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3 FITNESS PERSONALITY TYPES How to train and communicate with each one | By Nick Tumminello


t is often said that we should give our clients “a combination of what they want and what they need.” Instead, I prefer to say training is about giving our clients “what they need to achieve what they want.” Clients need a fitness professional to communicate and provide a training approach that is in-line with what they want. An effective way to achieve this is by identifying, understanding and training according to a client’s individual fitness personality type. In their paper, “The General Causality Orientations Scale: Self-Determination in Personality in Journal of Research in Personality,” Edward Deci and Richard Ryan describe three personality types: 1. Autonomy-oriented 2. Control-oriented 3. Impersonal-oriented The strength of these personality orientations can vary in different life contexts; Elaine Rose, David Markland and Gaynor Parfitt developed


the “Exercise Causality Orientations Scale (ECOS),” that provides a series of multiple-choice questions to assess the strength of an individual’s causality orientations in the exercise domain. Since these three personality types have different modes of function in terms of human motivation and behavior, it’s crucial for fitness professionals to know how to identify each personality type, understand their current and prospective clients’ personal values and goals, and then tailor their communication and training strategy accordingly. This is because, as will be illustrated here, an approach that may excite and interest the autonomy-oriented person, would likely set up the control-oriented person for failure, and make the impersonal-oriented person want to run in other direction. Autonomy-oriented fitness personality type Autonomy-oriented individuals are those who tend to select jobs that allow greater initiative, tend to interpret their existing situations as informational, and therefore, are


more autonomy-promoting. Because they’re more intrinsically motivated rather than motivated by extrinsic rewards, they organize and regulate their actions on the basis of personal goals and interests rather than controls and constraints. They look at everything as a lesson or personal challenge that makes them smarter, stronger or more competent. In a study of cardiac-surgery patients, those who were high on the autonomy-orientation scale were found to view their surgery more as a challenge and were likelier to have more positive post-operative attitudes; whereas those low on the autonomy orientation scale viewed their surgery as a threat and had more negative post-operative attitudes. In the context of exercise and nutrition, autonomy-oriented individuals do things because they want to, and further, like to decide what they do. They don’t like anything rigid that takes away from their ability to be self-determining. They much prefer having opportunities to make decisions on what they

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Personal Fitness Professional February/March 2020  

Personal Fitness Professional February/March 2020

Personal Fitness Professional February/March 2020  

Personal Fitness Professional February/March 2020