Putting the ‘we’ into workout: The association of identity leadership with exercise class attendance and effort, and the mediating role of group identification and comfort
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Authors: Steffens, N.K., Slade, E.L., Stevens, M., Haslam, S.A. and Rees, T.
Journal: Psychology of Sport and Exercise
© 2019 Elsevier Ltd This research examined how identity leadership displayed by group exercise instructors is associated with exercisers’ class attendance and in-class effort. Group exercise participants assessed their instructors’ engagement in identity leadership at baseline before indicating their comfort in the exercise environment, identification with the exercise group, class attendance, and in-class effort four weeks later. Results indicated positive associations between instructors’ identity leadership and exercisers’ group identification and comfort in the exercise environment four weeks later. Furthermore, results provided evidence of indirect effects. First, identity leadership was associated with members’ more frequent class attendance through their stronger group identification. Second, identity leadership was associated with members’ greater in-class effort through (a) their stronger group identification, and (b) their greater comfort. These relationships remained significant when accounting for the effect of established motivational predictors (i.e., competence and autonomy). These results point to the role that instructors’ leadership plays in promoting physical activity by suggesting that instructors’ engagement in identity leadership is associated with exercisers’ group-related experiences which, in turn, are a basis for group exercise participation.