How Online Personal Trainers Should Be Mastering and Profiting from Their Niche

How Online Personal Trainers Should Be Mastering and Profiting from Their Niche

This article was originally published at and is republished here with permission from our partners over at The PTDC. 

The call came in my sophomore year of college. It was my brother, Rodney: Our mom had suffered a massive stroke.

Mom would never be the same and neither would I. She had been a full-time nurse, part-time worrier and, sadly, a no-time exerciser—who smoked.

She’d been supporting me, so I had to leave school for a while and get a job. My story goes from sad to worse—the deaths of my brother, two sisters, a brother-in-law and my mom—but I also know that it made me who I am: An online personal trainer who helps people live healthier lives.

My story shapes my training style and my clientele to this day. I coach moms over 30; that’s my niche.

I became the solution I wish my mom might have had: a charismatic, funny coach who could’ve helped her get healthy. Someone who would have given her simple exercise routines she could handle, who wouldn’t deny her the foods she loved and who could give gentle, amusing encouragement.

I was raised by my mom, a sister 13 years older than me and my grandmother. Their lives—and deaths—are imprinted on me. They gave me the desire to help women who are overworked and overstressed, moms who put their needs on the back burner to help their families.

Your “Why” is Important

My niche is a natural result of who I am. Yours should be, too.

Now, I realize that for anyone trying to build an online coaching business, the words “niche” or “avatar” may be stress triggers.

Wait, what’s my niche? How do I find it? If I find it, how do I tell people?

Let me help. By the time you’ve finished reading this, I think you’ll be stressing less and feeling more optimistic. I’ve learned a ton that can help you. First, I’ll fill in my backstory so you can see literally where I’m coming from.

After her stroke, Mom moved in with my brother—until he had a heart attack and died. So, she moved in with my big sister, Robin, and her husband. Four years later, Robin, who was an addict, drank, drove and died instantly when her car struck a tree. Her grief-stricken husband refused dialysis and died three months later.

My mom lived two more years in an extended-care facility, 120 miles from me. I’d visit her for Thursday doughnut parties, Saturday milkshake parties and football Sundays. When I’d leave after a day with her, I’d cry like a baby every time. (More tears: My younger sister died last year, leaving behind my three beautiful nieces and handsome nephew.)

Whew. Maybe you connected with some of that. Not the details, I hope, but the emotion. I share all of this to remind you that your story is important. Don’t deprive potential clients of that. Let them tap into your humanity.

There’s an old business saying: People buy on emotion and justify with logic.

I agree, tweaking that for online fitness marketing: People hire on humanity and justify with your credentials. (Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk.)

I can hear you asking: How do I know what my niche is? 

The best direction I can give you is this: Align your work with your life.

Or, as Carolina Belmares said on our podcast The Online Trainer Show, “Your content is your life and your life is your content.”

By picking an niche that aligns with your life, your message will be authentic, and it’ll have impact and longevity. Carolina hopes to appeal to “badass moms,” maybe because she’s mother to a blended family of four kids who still gets it all done.

Take an inventory of yourself. Identify your authentic, relatable parts. That’s your guiding force—draw directly from this well. Athlete? Busy dad? Middle-aged mom? Former heavyweight? Teacher? Motivator? Comeback kid? Figure out what makes you tick and put it out there.

And remember: You don’t have to be a representative of your target niche. I’m not a mom over 30, yet that’s my clientele. The women who raised me are my guiding force. I draw from that well.

3 Smart Strategies for Marketing to Your Online Personal-training Niche

Now, let’s talk about some actionable fitness marketing strategies.

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1. Immerse Yourself in the Community

This one is easy if you’re already a member of your own niche.

An athlete who works with athletes is obviously going to understand that life, right? The rigors of practice, the chill of an ice bath, how to hone a competitive edge or come back from injury—those are all lived experiences. Your life immerses you in the community. Your authenticity comes through and speaks for itself. But what if you happen to be a 46-year-old single guy working with moms over 30? You find ways to listen.

My childhood, in that house with a big sister, mom and grandmother? Trust me, I was fully immersed and did a lot of listening back then. Even so, I’m not a 30-something mom, so I learned how social media can be a virtual master class in motherhood. Or in whatever online personal-training niche you’ve targeted. Let others inform you of the life they live.

I’m relentlessly observant and empathetic. I pay close attention to the community I serve, and you should, too.

Start by looking and listening. Curate your social-media feed. If you’re working with women, why are you only following men’s bodybuilding pages? Follow experts who work with women. Better yet, follow some of the women who need your expertise. 

