Associations among instructor behaviors, psychological need satisfaction, motivation, and participation in group exercise classes

Julia Lohmann1, Meghan McDonough2, Jennifer Breithecker3, Christina Rogler3, Hans-Peter Brandl-Bredenbeck3 and Petra Gieß-Stüber1

1 Institute of Sport und Sport Science, Albert-Ludwigs-University of Freiburg, Germany
2 Faculty of Kinesiology, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada
3 Institute of Sport Science, University of Augsburg, Germany

We investigated the associations among perceived instructor behaviors, psychological need satisfaction, motivation, and participation frequency in group exercise classes. 926 participants (Mage = 23.85, SDage = 5.82, Nfemales = 773) from 80 group exercise classes took part in the cross-sectional survey. We used multilevel structural equation modeling to estimate direct and indirect effects. Perceived instructor behavior was associated with need satisfaction and self-determined motivation and to a lesser but significant extent, participation. Small positive indirect effects were found between perceptions of instructor behaviors and participation frequency, mediated by the three needs and intrinsic motivation ( = .01-.02). Purposefully applying those specific instructor behaviors in group exercise classes may be an effective route for promoting psychological need satisfaction, intrinsic motivation, and participation in exercisers. Instructors should be aware that participants’ autonomy, competence, and relatedness satisfaction play different roles for behavioral regulations and therefore exercise participation.

KEYWORDS: intrinsic; autonomy; competence; relatedness