As an experienced, top-notch Personal Trainer, Coach or Performance Specialist, you know your clients VERY well. You know their habits, what motivates them, how to avoid injuring them, how to keep them on track for success regardless of the goal, and you see their potential even when they don’t. You also know a secret abut your clients that many of those close to your clients may not. You know their…Learning Style.
Though you may not use that terminology, you can definitely identify which of your clients or athletes fall into each of these categories in terms of learning style: Visual, Kinesthetic or Auditory.
- Visual learners learn best by looking at pictures, or other visual representation or in the case of training, watching you perform the exercise correctly before and in some cases while attempting it themselves. These kinds of learners are easy to identify and accommodate.
- Kinesthetic learners learn best by doing; in the case of training this type of client, the only way they master the exercise is through repetition. These kinds of learners are “dream clients”!
- Auditory learners learn best by hearing the information, often repeated in different ways over and over and in the case of training, hearing the information before and during the exercise. Often, the auditory learner is the hardest client to identify, as they seem uncoordinated, un-athletic or slow when first evaluated. They are also among the most difficult to train or to coach as not only must the trainer or coach explain the information, he or she must do so in a way that the client or athlete can apply it.
The difference between being a good trainer and being a great trainer or being a good coach and a great coach can depend on how one communicates with this style of learner.
Communication is the basis of a good vs great coach.
Undoubtedly, you have run across a client or athlete that no matter how many times you show it, how many times they try it or how many different ways you have tried to explain it, cannot perform what you might call an easy exercise.
Auditory Learners in Action
I had a middle-aged female client who could not for the life of her figure out how to engage her abdominal muscle. I tried everything I could think of in terms of demonstration, but it was not until I said: “imagine you are about to be punched in the stomach and flinch as if you are bracing for the blow, making the sound ’uhhhh’” that she finally understood how to contract her abdominal muscle and effectively brace her core.
Similarly a friend of mine was working with a dancer who was strong, agile, flexible, and had great technique with the exception of her leaps. Anytime she tried to perform a “split leap” (Grandé Jeté)- think Michael Jordan in a full split minus the tongue out, soaring toward the goal- she did a “split jump”- think cheerleader- explode straight up, land in the same spot- and this was keeping her from being cast in many performances. Finally one day I had the opportunity to work with her and the phrase that changed her leap was “give me some hang time, travel all the way across the room before you land” -Leap perfected. She later told me that no one had taken the time to explain to her what was missing from her leap; everyone just assumed she would “see” it, when really she needed to hear it.
The last example and perhaps the one I learned the most from, was a client I was working with whose goal is was to loose A LOT of weight. In addition to her time with me, she had homework including lots of “fast walking” to help recreate her metabolic profile. After three weeks of her doing all of her homework, meeting with me, following all of the guidelines set forth in her plan, she was not loosing weight as quickly as we both expected and I had a suspicion it was her “alone walk time”. Though I had walked with her to demonstrate her homework pace and she had done it for 18 days, meaning she had plenty of practice, it was not until I said “walk like someone is chasing you and so quickly that it’s more comfortable to keep your mouth open to breathe” that she really understood what fast walking was, could keep up that pace and began to see big results.
Helping Your Clients / Participants
Might you have some clients that are auditory learners who could benefit from your unique ability to communicate with them? If the answer to that question is “YES”, try the following next time you work with an auditory learner:
- Describe how they should feel “you should be huffing and puffing”
- Provide them with as many if/then scenarios as possible “if you put all of the weight in your heels when you squat, then you will be able to lift your toes off of the floor”
- Give them real world comparisons “squeeze your shoulder blades together as if you were trying to held a pencil between them”
- Learn FROM them: when they master a new concept, ask them what made the difference.
Can you hear me now? J