Working with soccer players? You’ll probably want more of that sport in your timeline, and less about, say, the Lakers. Load your daily feed with things that help you understand your niche.

Next, learn the language. This takes concentrated listening. Join groups where your target market communicates. For example, I quickly learned from the awesome Girls Gone Strong group that “female” isn’t a cool way to say “woman.” “Female” as a noun isn’t human-specific, I was informed. When I used that word, the response was: “A female what? Oh, do you mean a woman?” Lesson learned.

It’s all learning: If I’m not willing to observe, understand, and empathize, it’s difficult to work with my demographic.

And don’t forget to ask questions. Yes, you can actually ask someone in your niche a direct question, and it can be wildly effective. It can be a general question like: “When you think about fitness and nutrition, what are some of the challenges you run into more than others?” Or it can be specific, like: “What frustrates you about doing squats?” Or “How much time can you find for exercise on a weekday?” This is solid-gold intel.

2. Make your Clients the Star of the Show

Post pictures of them (with permission, of course)—they’re your strongest selling point and most effective spokespeople. This is particularly important if you aren’t a member of the population you serve. While you may rack up likes and follows posting photos of yourself doing push-ups or hanging from a pull-up bar doing leg raises, you may also be struggling to build a roster of clients. As an Online Trainer Academy mentor, I talk to coaches around the world. You’d be shocked at how many have 10k followers but can’t get 10 clients.

When you make your clients the stars of the show, you become their champion. And they stamp your business with authenticity. So do this:

Post their pix. My Instagram feed has more posts about my clients than about me. I’m letting them get all the shine. And if I interject something, it’s usually based on what I’ve heard from them. When someone in your niche sees a post about someone who reminds them of themself, they’ll appreciate it and be encouraged. They’ll enjoy seeing someone enjoying the results of your expertise.

And they might sign up.

Team up. If you have clients who love to record their workouts, share them and talk about how you coach them. Appeal to potential clients with something specific and realistic.

If your clients are feeling cute, post their pics (with permission!) and their caption. Remember, just because you are successful with your exercise and nutrition program doesn’t prove it’ll work for others. Encourage clients to tag you in their posts and stories, and then make them the stars. Your niche will appreciate it and think of you as the solution they need when they’re ready to take action.

Keep it real. The online training world is full of preposterous promises and pictures. They’re not fooling anyone. Amber Reynolds, head of the Online Trainer Academy and a personal trainer who calls her niche group “Hot Mess Working Moms,” recently had a photo shoot in her home.

Did she clean up first? Nope—she wanted it to look real, as if a three-year-old lived there (true). No makeup or special outfit. Clients love that, thinking, “She’s like me.”

Amber Reynolds with her three-year-old son. She appeals to her niche by keeping it real and showing she’s a “Hot Mess Working Mom” too.

3. Speak Directly to Your Online Personal-Training Niche

Once you’ve immersed yourself in your target market, and you understand their language, hopes, fears and challenges, make sure you fully focus on them. Speak directly (and only) to them in all your content.

In the online space, generalized content is an absolute death sentence. There are thousands of coaches on the internet who can teach your potential client about hydration, protein, squats and mindset. But if there’s a new mom starting to exercise again, and she sees my post titled “The top 5 baby strollers for new moms who run,” she’s going to stop scrolling and start reading. A 25-year-old male athlete with no kids will ignore it, and that’s O.K. (Actually, it’s preferred.)

When you know who you’re talking to, content creation becomes so much easier. And speaking directly to your niche allows them to see you as the obvious solution to their challenges. That’s a win-win for you and the people you most want to serve. 

Your Success is Guaranteed! Enroll in the Online Trainer Academy and find your unique business recipe. The PTDC promises you’ll make $1,000 in 90 days, or they’ll give you a full refund.

Why We Need Women in Leadership

Why We Need Women in Leadership

You are looking in the mirror and the eyes staring back at you are rich with purpose and vision. You know why you woke up this morning and the world is about to experience your rested vibrance in action.

Is that how you wake up? Since there are a few steps between the bed and the mirror, I have developed some go-to rituals that enhance my ability to start each day with intention and allow me to move through the day as the woman I intend to be.

So, what does that have to do with leadership and moreover being a woman in leadership? Let’s unpack that juicy topic right here, right now.

