While researchers have suggested that the social context in exercise settings is linked to individuals’ physical activity motivation and potential exercise-related outcomes, few research designs have examined the nuance of those relationships. Moreover, interventions targeting the social context of exercise settings are sparse, so the potential impact of staff training on members’ motivation to exercise are not well known. Drawing from two major motivation theories, achievement goal perspective theory and self-determination theory, this study considered an intervention with fitness center staff from the members’ perspectives. Members completed a survey before and after an intervention designed to help staff create a high caring, task-involving, and low ego-involving motivational climate. Using a half-longitudinal structural equation model, participants’ perceptions of the motivational climate, basic psychological needs, exercise motivation, and exercise experiences (including commitment to exercise, life satisfaction, body image) were modeled pre-post intervention. The model revealed significant latent mean differences for post-intervention constructs, with participants experiencing a more positive motivational climate, higher competence and relatedness, intrinsic motivation, commitment, life satisfaction, and body image. The final mediation model demonstrated tenable fit, with perceptions of climate having significant, direct and indirect effects on commitment, life satisfaction, and body image. Our study supports that the motivational climate contributes to an optimal social context for exercise where basic psychological needs are nurtured, intrinsic motivation is fostered, and individuals experience well-being benefits, including increased life satisfaction. Further, short and targeted training meetings with fitness center staff can result in members’ perceiving a significant change in the motivational climate.
Exercise Science | Kinesiology
Brown, T. C., Fry, M. D., & Moore, E. W. G. (2017). A Motivational Climate Intervention and Exercise-Related Outcomes: A Longitudinal Perspective. Motivation Science, 3(4), 337-353. doi: 10.1037/mot0000059