Cueing & Learning Styles
There are three basic learning styles: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. People can be a mix of all three, but many have a stronger preference for one. These hold true for school, the workplace, and group fitness classes. Understanding the way people learn is hugely important because if you don’t teach all three styles, you could frustrate and lose 1/3 (or more) of your class.
Learning Through Seeing. Most people fall into this category. Visual learners learn best by seeing the information being taught. Seeing would include activities such as reading text and looking at pictures, flow charts, or diagrams. Visual learners also process information while observing demonstrations; for example, when watching a trainer perform a movement several times. In group exercise classes, these are the actual physically demonstrated things that instructors do to show a movement, form, or technique.
Raising the arm or pointing to the foot are examples of visual cueing. While this method is physical in nature, it does not replace the use of the spoken word. The instructor is still required to explain what is expected of the participant while the visual cue is being given. Words used during the visual cue must be spoken in the appropriate order.
For example, if the desired result is to have the participants walk towards the rear left corner of the room, the instructor must first begin with the left walk facing the front of the room, then angle the left shoulder towards the left rear corner of the room, then move the participants in that direction. It is advisable that the instructor cues the ‘move’ first, and then follows through with the directional.
Learning Through Hearing. Auditory learners prefer to learn by hearing instructions, listening to lectures, and taking notes. In group exercise classes, these are the words that the instructor speaks to the participants. The actual verbal explanation of how to perform a move, what you expect the participants to do, and how to get there are conveyed in the verbal cueing. Verbal learners are also good at associating music with movement.
Learning Through Doing. Kinesthetic learners prefer movement and hands-on activities. They like to use the senses of touch, smell, and taste in the learning experience. In group exercise, it’s also called tactile or physical cueing and is used to teach proper movement patterns, as it trains their kinesthetic awareness. This is more often used in personal training, but a situation may arise where you physically need to assist a member through a motion to get the desired pattern or position.
Balancing All Learning Types
Recognizing that not all students learn the same way requires that an instructor use a variety of cueing techniques to convey a single concept or bit of instruction for all participants to understand and follow along successfully. Much of what you’ll do depends on the types of classes you teach.
A yoga instructor might never touch the mat or do a single demo, but instead, verbally cues each movement, walking around using hands-on corrections (a blend of auditory and kinesthetic). A hip-hop instructor might perform every single step, emphasizing movements, visually showing each step. Find what’s appropriate for the classes you teach and know that balancing all three types in each class just takes practice and discipline.
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