One of my favorite thought leaders is Brene Brown, who does an exquisite job of describing leadership in a very digestible way. Here is her definition of leadership:

“[A leader is] anyone who takes responsibility for finding the potential in people and processes and has the courage to develop that potential. Leadership is not about titles or the corner office. It’s about the willingness to step up, put yourself out there and lean into courage. The world is desperate for braver leaders. It’s time for all of us to step up.”

I believe leadership is an inside job, and that the more we understand about ourselves, the more impactful we can be as leaders. It is the fundamental skill of being able to work with others to accomplish more than you could ever do on your own. We are not talking about leadership in the context of hierarchy, being the boss or telling someone what to do. No, we are talking about how to scale efforts and success because you have activated your team and are moving in one direction and winning together.

So, what are a few of the most impactful ways to lead and how does one cultivate the necessary leadership skills? While I am a continuous work in progress, here are three daily rituals that have worked well for me:

  1. Daily routine is everything. Building a life around your job or what other people want you to accomplish is a recipe for disaster. Instead, take the time to imagine what a day in your dream life might look like. For instance, you may realize that you need to wake up early enough every morning to carve out some YOU time, to journal, meditate or exercise. With that fresh perspective, you can consider your daily routine, how you get the kids to school and start your workday. Just be sure to remember that you’re the boss of your schedule—it’s not the boss of you. Acting like the CEO of your life makes it possible to more effectively support your team.
  1. Be a life- long learner. This might seem obvious, but it is easy to get off track and believe that you have reached an arrival point. Look for ways to learn from others, particularly those who are offering a fresh perspective. Do you have self-development or study time built into your day or week? Is your industry certification up to date? Have you defined an education or specialization goal for yourself?


  1. Take responsibility for the outcomes you are creating. Wake up and break out of the automations that are not serving you. No one wants to create mediocre outcomes, but sometimes we start operating on autopilot. As leaders, even if we are a one-person operation, we must ask ourselves what we can do to create a different outcome. It is ultimately up to us to change the course of our lives and the organizations we are leading. So, what are you doing to stay alert and in tune with yourself throughout the day? What tools do you have to stay out of autopilot?

Leadership is a Journey

Here are a few more questions to help you take stock of the type of leader you currently are and what changes you might need to make to be the leader you want to be.

  1. Are you ready to lead from the inside out?
  2. Are you living a life that you are proud to share with others, and approaching challenges with curiosity and compassion?
  3. Are you aware that you have blind spots?
  4. Are you open enough to your peers and loved ones to receive feedback so that you can include them in your journey of self-development?
  5. Are you modeling the kind of self-care you would advise to your best friend, loved one or child?
  6. Do you truly accept yourself and remain on a steady quest for self-knowledge?

Leadership is not a destination or the answer to the questions above. It is about sharing your journey with others. It’s about guiding the people around you toward their path so that they can do the same.

If you want to grow your leadership skills within the health and fitness industry, but aren’t sure where to start, the Women in Fitness Association (WIFA) is a place where women from all walks of life can come together to support each other. We would love to help you grow your career and help you reach your highest potential!

How to Coach Your Clients to Eat Healthier

How to Coach Your Clients to Eat Healthier

At the beginning of a coaching relationship, many clients expect that talking about nutrition means being given a meal plan or that you’ll simply tell them they should and shouldn’t eat. These types of nutrition coaching tools are limited in their usefulness and often only produce short-term results. More sustainable results can be achieved through a client-centered approach and long-term behavior changes that can be improved upon over time and integrated into their lifestyle.

Instead of estimating a client’s caloric expenditure and giving them broad guidelines about what they should be eating, begin by asking them open-ended questions about their eating habits, the role food plays in their life, and how they would like to improve their eating habits. This can help you and the client formulate a plan together that helps them develop the skills they need to sustain healthier eating habits.

Rather than helping the client look for foods to eliminate from their diet, look for habits or skills related to eating, organization and preparation that can help to shape their choices.

Plan Ahead With Grocery Lists

It is important to ask your clients about the healthy foods they enjoy and feel comfortable preparing regularly. By asking your clients these questions, you can help them create a grocery list of foods and pantry staples to keep on hand.

Initially, the client could choose to keep one or two healthy items (like apples) from the grocery list to keep on hand so that they’re available. Over time, the client can choose to purchase more of the items on their grocery list so that they gradually improve the food choices they have available on a regular basis.

With time and practice, the client can learn to use their grocery list so that they purchase more foods to better support their food choices and meal planning. This also helps reduce impulse purchases of foods that don’t support their nutrition goals.

