Because I was born to be a personal fitness trainer and take it very seriously, I have over the years accumulated many certifications and degrees in fitness and health. I’ve completed a very interesting and comprehensive certification from the National Academy of Sports Medicine (universally regarded as the one of the best certifying fitness organizations in the world) which confers the title Behavior Change Specialist to me. This is a very useful speciality to have, because it enables a fitness trainer or coach to help their clients with the process of change, goal setting, visualization, and breaking through barriers, as well as allowing the trainer (through screening methods) to understand how a client best learns, what their specific personality is and what social or cultural constructs impact their fitness and health pursuits.
Although 35% of U.S. adults are obese and 69% are overweight, and only about 20% of adults exercise the minimum required amount of 150 minutes per week, the good news is that Americans are increasing their attention to health related issues and are for the most part interested in improving their health and fitness. The big part of this is most people simply don’t know where to begin. This is where the Behavior Change Specialist comes in.
Behavioral Therapy, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy play a part in the behavior change. Thinking and talking about how and why to make changes towards one’s personal and the family’s health and lifestyle is the start. Getting together with an expert coach who can help plan, guide and set goals by being supportive and informative starts a person off in the right direction toward achieving better health. Having a supportive trainer who can listen attentively, ask the right questions, and help sort through the barriers and obstacles that we all face, is pivotal in the process of change, especially long lasting, lifetime changes. The overall process is termed guided self-help wherein a Behavior Change Specialist will sit with a new client and in a positive and supportive environment, initiate the change process and then facilitate ongoing support, consulting and coaching to sustain the change as long as necessary.
Essentially as a Behavior Change Specialist, I help clients discover, clarify and align with what they want to change, encourage client self-discovery, elicit client generated solutions and strategies to their obstacles and barriers, and hold the client responsible and accountable to their expressed goals. The Behavior Change Specialist helps their client adopt and maintain healthy behaviors in order to extend and improve the quality of their life through the utilization of scientifically proven behavior change , psychological tools, exercise programming, and nutritional advice programming, all within the scope of practice.
It is noted that the principles of behavior change do not differ from one type of population or goal to another. Setting appropriate process, performance and outcome goals for either competitive athletes or for clients just starting to make inquiry into a healthier way of life essentially involves the same set of coaching skills, communication skills and process. Much as when the professional is designing an exercise program, as the client adapts and progresses, in behavior change, when the client progresses to the next stage of change, the professional must likewise adapt the intervention plans. This approach allows for uniquely tailored process of change that is structured, systematic, progressive and grounded to sound goal setting.
The five stages of change for individuals progressing through behavioral change are:
- Pre-contemplative where they have not determined a time-frame for their goals but have expressed an interest in finding out more about healthy changes
- Contemplative wherein they are thinking that they may start a fitness and healthy living program within the next 6 months
- Preparation Stage wherein the client is planning to begin within a month
- The Action Stage wherein the client has begun a program with the support of the Behavior Change Specialist
- The Maintenance Stage wherein the client is making ongoing healthy decisions supported by the professional.
I look forward to assisting as many of you as possible with making positive healthy impactful changes in your life.