Physical activity promotion has traditionally centered on weight loss, contributing to harmful practices and missed opportunities to do good. This study emphasizes the multifaceted benefits of physical activity beyond weight loss. The objective is to provide evidence for a growth-focused approach that will hopefully encourage more successful referral networks between clinical practice and health fitness professionals.
Qualitative data were gathered through questionnaires from participants in 1:1 personal training and fitness classes. Questions included intended goals of participation, what they were able to accomplish, what aspects were most enjoyable and provided the greatest benefit, what may have exceeded their expectations, a single word to describe the experience, feedback about the instructor, and what they would tell someone who is considering participation.
Qualitative findings revealed that participants responded positively to the growth-focused approach, expressing increased enjoyment and adherence to sustain physical activities. Social connections formed during group activities emerged as significant contributors to sustained engagement, along with the instructor’s support and structure throughout the process. Data showed improvements in overall mental well-being, reductions in stress levels, increased fitness knowledge, self-efficacy, adherence, strength, conditioning, and mobility.
This study advocates for a shift in physical activity promotion, moving away from a weight-centric model towards a growth-focused approach. The positive reception and sustained engagement observed among participants suggest that emphasizing well-being, mental health, social connections, and overall growth can be effective in encouraging regular physical activity. This approach has the potential to contribute to a more positive and sustainable health and fitness culture. Future interventions and public health campaigns should encourage continued collaboration between clinical practice and health fitness professionals.