American Council on Exercise by American Council on Exercise

A successful personal trainer does more than design exercise programs and teach proper movement techniques. To optimally support clients, an effective personal trainer must also be skilled in coaching people in the process of adopting and adhering to health-related behavior change, while simultaneously promoting the conditions in which motivation flourishes.

The ACE Mover Method™ is the centerpiece of ACE’s client-centered approach. This philosophy positions ACE Certified Professionals to be effective behavior-change guides for their clients. Simply put, the ACE Mover Method is a philosophy that focuses on how to effectively approach client interaction and engagement, regardless of the area of health or fitness in which you work.

Proper implementation of the ACE Mover Method is what sets ACE Certified Professionals apart in the industry. Personal training, for example, involves far more than programming sets, repetitions and exercise duration; at its core, it is about motivating clients to adopt and adhere to behavior changes that will positively impact their health, fitness and overall quality of life.

So, does the ACE Mover Method replace the behavior-change theories and principles you studied in the ACE textbooks as you prepared for your certification exam? Not at all. In fact, the ACE Mover Method is based on some of the fundamental principles of behavior change with which you may already be familiar, including positive psychology, motivational interviewing, self-determination theory and the transtheoretical model of behavior change. You’ll no doubt recognize some of their components as you learn more about the ACE Mover Method.

The ACE Mover Method is founded on the following tenets:

  • Each professional interaction is client-centered, with a recognition that clients are the foremost experts on themselves. You may be an expert on physical activity and making healthy choices, but you do not have the answers for a client if you are not being collaborative and taking each client’s expertise into account.
  • Powerful open-ended questions and active listening are utilized in every session with clients. No one likes to be told what to do. In fact, people often feel defensive and uncomfortable when they feel they’re being directed to make changes that do not align with their personal values and beliefs. When working to empower a client to make a behavior change, few things are more counterproductive than making him or her feel defensive and uncomfortable. By asking the right questions and using active listening skills, you can learn what the client values and then collaborate with him or her to develop a plan that is more likely to be effective and meaningful.
  • Clients are genuinely viewed as resourceful and capable of change. When you focus on a client’s strengths, rather than probing for deficits, it quickly becomes apparent that the client already has much of what is needed for successful behavior change. Focusing on what is “right” with the client, rather than on what is “wrong,” is an element of positive psychology that helps you and the client work together to identify the best path forward.

It is important to note that the ACE Mover Method is supported by research and is a vital element of the evidence-based practice that is the hallmark of ACE’s textbooks. Just as the exercise and programming recommendations that ACE features are based on peer-reviewed evidence, so too are the ACE Mover Method and the behavior-change theories and models on which it is based. Be sure to check out the suggested reading below to learn more.

The ACE Mover Method is about establishing a client-centered approach to working with clients that is truly empowering and personalized and based on the values, beliefs and goals of each individual with whom you work. As a health and exercise professional, what more could you ask for than clients who are succeeding on their own terms and in ways that are deeply meaningful to their personal lifestyle-change journeys?

Suggested Reading

Positive psychology

Motivational interviewing

Transtheoretical model of behavior change

Self-determination theory

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