Leading to life long exercise: what can group fitness participants tell us about fitness leadership?




Cameron, Kathleen Anne

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The importance of exercising within a group has been suggested to demonstrate a positive individual and group influence on exercise adherence. In addition, the important role the group fitness leader plays is integral in the development of group cohesion and individual exercise success (Turner, Rejeski, & Brawley, 1997). Bain, Wilson, and Chaikind (1989) revealed the importance of leadership style and approach on the exercising participant’s enjoyment and adherence. The purpose of this study was to gain an understanding of the lived experiences of novice, female group fitness participants and the feelings and attitudes they have about their group fitness experiences as they relate to the leadership of the class. Participants included six women, between the ages of 38-60 years currently participating in a novice, group fitness class. Participants were recruited through posters placed at the YM-YWCA of Greater Victoria and Oak Bay Recreation Centre. This ethnomethodological inquiry used interview and focus group as the data collection strategies. Analysis of the data revealed seven themes that were connected to four styles of leadership. Characteristics of the transformational style of group fitness leadership offer the participants the best support as they move from novice to advanced levels of experience. The results of this study provide a greater understanding of how to advance fitness leadership to maximize exercise adherence.