Unit of competency details

SISFFIT416A - Apply motivational psychology to provide guidance on exercise behaviour and change to meet health and fitness goals (Release 2)


Usage recommendation:
Is superseded by SISFFIT016 - Provide motivation to positively influence exercise behaviourNot Equivalent. Updated to meet Standards for Training Packages. 02/Sep/2015
Supersedes SRFFIT012B - Utilise an understanding of motivational psychology with fitness clientsN Based on SRFFIT012B but not equivalent. 06/Jun/2011

Release Status:
ReleaseRelease date
2 (this release) 28/Nov/2011
(View details for release 1) 07/Jun/2011


SchemeCodeClassification value
ASCED Module/Unit of Competency Field of Education Identifier 092103 Sports Coaching, Officiating And Instruction  

Classification history

SchemeCodeClassification valueStart dateEnd date
ASCED Module/Unit of Competency Field of Education Identifier 092103 Sports Coaching, Officiating And Instruction  18/Nov/2011 
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Modification History

Not Applicable

Unit Descriptor

This unit describes the performance outcomes, skills and knowledge required to analyse client behaviour and motivate clients to commence and adhere to a long term exercise plan.

Application of the Unit

This unit applies to those operating as exercise trainers in fitness environments such as fitness centres, gyms or autonomously in the fitness or health industry.

Licensing/Regulatory Information

No licensing, legislative, regulatory or certification requirements apply to this unit at the time of endorsement.



Employability Skills Information

This unit contains employability skills.

Elements and Performance Criteria Pre-Content

Elements and Performance Criteria



Elements describe the essential outcomes of a unit of competency.

Performance criteria describe the performance needed to demonstrate achievement of the element. Where bold italicised text is used, further information is detailed in the required skills and knowledge section and the range statement. Assessment of performance is to be consistent with the evidence guide.

1. Support clients to undertake exercise behaviour change .

1.1. Obtain information  about the client's current exercise behaviour and their attitude towards exercise to determine the stage of readiness  to make a behaviour change.

1.2. Show sensitivity to cultural and social differences .

1.3. Assess the level of motivation, commitment and confidence of the client to change attitudes, beliefs and behaviour.

1.4. Identify client's perceived barriers to exercise  and other factors that may impact negatively on the success of an exercise behaviour change.

1.5. Identify suitable strategies to motivate exercise behaviour change based on behaviour change models , processes of change , evidence based research and client characteristics.

1.6. Develop a plan for behaviour change including suggested behavioural modifications relevant to the client.

1.7. Reinforce positive beliefs and behaviours.

1.8. Emphasise short and long term benefits of regular exercise to encourage exercise behaviour change.

2. Implement strategies to improve client exercise adherence 

2.1. Demonstrate an understanding of the determinants of exercise adherence  that influence an individual's behaviour.

2.2. Identify and implement a variety of strategies suited to the client to improve exercise adherence based on personal and situational factors .

2.3. Provide guidelines for improving exercise adherence.

2.4. Implement effective goal setting  to support clients to adhere to long term exercise behaviour.

2.5. Monitor and review progress regularly to reinforce efforts.

2.6. Recognise ongoing barriers to continuation of long term exercise and provide motivational strategies as appropriate.

2.7. Assess changes in behaviour in collaboration with the client to determine the effectiveness of the strategies implemented and make appropriate adjustments.

2.8. Recognise common reasons for discontinuation of an exercise program and apply strategies to overcome setbacks.

2.9. Apply basic counselling approaches to motivate clients to increase their exercise adherence.

3. Apply a variety of motivational techniques when training clients.

3.1. Tailor motivational strategies to suit individual client psychological needs based on personal and situational factors .

3.2. Use effective verbal and nonverbal communication skills  when instructing clients to optimise motivation and performance.

3.3. Identify arousal  levels and use arousal control techniques  and apply arousal and anxiety theory  to enable the modification of client  exercise behaviour.

3.4. Provide positive reinforcement and feedback to clients to positively influence exercise behaviour.

3.5. Use personal attitudes and values to positively influence clients exercise adherence and behaviour.

3.6. Increase confidence in clients to help them cope with increased stress and anxiety.

Required Skills and Knowledge

This section describes the skills and knowledge required for this unit.

Required skills 

  • communication skills appropriate to:
  • discuss client needs,
  • negotiate strategies for behaviour change and exercise adherence
  • provide clear and accurate information about exercise behaviour.
  • problem-solving skills to:
  • analyse clients information and
  • select motivational strategies appropriate to individual client social and cultural differences, needs, barriers and other influences.
  • literacy and numeracy skills to enable the completion of questionnaires, records and other related documentation.

Required knowledge 

  • behavioural strategies to enhance exercise, health behaviour change and lifestyle modifications.
  • stages of motivational readiness and processes of change.
  • types of motivation, theory of achievement motivation and specific techniques to enhance motivation.
  • role of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation in exercise behaviour.
  • methods of evaluating self-motivation, self-efficacy and readiness for behaviour change.
  • arousal and anxiety theory, and its relationship to exercise performance, adherence and behaviour change.
  • goal setting techniques.
  • general characteristics of the main social and cultural groups in Australian society and the key aspects that relate to their cultural and religious protocols and preferences for exercise.

Evidence Guide

The evidence guide provides advice on assessment and must be read in conjunction with the performance criteria, required skills and knowledge, range statement and the Assessment Guidelines for the Training Package.

