Sharing a Personal Trainer: Personal and Social Benefits of Individualized, Small-Group Training

J Strength Cond Res. 2017 Nov;31(11):3137-3145. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000001764.


Wayment, HA and McDonald, RL. Sharing a personal trainer: personal and social benefits of individualized, small-group training. J Strength Cond Res 31(11): 3137-3145, 2017-We examined a novel personal fitness training program that combines personal training principles in a small-group training environment. In a typical training session, exercisers warm-up together but receive individualized training for 50 minutes with 1-5 other adults who range in age, exercise experience, and goals for participation. Study participants were 98 regularly exercising adult members of a fitness studio in the southwestern United States (64 women and 32 men), aged 19-78 years (mean, 46.52 years; SD = 14.15). Average membership time was 2 years (range, 1-75 months; mean, 23.54 months; SD = 20.10). In collaboration with the program directors, we developed a scale to assess satisfaction with key features of this unique training program. Participants completed an online survey in Fall 2015. Hypotheses were tested with a serial mediator model (model 6) using the SPSS PROCESS module. In support of the basic tenets of self-determination theory, satisfaction with small-group, individualized training supported basic psychological needs, which in turn were associated with greater autonomous exercise motivation and life satisfaction. Satisfaction with this unique training method was also associated with greater exercise self-efficacy. Autonomous exercise motivation was associated with both exercise self-efficacy and greater self-reported health and energy. Discussion focuses on why exercise programs that foster a sense of social belonging (in addition to motivation and efficacy) may be helpful for successful adherence to an exercise program.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Exercise / psychology*
  • Female
  • Group Processes*
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation
  • Personal Autonomy
  • Personal Satisfaction*
  • Self Efficacy
  • Social Support
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult