Journal of Sustainable Social Change


Current epidemiological data reported by governing health authorities reveal the biopsychosocial complexity of health maintenance in the 21st century. As statistics reflect the insidious, worldwide impact of chronic disease and psychosocial stress, the medical domain continues to endorse multidisciplinary approaches to support the myriad systems that underpin health and well-being. With their scope of practice continually expanding to accommodate such needs, fitness professionals (FPs) have become a mainstay on the front lines of health behavior management in recent years. Beyond their role in facilitating physical health gains, contemporary FPs undertake the challenge of instilling health self-efficacy beliefs, reinforcing autonomy and independence, and reconciling the psychosocial barriers to prohealth behavior. By fostering self-efficacy, self-determination, and self-regulation as core values in clients, FPs implicitly promote competency perceptions, autonomy drives, and approach-oriented styles of coping—dynamic impacts that have significant implications for social change agency. In the following account, a theoretical framework is proposed that aligns characteristics of self-efficacy theory, self-determination theory, and self-regulation theory with the positive outcomes highlighted in Astin and Astin’s (1996) social change model for leadership development. In addition, the transtheoretical model is referenced to highlight the intention-to-action stage of the behavior-change process. The following perspectives elucidate the pervasive opportunities for reciprocal learning that are first engendered within the FP–client encounter and subsequently applied in real-world social change practices.