Stages of Change


Probably one of the most important traits a personal trainer can have is the ability to identify and understand a client’s individual needs and then be able to translate it into an appropriate exercise program. Some clients may have lower back pain, others diabetes. Whatever the ailment, a good trainer should be able to identify it and work to help alleviate/improve the client’s life situation. A first step to helping a client make a change involves the ability to identify what mindset or “stage of change” they are in. This is also known as the “Stages of Change” or the “Transtheoretical Model”.

The transtheoretical model (TTM), was developed by James Prochaska from the University of Rhode Island back in 1977. TTM was developed as a way to help better understand where a person is in their life in relation to helping them change a habit or repeating action, such as smoking.

There are five parts to the stages of change:

*Pre-contemplation-those not interested in taking action in the near future, at least for the next six months

*Contemplation-those that are interested in learning how to change in the next six months

*Preparation-those that are planning on taking action in the immediate future, usually within the next month

*Action-those that have made modifications in their lives within the last six months Maintenance-those that are continuing their modifications, and making sure they do not relapse, usually from 6 months after to 5 years

*Termination-those that have successfully changed and have no temptation to relapse

It is important to know what stage a potential client is at. If for example you meet someone who is in the pre-contemplation stage, using information such as facts as to why they need to lose weight if they are diabetic, is likely to not work, as they are not interested in hearing it. However, if the person is in a state of contemplation, they will be more willing to listen to what you have to say, which could help move them into a stage of preparation.

Not everyone believes in the TTM model. In fact there is little experimental evidence to show that following the model can actually help an individual. However it is good to keep in mind that when speaking with a potential client, not all of them are at the same point in life. You may have to adjust what you say to the client or you could potentially scare them away from wanting to use you as their main fitness professional. For more information on the TTM model, visit

Dimitri Onyskow is Director of Academic Relations for Educational Fitness Solutions, Inc (EFS). EFS, in partnership with the College-University Partners Network” and national organizations, has created innovative, Web-based certificate programs in Nutrition, Fitness, and Health. To learn more, visit our website:

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Author: Piyawut Sutthiruk

Losing weight will keep you healthy and have a long life. Cheer Up!

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