee & Lin, 2010, p. 896). • With the standardization of training certifications and career strategies, and an increasingly educated public demanding more personalized and reliable health-and-fitness services, the occupation of personal training has become a key feature in the selling of fitness (Maguire, 2001, p. 380).
ACSM Standards • Do moderately intense cardio 30 minutes a day, five days a week Or • Do vigorously intense cardio 20 minutes a day, 3 days a week. And Do 8 to 10 strength-training exercises, with 8 to 12 repetitions of each exercise twice a week. • Moderate-intensity physical activity means working hard enough to raise your heart rate and break a sweat, yet still being able to carry on a conversation. It should be noted that to lose weight or maintain weight loss, 60 to 90 minutes of physical activity may be necessary. The 30-minute recommendation is for the average healthy adult to maintain health and reduce the risk for chronic disease. (“Physical activity and public health guidelines,” 2007)
Purpose • The purpose of the study is to examine the general perception of personal trainers, among gym members, and the effect of media on their opinions of personal trainers. (“Trainer and client with weights,” n.d.)
Research Questions • Do personal training clients feel their trainer is helping them attain ACSM fitness standards? • What is the media’s influence on the public perception of personal trainers? • What are the top reasons people do or do not have a personal trainer? • Does gym type/location influence the public perception of personal trainers—that is to say: will there be relative, recognizable response patterns per location?
Hypotheses • Personal trainers will use ACSM fitness standards to coach their clientele. As a client’s training frequency increases, fitness levels will near these standards. • The media, such as the show The Biggest Loser, has promoted the idea that a personal trainer or a fitness coach is an integral part of reaching personal fitness and weight goals. • The reasons will vary from each location in regards to the reasons why people do or do not have a personal trainer. • Public perception will differ per location. There will be recognizable patterns based on gym type.
Methods • Sample Design N=42 • Group 1 (n=21) is composed of people who have had or currently do have a personal trainer. • Group 2 (n=21) includes people who have never had a personal trainer. • Stratification into 3 types of locations: private, public, and corporate. (n=14 for each type, and n=7 per location) • Private : Treehouse Athletic Club, in Draper, UT and the University of Utah Field House in Salt Lake City, UT. • Public : Gene Fullmer Recreation Center in West Jordan, UT and Murray Park Center in Murray, UT. • Corporate: 24Hr Fitness in Sugarhouse, UT and Golds Gym in Salt Lake City, UT. • Surveys were given at various times during the week
Methods • Instrument • 11 question survey given at the different locations • Types of questions include: • Yes/no • Open ended • Multiple choice (check and circle answers) • Analysis • Excel to organize gathered data and to also make the various graphs • PowerPoint to display information • NoodleBib/NoodleTools to create citations
Can You Be The Biggest Loser Alone? (N=42) Twice as many People at the Corporate gyms believed they could become The Biggest Loser alone compared to the public and private gyms.
What is your opinion of personal trainers and what do you think they could do for you? • “Personal trainers, I believe, are there to teach and encourage. They show healthy and efficient ways to better your lifestyle. For me, a personal trainer could help me make healthy permanent positive changes to stay healthy and active.” Golds gym, has not had a personal trainer • “Motivate in circumstances where I don’t want to motivate myself. Help me achieve goals faster than I could on my own.” 24hrs Fitness, has a personal trainer • “They are the best way to keep your eye on the goal and keep motivated. Plus, the best part of a trainer is they know what exercises will be best for you personally. Trainers are the best way.” Fieldhouse, had a personal trainer • “I think personal trainers are awesome for people who are really looking to better their lifestyle. They help motivate and push you past the pain and really show you, you can be healthy.” Treehouse, had a personal trainer. • “I don’t think they are very educated—from my experience. They have minimal training & NO nutritional training.” Golds Gym, had a personal trainer • “I have educated myself regarding diet & training, I don’t believe a trainer would add anything beneficial.” Golds Gym, has not had a personal trainer • “I think some people can use them, but not everyone needs one. They can’t really do much for me.” Murray park center, has not had a personal trainer • “I think personal trainers are quite a joke—they have no real knowledge of the subject. This was the biggest waste of money ever.” Golds Gym, had a personal trainer. Positive Comments Negative Comments
Discussion • For the most part the personal trainers at the gyms followed the ACSM’s standard for physical fitness. • Those gym members that were the most highly influenced by the media attended the Corporate gyms. • The media can create a persona for personal trainers as the ultimate fitness motivator, for example “teaching clients to use affirmation statements such as ‘I can do this!’ and ‘I’ve done it before and I can do it again’ can help the client stay focused on a positive outcome of their routine” (Jackson, 2010, p. 70).
Discussion • The top three reasons for not hiring a personal trainer were: too expensive, they have no time to for one, and that personal trainers can be too intimidating. • Personal trainers are required to fulfill many different roles, including those of teacher, trainer, consultant, supervisor, supporter, nutritionist, dietician, and lifestyle management consultant. Sessions with personal trainers can be priced at US$50-60 per hour, and the quality of the service can significantly influence the reputation of fitness centers (Chiu, Lee & Lin, 2010, p. 896). • A little more than half of the people in the study circled “like” for their perception of personal trainers. On the other hand, those at Corporate gyms had the most negative outlook on personal trainers.
Conclusion • Despite the various reasons to not have a personal trainers, the majority of the people surveyed had either a neutral or positive feeling towards personal trainers. • Personal trainers for the most part vary across the board in gym type and location in meeting the ACSM’s Fitness Standards.
Directions for Future Research Limitations • More research in any aspect of personal training • Does age affect hiring a personal trainer? • Do men or women hire personal trainers more? Do they hire a specific gender more often? • Does being a certified trainer really make a difference? • Does income influence having a personal trainer? • Convenient Sample • Small Sample Size • Location Restrictions • Limited Geographical Area (Salt Lake Valley) • Assumed Honesty • Possible Error in: • Data Collection • Data Entry • Data Analysis
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