Staying Healthy Through Education and Prevention (STEP)

Chapter 4: STEP Team Training

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Chapter 4 outlines the training STEP Instructors should receive prior to leading the STEP physical activity program. This chapter describes how the Implementation Guide can be used as a self-study tool or as part of a workshop-based training program and provides suggestions for training in both formats. It also recommends additional training resources, if your STEP program team would like more information.


After reading this chapter, you will:

  • Be able to use the Implementation Guide for training staff.
  • Be able to use the Implementation Guide materials for self-study.
  • Be able to identify the topics and competencies required of STEP Instructors.
  • Understand how to assess whether STEP training has been effective.


  • STEP Program Coordinator: A staff person who provides management and oversight to the STEP program in a senior housing facility.
  • STEP Instructors: Staff who lead the strength and behavior coaching sessions. An instructor can also be the STEP Coordinator.
  • STEP Workshop Instructor: The person who takes on the short-term responsibility of coordinating the Staff Training Workshop. This person can be a paid consultant or an existing staff person with appropriate experience.
  • STEP Team: All staff members directly or indirectly involved in planning, managing, or leading STEP.

Key Points

  • The STEP Team should be familiar with how the STEP program is structured and conducted and should therefore attend the Training Workshop.
  • In addition to using the resources provided in this guide, staff are encouraged to seek additional, community-based resources to assist in developing and implementing the STEP program.

STEP Training Workshop Format

A training workshop on the STEP program should be a combination of lecture, demonstration, and practice of the exercises. The bulk of the training will involve reviewing chapters in the STEP Implementation Guide that address the STEP program. There should also be a period for practicing the movements participants will perform as part of the program (balance and strength exercises).

If your facility has an exercise specialist or physical therapist onsite, you may want to arrange for him or her to observe the practice session and ensure that your STEP leaders are using proper technique. That individual may also serve as a Workshop Instructor. If an exercise specialist is unavailable, you can rely on the descriptions and video provided by the guide. In this case, have your staff watch and critique each other until everyone is confident in the movements.

The length of the workshop can vary from 4 to 6 hours, depending on the size of the class and the amount of time spent reviewing each chapter of the STEP Implementation Guide. It is wise to plan ahead to ensure that all STEP Team members are available for this block of time.

To prepare for a STEP Training Workshop, you will need:

  • A designated individual to serve as the Workshop Instructor.
  • A room equipped for both lecture and exercise demonstrations.
  • A room large enough to practice the STEP exercises.
  • An armless chair for each training participant to use during exercise training.
  • A set of ankle weights for each participant and the trainer.
  • A copy of the Implementation Guide for each person being trained.

Training Workshop Outline:

  1. Introduction to the STEP Program Chapter 1
    1. Review the origin of STEP
    2. Discuss the benefits and importance of exercise in old age
  2. STEP Program Format
    1. Review each section of Chapter 6
  3. STEP Physical Activity Intervention
    1. Review each section of Chapter 7
    2. Demonstrate each exercise and watch the STEP video segments
    3. Practice each exercise and receive feedback
    4. Discuss the importance of walking
  4. Behavior Coaching
    1. Review STEP Behavior Coaching Program (Chapter 8 )
    2. Review Behavior Coaching Session curriculum and lesson plans (Chapter 9 )
    3. Review Coaching Session handouts (Chapter 10 )
  5. Recruitment and Retention of Participants
    1. Review Chapter 4
  6. Implementation of STEP Program
    1. Review any administrative details that the team needs to be aware of in their roles

STEP Self-Study Training

In some situations, a formal structured training workshop will not be practical or feasible for a senior community that plans to implement the STEP program. For example, sometimes the full STEP Team cannot be present for the workshop without neglecting important duties, or the team is not large enough to warrant a formal group training session. In such cases, the lead staff members should complete a self-study training that includes the following:

  • Reading the STEP Implementation Guide, focusing on Chapters 1 and 4-8.
  • Watching the STEP video segments that demonstrate each exercise.
  • Demonstrating each STEP exercise to a physical therapist, exercise specialist, or other colleague.
  • Reviewing Chapter 3, Implementation of the STEP Program.

How To Know Training Is Effective

This Implementation Guide is meant to provide instructions on how staff can develop the knowledge and skills to implement the STEP exercise program. However, this guide does not provide formal certification or oversight for the Program Coordinator or Instructors. It is therefore important for staff to assess whether the training has been effective. Accordingly, when training is complete:

  • Staff have acquired detailed knowledge of all aspects of the STEP program.
  • Staff can perform all STEP exercises according to examples provided in video clips.
  • Staff can describe specific approaches to setting up the STEP classes and implementing a structured walking program in their facilities.
  • Staff understand and can demonstrate the strength and balance exercises.
  • Staff understand the strategies described in the behavior coaching sessions and the importance of this component.


  • Staff are successful enrolling seniors in the STEP program.
  • Staff are successful in retaining seniors in the program and helping them maintain their activity levels.

Additional Training Resources

The STEP Implementation Guide is designed to provide all the materials and information a senior housing community needs to ensure that their staff is prepared to offer the STEP program. However, we also encourage you to explore additional resources for guidance and to help you develop expertise as you implement your program.

Exercise and Physical Activity Expertise

Exercise specialists and physical therapists are a great resource for training staff on the proper techniques for each exercise. Check with your local rehabilitation center, YMCA, or private fitness center for individuals who would be willing to work with your community. If you need a STEP Workshop Instructor, these are good resources to access to identify a trainer.


Exercise & Physical Activity—Your Everyday Guide from the National Institute on Aging. Order from National Institute on Aging Information Center, P.O. Box 8057, Gaithersburg, MD 20898-8057; 800-222-2225 (toll free); 800-222-4225 (TTY/toll free);

Exercise for Frail Elders, Elizabeth Best-Martini and Kim A. Botenhagen-DiGenova, Human Kinetics;

STEP Participating Organizations

The Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society (GSS), 4800 West 57th Street, Sioux Falls, SD 57108; 605-362-3100. GSS has implemented the STEP program in a number of its senior housing centers and is available to answer basic questions about training, program implementation, and program management.

Page last reviewed October 2014
Page originally created February 2011
Internet Citation: Chapter 4: STEP Team Training. Content last reviewed October 2014. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.