The Transtheoretical Model of Behaviour Change: What is it and Where areyou at on your Fitness Journey?
In order to see a change in ourselves, we have to change our behaviour. Many of us
know this, but it’s especially important to think about what kind of changes you’re
willing to make in order to become a healthier, fitter you.
One of the ways personal trainers figure this out is by turning to the
Transtheoretical Model of Behaviour Change, AKA the Stages of Change Model.
That’s a mouthful, but what does it mean? Essentially, we are all at some stage on
our fitness journey and based on that stage, we train you differently. A person who
hasn’t stepped foot in a gym in ten years wouldn’t be given the same workout as
someone who goes to the gym regularly. As trainers, this helps us guide you on your
journey and get you to the next stage.
So, where are you at? Let’s find out:
Stage 1: Precontemplation
Everyone knows someone at this stage; you started here, too! They aren’t thinking
about starting to exercise and they likely don’t see the need to make any lifestyle
changes. Instead of focusing on how hard it can be to make changes, it’s important to
ask this question: “If I make this change and be active, what would my life be like?”
If you’re at this stage right now, maybe this means having more energy to play with
your kids; running that half-marathon; or enjoying the outdoors more. Whatever it
is, the advantages of a healthy lifestyle always outweigh the consequences of
sticking to your old habits.
Stage 2: Contemplation
You’re thinking about changing your behaviour, but you’re not quite ready yet. You
know going for that walk and having carrots is better than your normal unhealthy
routine, but change can be scary. We all need that extra push to get over the bumps
on the road.
Think about this: what kind of person will I be if I make these changes? Write down
these advantages. Put them up where you can see them. Remind yourself that you
can become this person with one healthy choice at a time.
Stage 3: Preparation
You’re ready. You’ve signed up for a workout program, the healthy groceries are in
the fridge, and you told your mom. At this stage, it’s important you have your
friends’ and family’s support. Instead of going to a movie, maybe they join you on a
walk around the lake. Perhaps they leave dessert off the menu.
There will be challenges along the way, but keep this in mind: the better prepared
you are, the less likely you are to turn to bad habits.
Stage 4: Action
It’s been over a month since you started working out and eating healthier. You’re
still sore after exercising, but every workout gets a little easier. Meal prepping is
becoming the norm, but some days are a struggle.
At this stage, you need to keep working hard to avoid slip-ups and stay on track. As
trainers, we’ll check in with you often and discuss your goals. Are we getting closer
to them? What can we do to make sure when the weekend rolls around, we don’t
lose control? You’ve come so far already; we want to keep that momentum going!
Stage 5: Maintenance
This is the “final” stage in our model, but if you’re at this stage, you know
maintaining your healthy lifestyle is an ongoing process.
When you reach this stage, it’s a good time to look at and revise your goals and
exercise program. What can we adjust to really challenge you? What are some new
fitness goals we can set, now that you’ve crushed the others?
It’s important to have a good support system, not just your family but people on a
similar fitness journey. At LMF, we’re blessed with wonderful clients who encourage
each other, no matter what stage you’re at. Finding a community like this is
Now that you know the stages, where are you at on your journey? Where do you
want to see yourself in a month, six months, a year? And what are you willing to
change to get there?
Dear God, what have I done?
There I was, sitting in a room with other hopeful personal trainers and feeling
completely out of place. How had I convinced myself I could do this? I didn’t know
the first thing about personal training. My anatomy knowledge was non-existent.
The only thing I had going for me was a gut instinct telling me I needed to be in that
room. If I wanted to change other peoples’ lives like my trainer had changed mine, I
needed the skills.
My heart and brain were questioning how fast they could get me out the door, but
my gut was persistent. It knew the three years spent obsessively watching Krista as
she trained me was more than just about trying to get the exercises right.
My personal training journey started with a conversation after a sweaty workout
and led me to a three-day weekend course that crammed my brain to bursting. We
covered everything from energy systems to anatomy to program design to
marketing ourselves as trainers and everything in between. I was overwhelmed by
how much I didn’t know, but I wasn’t the only one who felt that way.
Over those three days, what surprised me the most was how much I actually did
know. All those classes spent honing a certain lift or improving my push up had
given me some of the tools I needed to not only explain but also effectively
demonstrate an exercise. This has only improved as I now watch Krista not only as a
client but also as a fellow trainer. I listen to how she words certain cues and how
clients respond to it.
My learning didn’t stop after that weekend course. It was just a springboard that
launched me into several weeks of intense study. I made flash cards, reviewed the
study guide, answered the chapter review questions, and read chapter after chapter
in the textbook.
When my theory exam came around, I didn’t feel ready, but looking back, I’m not
sure I ever would have felt ready. One of the things I’ve learned with being a
personal trainer is you never stop learning. I could have poured over that textbook
for another two weeks and still pulled gold nuggets from it.
Despite my lack of confidence, I did indeed pass the theory exam. One hurdle
jumped, another on the horizon. The practical exam meant putting into practice
what I had learned through the course and what Krista had been teaching me for
Designing a program and filling out a periodization card were daunting tasks. I
almost let the mere thought of them overwhelm me. I was able to pull myself
together and design a program that suited “Maria” nicely.
On the day of the practical, my heart was racing once again. A friend from the gym
was to be my “Maria” and although I was nervous, I wanted to make her – and Krista
It’s intimidating being put on the spot to demonstrate and explain a selection of
exercises. It felt different than helping someone during a workout, yet despite that
odd feeling, I can proudly say I passed and am a certified Personal Training
Specialist. But I’m not slowing down now. There are so many questions I have to
answer about myself: what kind of trainer do I want to be? Do I want to own my
own business someday? How will I market myself?