Overview of assessment 

Critical aspects for assessment and evidence required to demonstrate competency in this unit 

Evidence of the following is essential:

  • provides individualised strategies to promote a positive exercise behaviour change in clients
  • implements effectively a range of short and long term motivational strategies suited to the individual client and the exercise situation
  • utilises appropriate motivational theory in exercise situations when instructing clients
  • demonstrates effective use of verbal and non verbal aspects of communication to motivate clients
  • analyse the physical environment of a fitness venue and how that impacts on client behaviour, then adopt appropriate motivational techniques that meet the needs of the client
  • demonstrates appropriate manner, empathy and patience when working with clients embarking on a behaviour change.

Context of and specific resources for assessment 

Assessment must ensure demonstration of skills over a period of time within a facility where a variety of exercise modes and equipment are available to support exercise behaviour change.

Assessment must also ensure access to:

  • a range of clients of different ages and with different client needs
  • appropriate documentation and resources normally used in the workplace, such as organisational policies and procedures
  • demonstration of skills on sufficient occasions to determine competence in implementing a variety of motivational strategies to effect behaviour change and exercise adherence.

Method of assessment 

A range of assessment methods should be used to assess practical skills and knowledge. The following examples are appropriate for this unit:

  • observation of consulting with clients to determine personal and situational factors affecting client's exercise behaviour and attitude towards exercise, providing guidance about exercise behaviour and adherence, and implementing suitable motivational strategies when training clients
  • observation of dealing effectively with a range of contingencies such as poor performance, discontinuation of exercise and client setbacks
  • oral or written questioning to assess knowledge of the motivational psychology theory
  • third-party reports from a supervisor detailing work performance.

Holistic assessment with other units relevant to the industry sector, workplace and job role is recommended, for example:

  • SISFFIT420A Plan and deliver exercise programs to support desired body composition outcomes
  • SISFFIT421A Plan and deliver personal training

Range Statement

The range statement relates to the unit of competency as a whole. It allows for different work environments and situations that may affect performance. Bold italicised wording, if used in the performance criteria, is detailed below. Essential operating conditions that may be present with training and assessment (depending on the work situation, needs of the candidate, accessibility of the item, and local industry and regional contexts) may also be included.

Behaviour change models  may include but are not restricted to:

  • health belief model
  • transtheoretical model
  • motivational change model
  • social cognitive model
  • theory of planned behaviour
  • relapse prevention model.

Processes of change  may include:

  • cognitive processes
  • behavioural processes.

Cultural and social difficulties  may include:

  • modes of greeting, farewelling and conversation
  • body language, including use of body gestures
  • formality of language
  • clothing.

Strategies to improve exercise adherence  may include:

  • prompts
  • contracting
  • perceived choice
  • reinforcement
  • feedback
  • rewards
  • self monitoring
  • goal setting
  • social support
  • decision balance sheet
  • physical setting
  • exercise variety
  • minimised discomfort and injury
  • group training
  • enjoyment
  • periodic fitness and health assessment
  • progress charts.

Determinants of exercise adherence  may include:

  • personal factors:
  • demographic variables
  • cognitive variables
  • personality variables
  • behaviours
  • cultural
  • environmental factors:
  • social environment
  • physical environment
  • physical activity characteristics:
  • exercise intensity and duration
  • group vs. individual activity
  • type
  • instructor or trainer qualities.

Barriers to exercise  may include:

  • lack of time
  • lack of energy
  • lack of motivation
  • excessive cost
  • illness or injury
  • feeling uncomfortable
  • lack of skill
  • fear of injury
  • fear of safety
  • lack of child care
  • insufficient access
  • lack of support
  • lack of transportation.

Basic counselling approaches  may include:

  • active listening
  • body language
  • tone
  • asking questions
  • paraphrasing
  • summarising
  • note taking.

Information about client's attitude towards exercise  may include:

  • client expectations
  • coping techniques
  • defence mechanisms
  • belief systems and values
  • social support systems
  • stage of readiness for change.

Stage of readiness for change  may include:

  • precontemplation
  • contemplation
  • preparation
  • action
  • maintenance
  • relapse.

Goal setting  may include:

  • short, medium and long terms goals
  • SMART goals
  • specific
  • measurable
  • achievable
  • realistic
  • time appropriate
  • outcome, process and performance goals
  • goal achievement strategies
  • goal support
  • evaluation and feedback
  • recording goals
  • linked to personality and motivation.

Arousal and anxiety theory  may include:

  • drive theory
  • inverted 'u' hypothesis
  • individual zones of optimal functioning
  • catastrophic model
  • multidimensional anxiety theory
  • reversal theory.

Arousal control techniques  may include:

  • anxiety management
  • progressive relaxation
  • stress management
  • visualisation
  • self talk.

Components of motivation  may include:

  • direction of effort
  • intensity of effort
  • persistence of behaviour.

Verbal communication  may include:

  • voice
  • inflection
  • emphasis
  • fluency
  • tone
  • tempo
  • resonance.

Non verbal communication  may include:

  • body language
  • movement
  • facial expression
  • eye contact
  • gestures
  • posture
  • sign language
  • touching.

Behaviour change  may include:

  • changes to exercise behaviour
  • changes to dietary intake
  • lifestyles changes.

Personal and situational factors  may include:

  • personality
  • self concept
  • habits
  • lifestyle
  • family situation.

Unit Sector(s)


Competency Field