There are many reasons why people choose to exercise, become healthier, or try their hand at bodybuilding. As a personal trainer or fitness specialist, it is helpful to have a grasp on some of the personality theories best fit your clients so that you can target your motivation specifically at what drives them the most. While the three example theories that are discussed below, in my opinion, are the most common, it is certainly worth noting that there are many other theories regarding personality. Having a basic grasp on the fundamental personality theories will not only make you a better trainer, but assist you in maintaining your client base by motivating your clients in the manner that best suits them.
'I want to look better, and so long as I don't indulge myself, I should do OK.'
Freud founded psychoanalytic theory based on psychology, which Freud help found, and analysis, which is listening to what an individual says. Psychoanalytic theory tells us that we all have unconscious influences and drives, which essentially control our urges, thoughts and actions. In essence, there is a large portion of ourselves that we are not aware of, yet they drive us to do what we do. These influences can be summarised as the Id. The Id is basically the 'pleasure principle' that is common to every individual that just wants to satisfy their urges and needs. As we grow and begin to interact with the world around us, we develop what is called the Ego, which can be said to be the 'reality principle', recognizing that you can't always get what you want straight away. The Ego though has to balance against another force that develops, which is called the Super Ego, which could be called your 'moral conscience'.
In summary, Freud believes that an individual's primary driving force is to please themselves, but at the same time are being judged and reined in by their own through process based on their past experiences, their relationships, and the way that they were raised.
Ericson, a student of Freud, went on to argue that personality is formed through 8 'crisis' in your life, which helped from your personality. These crises, which occurred at very specific times such as 'baby', 'adolescent', 'adult', and 'aging' affected your personality based on how successfully or unsuccessfully you dealt with them.
Within the fitness industry we can easily see these principles in action. Pick up any fitness magazine, look in any gym, and you'll see that we are constantly judging ourselves, often far too harshly. The mirrors in the gym speak directly to the Super Ego, providing us with hard evidence that we fall short of our expectations. The Id, on the other hand, can be seen in those that struggle to lose fat, to exercise, or to maintain a program. They are driven by a desire to please themselves, and dieting and exercise are not pleasurable experiences.