ACE’s Training Model Incorporates Behavioral Science with Exercise Science


The American Council on Exercise’s (ACE) new training model incorporates behavioral science with exercise science, according to the San Diego-based certification company.

The model, the ACE Integrated Fitness Training (ACE IFT) Model, uses each individual’s metabolic target rather than target heart rate, and it is customized to suit the fitness goals, communication style, behavioral tendencies and personality of each client, according to ACE.

“Traditional personal training and basic traditional certifications provide information about exercise science, but what they weren’t doing was providing you anything about behavior change or developing rapport with clients,” says Pete McCall, exercise physiologist at ACE. “We realized we needed to not only create a systematic approach to exercise program design, but we needed to predicate it on how we interact or how we engage the client to change their behavior so they make exercise a regular habit. We put the behavior change component as the foundation.”

Integrating psychological and emotional concepts comes back to behavior change strategies.

“What we have found is that if we can give people behavior that they can do and achieve, that helps develop self efficacy, meaning they feel they can do it,” McCall says.

Rather than focusing first on high-intensity exercise needed to lose weight, the program first focuses on creating consistency.

“Don’t worry about how hard you do it,” McCall says. “Let’s just set a goal of 20 minutes three times per week, ultimately progressing up, but establishing that success first. If you come in and tell me that you want to do this every day and you haven’t done it before, that’s not a realistic plan.”

This type of approach prevents aggressive trainers from working clients too hard and teaches more timid trainers how to properly progress clients, McCall says.

Because the model has a systematic approach to program design that is based on science, it is easier for fitness managers to get updates from trainers about their clients’ progressions, McCall says.

ACE is sharing the program through its curriculum, blogs, textbooks, online courses (including a free introductory webinar) and live workshops.

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