I don’t have all the answers yet, but I’m taking it one step at a time. I have an
amazing mentor to guide me. Personal training has given me the freedom to expand
and grow. It’s putting me on the spot and forcing me to get comfortable being a
Three years ago, I never imagined I’d be here today. Now, I can’t imagine being
When you start your fitness journey, you probably have some goals in mind.
Perhaps you want to lose 20 pounds, gain muscle, feel less stressed, have more
energy – or all of the above! Those are great goals, but how are you going to
accomplish them? That’s where your trainer comes in.
Together, you will sit down and go over what you want to accomplish during your
training sessions. We use the acronym SMART/ERS goals to help figure out what’s
really important to you fitness-wise. But what does SMART mean, exactly?
Specific: is your goal specific? You want to lose weight? Great! Let’s break that down
further. Do you want to lose 30 pounds in three months? One to two pounds per
week? We need to dig down deep and find out what exactly you want to accomplish.
Measurable: how are we going to track your goals? If it’s losing weight, we would
use a scale and tap measurer. If you want to have more energy, that’s not as easy to
track, but it can be done! Can you play longer with your kids? Do you find taking the
stairs at work way easier? Those may be good ways for you to gage your energy
Attainable: can you actually do this? If you’re eating healthy and doing your
workouts, then yes! If you are willing to do the action and put in the effort, there’s
nothing stopping you from achieving your goals.
Realistic: are your goals achievable, or are you maybe shooting for the stars? It’s
great to want to lose 50 pounds and run a marathon, but doing that in two months?
Probably not going to happen. Don’t set yourself up for failure! Make goals that you
can accomplish and then celebrate the heck out of that.
Time sensitive: what are your long-term and short-term goals? We also need to
think about how much time/how many days per week can you commit to working
out. If you’re running kids around to sports and work five days a week, committing
to working out five days a week probably isn’t doable, unless you’re willing to make
Diving deeper into this acronym, what does the ERS stand for? These will become
more relevant when you reach the maintenance stage of the Transtheorectical
Model of Behaviour Change, but it’s good to know what they mean.
Evaluate: throughout your program, you and your trainer will track your progress to
see how close you are to your goals. Where have you really excelled, and what areas
do we need to focus more on? This is the time to figure that out!
Realign: after we evaluate your progress, it’s time to make any modifications to get
you closer to your goals in a timely fashion. We want to address any roadblocks so
we can get you to your ultimate goal.
Success: the time has come; you’ve reached your goals. Celebrate that! And while
you’re eating a clean dessert, think about what you want to accomplish in the next
few months. Train for a summer marathon? Build up stamina to go mountain
biking? Lift half your body weight? Whatever it is, talk to your trainer and let’s make
it a SMART goal!
Having something to work towards is a great motivator for getting fit. Your trainer
will be with you every step of the way, guiding you towards success, but be ready to
put in the work to make it happen!
Get your name out there: How to market yourself as a Personal Trainer
You passed your theory exam, you aced the practical, it’s official: you’re a certified
personal trainer! Now the real work begins.
It’s not enough to have the certification if no one knows who you are or what you do.
That’s where marketing comes in. During your training, you’ll remember a system
used by canfitpro called the “4 Ps of Marketing.” We’re going to dive in deeper to
each area and explain how you can use these principles to your advantage.
Product: As odd as it sounds, in the world of personal training, you are the product.
When looking at yourself as a product, you need to understand these three factors:
differentiation, development, and positioning.
Differentiation means separating yourself from other personal trainers and making
yourself unique. Perhaps you offer a specific workout program that no one else in
the area provides. Maybe you cater to early risers. Whatever it is, use it to sell your
When developing your programs, make sure you’re constantly looking for new ways
to add to your workouts. The key is to keep learning. Whether it’s learning how to
teach kettlebell kickboxing or getting more nutrition training, make sure to stay up
to date on what’s going on in the fitness industry and ask your current clients what
they want to see more of. It will help draw others in.
Positioning means the perception people have about you and your business. What
image are they left with of you as a trainer? What message do you want to send to
Price: setting prices for your services, especially when you’re just starting out, is
challenging. There are many ways you can price your sessions, but make sure you’re
considering a few factors first.
Your pricing will vary based on your geographic location, your experience and
education, and the number of other personal trainers in the area. You can often
charge more if you’re in an area where there are mot many other personal trainers,
you are highly educated, and there are a number of people who are seeking your
Everyone is different and will have an idea of what they want to charge, but be
prepared to make changes to your pricing structure. Nothing is set in stone and it
can take time to figure out what works for you and your business.
Promotions: there’s a long list of ways you can promote yourself and your business.
These are the most popular:
population, but it’s easier to reach more potential clients by using social media.
Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter offer a large platform to spread the word about
your business, and anyone can use these programs. Facebook and Instagram are
especially popular in Canada.
Networking, even at a family dinner, is also useful. We’re not suggesting you go on a
fifteen minute tangent about why your Aunt Betty needs to be your client, but if
Uncle Ralph asks what you’re up to these days, saying you’re a personal trainer
building your business is a good idea. Plus, even if Grandma Rose doesn’t want to
start exercising, perhaps she has a friend from her sewing club who does. Word of
mouth is so effective!
Place: where, exactly, is your business? Do you go to people’s homes? Do you work
out of a fitness studio? Do you own your own personal fitness studio? Where you are
located will play a major role in your initial success or failure as a personal trainer.
Keep these factors in mind when choosing where to run your business: traffic flow,
parking, signage, perception of the neighbourhood, and future potential for
Once you have a loyal group of clients, location becomes less of a factor. But you
have to get those clients first!
Putting yourself out there can be overwhelming, but if you’re going to help people
start their journey to becoming a happier, healthier person, you need to get your
name out there.