Most people don’t necessarily think of working out as learning, but as a fitness professional, you know the truth. Programming a workout is a lot like making a lesson plan and communicating movements to clients in a safe and effective manner is definitely teaching. Whether or not your client is thinking about how they learn best, it is wise to teach your classes with all different kinds of learners in mind.
Visual learners will benefit greatly from your demonstrations. If you’re working with multiple devices while you teach, you might consider sharing your screen on one of your devices and showing an infographic of the movement you are asking your clients to perform.
This is when your body will be your best tool. Be sure to demonstrate the movement multiple times, at least once at a slower pace, to ensure that your primarily visual learners have the information they need to be successful. Clearly show both correct and incorrect movements. You might also consider asking your clients to first visualize themselves going through the movements while you demonstrate.
This is where you get to show your personality as a trainer. Auditory learners pick up on tone, humor, and analogies to understand information.
Auditory learners follow spoken instruction quite well which makes it easier for them to follow along in a virtual setting, provided you are clear in your speech. On a purely technical level, you need to be enunciating clearly during every class. Your diction is key and you may want to incorporate a pre-class vocal warm up into your class prep.
A helpful tactic is making verbal connections between working out and functional life movements. If you know that one of your clients has a small child (perhaps they’ve even wandered into the frame mid-class, it happens), you can say that proper squat form is useful in leaning down and scooping up a child. You can begin to draw connections between the time you spend with your client and the other hours of their day.
Kinesthetic learners understand the world around them by physically doing things.
We all know that hands-on adjustments are on pause right now, so in the age of online fitness, you can benefit from making sure everyone is on the same page about which muscles are being used during an exercise before allowing them to perform multiple reps.
If you have programmed bicep curls, have your client hold a towel first and focus on activating their bicep as they curl (on the concentric movement) as well as making note of their tricep as their bicep lengthens (on the eccentric movement). When you add weights, your clients will be able to remember which muscles should be working by recalling how it physically felt in their arms. Don’t be afraid to slow down your warm ups and explain what muscles should be primarily moving or supporting.
A Mix of Styles
These learning styles don’t exist in a vacuum. People may prefer or respond best to one kind of learning, but that doesn’t mean the other styles of learning aren’t effective at all. Think of these three styles of learning as a three-circle Venn diagram. For example, you’re going to have clients who respond well to both visual and auditory learning. Sometimes these people are referred to as “reading/writing learners”. These are your clients who are going to do well with workbooks or other physical ways to track their progress and write down what they worked on. A reading/writing learner in yoga would find it helpful to write down in their own words what they physically did to achieve a proper inversion.
Even though we’re primarily working through screens right now, there are still ways to cater to a variety of learning styles to ensure the best experience for your clients.