Champions of an Older Adult Exercise Program: Believers, Promoters, and Recruiters

J Appl Gerontol. 2018 Jun;37(6):728-744. doi: 10.1177/0733464816645921. Epub 2016 Apr 27.


Champions, who support, market, and promote programs, are a vital part of successful program adoption, implementation, and maintenance. Enhance®Fitness (EF) is an evidence-based, community-delivered group exercise program for older adults. Using semistructured phone interviews with 20 participants, 17 instructors, and 15 staff, we explored the roles of champions in adopting, implementing, and maintaining EF at YMCA-affiliated sites. Interviews revealed EF champions play critical roles in program dissemination. Champions are outgoing, passionate, and enthusiastic about EF. They believe in the program and its benefits (believers), are "walking advertisements" (promoters), and have magnetic personalities, persuading newcomers to join (recruiters). EF champions were not purposefully selected but naturally arose during the course of program delivery. Community sites adopting evidence-based programs can foster and support champions by engaging with them, and capitalizing on their energy as an emerging resource throughout the adoption, implementation, and maintenance of programs.

Keywords: adoption; champions; evidence-based; implementation and maintenance; physical exercise.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Exercise / psychology*
  • Female
  • Fitness Centers
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Health Promotion / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Mentoring
  • Middle Aged
  • Program Development
  • Qualitative Research
  • Role*