Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Physical Education and Exercise Science

Major Professor

Marcus Kilpatrick, Ph.D.


Group exercise, Motivation, Adherence


Physical activity reduces the risk for disease, improves overall health, and quality of life. Group exercise classes are large contributors for meeting physical activity recommendations. Improving long-term adherence to group exercise classes is essential in order to receive health and fitness benefits. Many contributing factors affect adherence rates including the role of the instructor. The instructor has great influence over the decision to return to a group exercise class. It is important to find out what qualities and characteristics are preferred among those who take classes to increase long-term adherence. Another important factor relating to adherence is body type, appearance and attractiveness of the instructor. These factors have been influential in other areas including performance enhancement consulting, counseling, teacher ratings, and willingness to accept health advice.

However, little research has been done to determine if body type, appearance and attractiveness influence adherence to group exercise classes. Identifying if there are stereotypes associated with group exercise instructors will provide the opportunity to educate participants and improve the professional development of instructors. The purpose of this study is to determine the relationship between participants' perceptions of group exercise leaders and adherence to group exercise classes. Business cards will be distributed to participants after their exercise class, which will contain the web address to the survey. Participants will also have the opportunity to fill out a paper and pencil version of the survey if that is more convenient. The survey will be posted on Flyers with the web address will also be posted around the facilities to promote the survey.

Results showed that participants did not prefer significant differences in fatness and muscularity of the instructor nor were they related to motivation, effort, attendance, willingness to accept health information from the instructor, or perceived attractiveness. However, perceived attractiveness was related to attendance. Results also showed that participants preferred to be less fat and more muscular, similar to that of the current instructor body type, indicating that participants desired to have a physique similar to that of the instructor. Although, fatness and muscularity of the instructor were not associated with motivation or adherence to group exercise class, instructional quality was associated with these outcomes. It was found that instructional quality is more important to participants of a group exercise class than body type. Instructional quality was associated with motivation, effort, attendance, and willingness to accept health information.

This demonstrates the importance of professional development of instructors. Results from the current study support that body type of the instructor is associated less with different psychosocial outcomes than instructional quality.