Making more healthy food options available will help your clients shape their environment so that it supports their behavior changes. Helping them to find their own ways to scale the changes up or down to their lifestyle allows them to take charge of the process and find what works best for them.

Optimize Friction

Provide your client with suggestions for storing food at home that makes healthier choices easier and less-helpful choices more challenging. Keeping water and healthy snacks in easy-to-grab and easy-to-see containers has been shown to make it more likely that individuals will choose those options. Making preferred options easier to access is a way of shaping the environment that reduces the friction to healthier choices.

Likewise, you can ask your client how they might make unhealthy choices more challenging, thereby increasing the friction or challenge associated with less-helpful food choices. This could mean placing treats and foods that don’t align well with their goals in harder-to-reach places, or even in another space away from the kitchen entirely, like the garage.

Ask your clients questions about what changes to their environment they can make to support their nutrition goals. Reduce the barriers to healthy choices and create friction that serves to hinder less-desirable behaviors. As your client experiences success or challenges from these changes, encourage them to increase or adjust those changes as necessary so that they are able to continually improve over time.

Eating Slowly and Mindfully to Stay Full

Eating quickly and with distractions are common habits that can lead your clients to overeat without even realizing it. Slowing down and paying more attention to the foods they are consuming can help them to eat less, feel satiated longer between meals and reduce unplanned snacking throughout the day.

Help your client identify the strategies they think would work best for them to improve this eating habit. Some suggestions include putting their utensils down between bites, eliminating screen usage while eating or setting a timer to guide them with their meal.

Asking your client questions can help  them to scale their chosen strategy for slowing down and eating mindfully. Initially, they may choose to do it with only one meal each day or they may set a goal of slowing down their mealtime to a time that is still fairly quick. What is important is that they are able to be successful to start and improve their mindfulness over time.

Collaborate With Your Client for Success

Asking your clients questions about what is important to them, the nutrition changes they are ready to make and how they would like to implement those changes is an important part of creating a plan that works for them long term. This client-centered approach is at the heart of the ACE Mover Method, because it allows them to create positive, sustainable changes that are guided by their own values.

Encouraging the client to make their own decisions about the process of changing their nutrition, and what is appropriate for their current situation, empowers them to create behavior changes that will support healthy choices that lead to sustainable results.

Physical Inactivity Linked to More Adverse COVID-19 Outcomes

Physical Inactivity Linked to More Adverse COVID-19 Outcomes

A lot of the talk about preexisting conditions as they relate to COVID-19 has centered on diseases like obesity, diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and cancer, as well as on poor habits like smoking. Largely absent from this conversation has been physical inactivity.  

Recent research published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine investigated the role that physical inactivity plays in severe COVID-19 outcomes, including death, and found that being consistently inactive was a stronger risk factor than any of the aforementioned medical conditions and behaviors. In fact, the only risk factors with a stronger association with severe outcomes were advanced age and a history of organ transplant. 

Notably, while meeting the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans and WHO Guidelines on Physical Activity and Sedentary Behavior recommendation of performing 150 minutes or more of cardiorespiratory activity was associated with the most substantial benefits, those individuals performing physical activity below that threshold still had a lower risk for severe COVID-19 outcomes than those who were consistently inactive. As is typically the case, more exercise is best, but some exercise is better than none. 

A Deeper Look 

The research team wanted to explore the potential impact of physical inactivity on the severity of infection among those who contracted COVID-19, including hospital admission rates, the need for intensive care, and death. They compared these outcomes in more than 48,000 adults who caught COVID-19 between January 2020 and October 2020. 

All of these individuals had reported their level of regular physical activity on multiple occasions at outpatient clinics between March 2018 and March 2020 and were classified into three categories: 

  • Consistently inactive (0–10 minutes/week) – 15% of individuals 
  • Some activity (11–149 minutes/week) – 78% of individuals 
  • Consistently meeting physical activity guidelines (150minutes/week) – 7% of individuals 

The average age of these individuals was 47 years old and 62% were women. Their average body mass index of 31 kg/m2 classified them as obese. About half had no underlying conditions (e.g., diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease and cancer); nearly one in five had one underlying condition; and almost a third had two or more. 

Approximately 9% of the more than 48,000 individuals were admitted to the hospital, around 3% required intensive care and tragically 2% died from COVID-19.  

After taking into account potentially influential factors like race, age and underlying conditions, the researchers found that individuals who were consistently physically inactive were more than twice as likely to be admitted to a hospital, 73% more likely to require intensive care and 2.5 times more likely to die than those individuals who met physical activity guidelines. 

