Home' Fitness Australia : Spring 2017 Contents Exercisers who set process
(rather than outcome-based)
goals have significantly greater
UNDERSTANDING THE CLIENT
The first step to helping a client set goals
that they will actually want to achieve is
understanding where they are coming from
and what drives them. “ The more time you
spend at the beginning building rapport
with the client the better,” advises Lawler.
“ You want to understand what they have
tried before, because often it takes multiple
attempts for people to actually make
behaviour changes that are sustainable and
maintained.” She suggests asking the client
what physical activity goals they’ve attempted
in the past, and what worked and what didn’t
work and why, which can help you uncover
any barriers they have previously encountered
and set more targeted goals.
Often, this process will involve digging
a bit deeper to find out the client ’s true
motivational drivers for getting fit and active.
“ You can ask them to picture themselves
where they want to be and what their life
would look like, and it may be that it’s actually
about changing their relationship with
their family, or having more energy,” says
Barbara Mullan, Associate Professor at Curtin
University’s Health Psychology & Behavioural
Medicine Research Group.
GROUNDING THE BIG PICTURE
Often, a client may start out with a ‘big
picture’ goal in mind, for instance, a certain
weight loss or muscle gain target,
a clothing size they want to fit into or a
fitness challenge they want to accomplish.
While having a big, long-term goal to aspire
to is beneficial, fitness professionals should
help clients break goals down into small,
incremental steps. “People sometimes
set goals around an outcome, like ‘I want
to lose weight’ or ‘I want to get fitter’, but
that doesn’t tell you how you’re going to
achieve that goal,” says Professor Stuart
Biddle, Program Leader, Active Living and
Public Health at Victoria University’s
SETTING SMART GOALS
The SMART theory of goal setting is one that
many people are familiar with. While there are
variations to the theory, the acronym essentially
refers to goals that are Specific, Measurable,
Achievable, Relevant and Time-related.2
However, according to Dr Michael Cavanagh,
coaching and clinical psychologist and Deputy
Director of the University of Sydney’s Coaching
Psychology Unit, goals should in fact be ‘twice
as smart’. “That means they need to be specific
and stretching, measurable and monitored,
attractive and authentic, realistic and resourced
and time-trained and tracked,” he says.
1. SPECIFIC AND STRETCHING: An effective
fitness goal should be specific, rather than overly
vague or general, but it should also have some
‘stretch’ or an element of challenge in it. “Doing
something that’s too easy is unlikely to lead to as
good goal attainment,” explains Cavanagh.
2. MEASURABLE AND MONITORED: “You need
to be able to identify when a goal has been
achieved, and you need a process for monitoring
progress towards that goal,” says Cavanagh.
The process of monitoring should itself be
motivational. For instance, if a client sets a goal
to walk or run a certain distance per week, they
could plot their progress over time on a map of
Australia. Or, for every workout completed, they
could add a coloured bead to a glass jar.
3. ATTRACTIVE AND AUTHENTIC: The goal
has to relate to something that’s enjoyable (for
instance, the social element of group fitness
classes), and it needs to be authentic and fit with
the person’s values. “What we like and dislike
drives a lot of our behaviour, so find out what is
palatable to the client,” advises Biddle.
4. REALISTIC AND RESOURCED: “It has to be
within the person’s skillset to achieve, but it also
needs to be appropriately resourced, and usually
the resource that’s most important is time,” says
Cavanagh. If a client simply doesn’t have time to
achieve a certain exercise goal, it won’t happen.
5. TIME-TRAINED AND TRACKED: Goals should
have a time limit on them, and should be tracked
by the coach or fitness professional. “That’s
where you check in and ask the client ‘How are
you going with your goals? Where are you up to?
What can we improve?’,” says Cavanagh.
EXPERT REVIEWED – PSYCHOLOGY AND SOCIOLOGY
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