Affirmations are statements that can influence behavior change and fitness results. They go beyond counting repetitions and cueing form during workouts. Affirmations are an essential component of programming for mindful fitness, positive body image, and sports performance.

Here are six examples of fitness-related affirmations to start with and build upon when helping fitness clients toward goals.

1. Body Image Affirmation: I love my {insert body part}.

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Body image is an issue in the fitness industry. Not just for clients, but also for fitness professionals.

Hanna Danielson, a NFPT certified personal trainer (CPT), says, “Start by standing in front of the mirror (in as little clothing as possible) and make a list 10 of things that you love about your body. List body parts or traits that you truly do love, and then after some practice, choose to look at an area that you haven’t loved and find something loving to say about it.”

2. Strength Affirmation: I am strong enough to {insert exercise}.

This is a more specific version of the good ol’ “you can do it” chant. According to Theresa Perales, a NFPT certified personal trainer, “Some of my female clients actually believe that they can’t do things because they’re women.” Going beyond you-can-do-it will set you apart as a personal trainer and coach.

3. Small Goals Affirmation: “I did a great job of {meeting X goal this weekend}.

It’s natural for people to get stuck on what DIDN’T happen instead of recognizing what DID. Erin Nitschke, PhD and NFPT – CPT, highlights this in her article about Motivational Interviewing. Affirmations are statements that clients can say to themselves, but also for the personal trainer to use in practice when speaking to a client.

We can’t do-it-all. It’s smart to step back and acknowledge that sometimes expectations aren’t realistic and honor the small steps that were made. Help your clients remember, acknowledge and honor those small achievements. You could have clients keep a journal they share with you to get in the habit of noticing the little things.

4. Visualization Affirmation: “I am relaxed, focused and strong. My intention for this workout is….”

Athletes use guided imagery to achieve seemingly impossible goals. To an extent, we get to choose how we feel. Just like decorations set the tone for a party, you can help clients set an intention for their body that translates into action.

Emotions are energy in motion. What type of energy can you help your clients call in so they can focus and grow? Nitschke recommends, “Use your judgment and get creative. Talk to your clients about how they are feeling in a whole-person sense – not just physically.”

Some people will resonate with imagery, others won’t. The only way to know is to introduce the possibility.

5. Body Awareness Affirmation: “I inhale, fill my lungs with oxygen and nourish my body.”

NFPT-CPT and yoga instructor Alex Clearwater says, “Teaching clients how to tune into their body, recognize and analyze their body’s responses, and know when they are approaching their physical limits, will help maintain successful and safe training sessions.”

Clearwater recommends starting with breath in her article about bringing mindfulness to the gym. Getting clients to tune attention away from the mirror and physique, and IN to their bodies, has value.

Body awareness is the practice of listening to the sensations within the body. Breath is one of the most basic forms of body awareness. Show your client a picture of lungs and of a diaphragm and have them imagine these miraculous organs working.

6. Nutrition Affirmation: “This meal fuels my body with energy and re-vitalizes me”.

The funny thing about this affirmation is that it enforces the truth. A client can’t say this about a meal if it’s not somewhat true! Pausing to acknowledge the value of food and embrace the meaning of mealtime is a healthy practice to encourage everyone toward. Treat every meal like Thanksgiving, with ‘thanks’-giving.

I once heard that if you are going to eat something “unhealthy” at least think positive when you do so because the negative energy effects you. On the contrary, being stressed about eating healthy can have an impact on your health. Philosophies on nutrition are always changing.

Try this affirmation out for yourself, see how it feels, and work with it. At minimum, coach folks to take a deep breath before they take a bite.

Using affirmations can transform the results your clients get from personal training. Start with these ideas and build upon them until you find what works best for you and your clients. From here the sky is the limit, the possibilities are endless.

Do you use affirmations with clients to help them shift mindset and meet goals? If not, consider the potential impact on results if you were motivating clients through affirmations.

Learn what else do to in her blog about body image.

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