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“People don't care as much about their health as they do about their looks”: Personal trainers as intermediaries between aesthetic and health-based discourses of exercise participation and weight management

Donaghue, N. and Allen, M. (2016) “People don't care as much about their health as they do about their looks”: Personal trainers as intermediaries between aesthetic and health-based discourses of exercise participation and weight management. International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 14 (1).

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Link to Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1612197X.2015.1016086
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Abstract

Personal trainers hold an important position as intermediaries between their clients and the vast amount of available information regarding health, fitness and body weight. Research to date has largely neglected to explore how they interpret and respond to their clients' goals. This paper reports interviews with 12 Australian personal trainers to investigate how they view the goals and motivations that their clients bring to training, and explore how they view their role in working with clients towards these goals. The personal trainers reported that their clients primarily came to them with weight loss goals, which the trainers understand as being motivated by aesthetic and social concerns. The only reservations expressed by trainers about their clients' weight loss goals concerned unrealistic timeframes; there were no other concerns expressed about the advisability or achievability of weight loss goals. When prompted, the trainers did acknowledge biological differences in clients' capacity for weight loss; however, this was strongly downplayed relative to the importance of diet, exercise and “mindset”. These findings suggest that personal trainers encourage the view that weight loss is straightforward and achievable for everyone who is sufficiently motivated and self-disciplined, despite the emerging scientific literature that suggests that weight loss goals, especially when motivated by appearance concerns, may undermine sustained exercise participation and other health-enhancing practices.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Psychology and Exercise Science
Publisher: Routledge as part of the Taylor and Francis Group
Copyright: International Society of Sport Psychology
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/25589
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