Importantly, those in the “some activity” category—the vast majority of individuals—were far better off than those who were consistently inactive. When compare to this group, consistently inactive individuals were 20% more likely to be admitted to the hospital, 10% more likely to require intensive care and 32% more likely to die of the disease. 


Notably, this is an observational study and therefore cannot establish cause. In addition, the researchers were relying on patients’ own assessments of their physical activity levels, and there was no measure of intensity beyond the threshold of “moderate to strenuous exercise,” such as a brisk walk.  

That said, this was a large and ethnically diverse population of people, and the finding that being consistently inactive was a stronger risk factor for severe outcomes than any of the commonly cited medical conditions and risk factors is vital to our understanding of the disease, not to mention our ability to prepare for, and respond to, future pandemics. 

The research team recommended that efforts to promote physical activity be prioritized by public health agencies and incorporated into routine medical care. Physical activity should also be included in public health safety guidelines alongside getting vaccinated, practicing social distancing, and wearing masks. By combining these behaviors, individuals will be best positioned to not only avoid catching COVID-19, but also prevent severe outcomes, including death, should they contract the disease.

6 Ways High Intensity Exercise Makes Your Brain Stronger

6 Ways High Intensity Exercise Makes Your Brain Stronger

As a time-efficient method for burning a lot of calories and enhancing muscle definition, high-intensity workouts have made the transition from the world of performance training to the programs that help clients get results. Credited with a range of benefits, including lowering cholesterol, reducing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and maintaining a healthy bodyweight, increasing evidence suggests that high-intensity exercise may also offer numerous brain-strengthening benefits as well. Here are six benefits of high-intensity exercise that may help improve cognitive function and potentially reduce one’s risk of developing diseases like Alzheimer’s or dementia.

1. High-Intensity Exercise May Help Build More Brain Cells

Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is a protein that promotes the growth of new brain cells and the formation of neuronal circuits in the brain, and is associated with both improved memory and learning ability. A review of the literature on high-intensity interval training (HIIT) found that HIIT can elevate levels of BDNF immediately after exercise and while at rest. This means that the same workouts that can help your clients get fitter might help make their brains function better as well.

2. High-Intensity Exercise May Offer More Brain Benefits Than Moderate-Intensity Exercise

High-intensity exercise has been shown to produce a greater BDNF response than moderate-intensity exercise. Schmolesky, Webb and Hansen compared the effects of the intensity and duration of exercise on BDNF levels and found that higher intensity protocols produced a greater response, reporting that “vigorous conditions had the highest proportion of subjects that experienced a significant increase in BDNF levels.” Likewise, Marquez and colleagues compared 20-minute bouts of continuous exercise at 70% of maximal work-rate to a HIIT protocol of 90% of maximal work-rate for work and recovery intervals of one minute each. They observed that “shorter bouts of high-intensity exercise are slightly more effective than continuous high-intensity exercise for elevating BDNF.”

3. High-Intensity Exercise Increases Blood Flow to the Brain

High-intensity exercise not only improves blood flow to the working muscles, but it also increases blood flow to the brain, which is important for delivering the oxygen and glucose needed for optimal performance. Plus, increasing oxygen flow to the brain can increase alertness while reducing feelings of fatigue, which could help enhance overall job performance. This means that a lunchtime HIIT workout could potentially help a client be more productive when they return to work in the afternoon.

4. Strength Training May Make You Smarter

Strength training—high-intensity or otherwise—has been shown to help increase BDNF levels. Church and colleagues compared the effects of a high-intensity strength-training program to one that focused on the volume of exercise and found that both protocols elevated BDNF. According to the study authors, “Results indicate that BDNF concentrations are increased after an acute bout of resistance exercise, regardless of training paradigm, and are further increased during a seven-week program in experienced lifters.”

5. High-Intensity Exercise Makes It Easier to Achieve a Flow State

A HIIT workout provides the right triggers, including clear goals and unambiguous feedback, to initiate something often referred to as the flow state, which can help create a positive and focused mindset that carries over into other aspects of a client’s daily life.

6. Performing High-Intensity Exercise Enhances Self-Confidence

Completing a challenging HIIT workout can help give clients the confidence to accomplish other daunting tasks. Once a client has completed a series of challenging high-intensity exercises, professional tasks such as giving a presentation or making a cold call to a potential client may seem easy by comparison. Additionally, completing a couple of HIIT workouts could help clients realize that they can exercise successfully, which is an important component for establishing self-efficacy and long-term adherence to an exercise program.

