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Physical Training & the ADDIE Model

I was working out the other day, and I was telling my trainer about the ADDIE model. (Obviously, I am the life of any party.) I’d just written the post about My Good Friend ADDIE.

12-10 Gingko Trio

To explain what it is to my trainer (between lifting various weights), I outlined how he uses the ADDIE model with his clients. Here are some of the things I’ve seen him do, which we can use to illustrate a systematic process, whether a person thinks of what they’re doing in instructional design terms, or not.


As with most instructional design applications, you’ll notice that some of these analyses overlap a little.

Needs Assessment. What are my client’s fitness goals? Are they realistic?

What shape is she in now? Will physical training help?

What can we agree on as initial and longer-term goals? How will we know we’ve been successful?

Audience Analysis. What do I know about this client?

  • Physical strength, stamina
  • Previous physical training
  • Coordination
  • Injuries or other limitations
  • Weight, body fat
  • Diet
  • Posture
  • Preferences
  • Initial attitude and motivation
  • Previous experiences with training
  • Involved in individual, on-going exercise (or not)
  • Involved in sports or other group exercise

Context. What in our training environment will work or not work for this client?

  • Our hours of operation & her needs/availability
  • Support at home or on the job for working out
  • Equipment, atmosphere are right for this client

Content. What are the potential exercises and activities that will work for her?


Creating interim goals (a collaboration).

Working out the general parameters of a diet and exercise program. Discussing these, and reaching an agreement on the overall plan.


Listing exercises for each session ahead of time.


Getting equipment ready. Demonstrating how to do exercises. Watching for form and safety. Giving feedback.

Discussing progress. Giving encouragement and making adjustments during the session.


Reviewing and coaching related to workouts, diet, sleep, and outside exercise.

Checking progress against goals.

By contrast: Some fitness trainers just come up with a list of exercises and then apply them to everyone they work with that day. That is not a systematic approach.

Following the ADDIE framework can produce much better results, because we’re aiming for what matters to the client and then carefully making sure that we get there. As you can see, the fitness training application of ADDIE is (and should be) flexible. It will change over time. Adjustments can be made as a client loses weight and/or develops stamina and becomes stronger. Attitudes, scheduling, and much else can shift along the way, causing the designer (in this case, the fitness trainer) to revisit different aspects of the design to make adjustments.

In the mind of the experienced fitness trainer, using the ADDIE model can be fast, flexible, iterative and ever-so-helpful.

It can be fun to find uses for the ADDIE framework that we might not have considered. Where have you seen uses that seem unusual or that maybe surprised you?

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