Finally, another oft-cited benefit of high-intensity exercise, particularly HIIT workouts, is that they don’t last as long as traditional workouts, which has been shown to be preferable among exercisers. Thum and colleagues compared HIIT to moderate-intensity continuous exercise and observed that HIIT may be more preferable because “individuals report greater enjoyment due to its time efficiency and constantly changing stimulus.” Ultimately, the most effective workout is the one that is completed, and a shorter workout is often more “doable” than a longer one.

To learn more about how exercise affects the brain, check out these ACE articles:

Design Exercise Programs That Promote Brain Health with the Brain Health Trainer Certification

3 Ways to Help Your Clients Get Motivated to Exercise

3 Ways to Help Your Clients Get Motivated to Exercise

The COVID-19 pandemic derailed many people’s exercise programs. If you are a health and exercise professional, you may be wondering how to reengage with clients and help them safely return to a consistent exercise program. Read on for three practical approaches to increasing exercise motivation.

1. Assess Your Client’s Stage of Readiness for Exercise

Readiness describes an individual’s state of mind and level of preparedness to take action. Stage of Readiness was first used in Prochaska & DiClemente’s (1983) Transtheoretical Model (TTM) to explain the process of smoking cessation, but the model has since been applied to other health behaviors, including physical activity. According to the TTM, individuals move through five stages of readiness when attempting to change a health behavior:  

  • Individuals in the precontemplation stage are not intending to begin an exercise program in the foreseeable future. They likely do not even see their lack of physical activity as a problem or a threat to their health or quality of life.
  • Those in the contemplation stage are still not active but plan to increase their level of physical activity in the foreseeable future and may face several barriers to starting (or restarting) an exercise program.
  • The preparation stage is characterized by mentally and physically preparing to become more active in the immediate future. Individuals in this stage may already be engaging in some physical activity but are not meeting the recommended Physical Activity Guidelines to improve health.
  • Action is the stage used to describe individuals who are performing regular physical activity and accumulating the recommended 150 minutes of moderate-intensity (e.g., fitness walking) physical activity per-week but have been doing so for less than six months .
  • Exercisers move into the maintenance stage once they have adhered to their exercise program for six consecutive months or more.  

Once you know a client’s stage of readiness, you can implement stage-appropriate strategies to increase their motivation for exercise. For example, individuals in the preparation stage may be eager to reboot their exercise program but may have valid concerns about exercising indoors with other people. Assisting the client with finding outdoor exercise resources (e.g., local parks and trails) or virtual exercise opportunities could be instrumental in helping them to get moving again.

2. Create Enjoyable Exercise Experiences

Fun, enjoyment and pleasure are positively correlated with exercise adherence. While this may seem obvious, enjoyment is perhaps one of the most overlooked—and underused—strategies in exercise adherence. Clients who are returning to exercise after spending the last year being physically inactive, may find that their exercise tolerance is not what it used to be. While they may be eager to return to their pre-pandemic levels of fitness, the focus should be on consistent and enjoyable physical activities as they return to exercise. Shorter workouts, working out to motivating music and friendly fitness challenges have all been shown to increase exercise enjoyment.

3. Use Both Extrinsic and Intrinsic Motivators

Extrinsic motivation is facilitated through the use of incentives that are external to the individual. There are a wide variety of extrinsic motivators, but their effectiveness depends on the preferences of the individual. Extrinsic motivators include both tangibles, such as awards and prizes, and intangibles such as praise. Certificates of achievement, a client or “member of the month” recognition and raffle drawings are a few examples of extrinsic motivators.

People may initially be more motivated by extrinsic factors, but intrinsic motivation, which comes from within the individual, can develop over time. While intrinsic motivation takes longer to build, it can have a greater impact on long-term exercise adherence than extrinsic motivators alone. Self-determination and perceived competence are key ingredients in developing intrinsic motivation. While self-determination cannot be taught, you can support clients in developing self-determination by helping them to set realistic health and fitness goals. Short-term goals should be behavior-focused (e.g., “I will walk on five days over the next week.”) as opposed to outcome-focused (e.g., “I want to lose 2 pounds this week”). Encouraging clients to make activity choices based on their personal preferences and interests will also help to increase self-determination.

You can help your clients develop perceived competence by creating frequent opportunities for success. When a client succeeds, provide positive feedback. The more successful they feel, the higher their perceived competence will be.