Modes of exercise instruction have to be viewed in light of the motives and knowledge we have of our client and their psyche. Effective instruction takes into account the individual characteristics of the client, the personality traits and working style of the trainer, contextual factors and the goals that are set. It also has to have a certain flexibility to achieve maximum effectiveness.
We generally can observe two fundamental instruction strategies trainers use, the demanding and the cooperating behaviors. Demanding trainers usually make decisions on their own, while the cooperating instructor’s style involves their clients in the decision-making process as well. The two modes also come with different motivational techniques. The demanding trainer feels responsibility for controlling and coordinating the efforts and behavior of the client, as well as their motivation and the needed modifications of their undesired behaviors. Therefore they feel they need to control the client, because without control they would be passive and put forth less effort.
While the demanding trainer issues rewards and punishments in order to keep client behavior under control, the cooperating trainer has a more positive outlook on the characteristics of their clients. He does not feel that they are lazy, passive and unmotivated, if so, it can sometimes be attributed to bad client experiences from the past. Motivation, possibility of development and taking responsibility are present in every client (or can be developed). Currently, one is more likely to see trainers who believe in a cooperating style.
We need to be aware of instruction modes that involve effective nonverbal communication. Nonverbal communication is often far more important than its verbal counterpart. The two aspects of communication have to be congruent for us to be regarded as authentic personalities. If we communicate something verbally, but our nonverbal communication says exactly the opposite, we should not be surprised if our clients do not react as we expect.
Nonverbal communication involves three important aspects relevant to our work: body language, proxemics, and the way we say things. Body language covers posture, physical appearance, gestures, touch cueing and facial expressions (paralanguage).
Proxemics is a term used to describe how people communicate within the use of their personal space. We have to be aware that cultural differences significantly influence this kind of communication with others, and we must respect that.
Paralanguage, the way we say things, includes the pitch, volume and intonation of speech. As a fitness instructor you have to provide the client a safe environment and an enjoyable exercise experience. To ensure that kind of experience, you have to be an expert communicator. You have to be comfortable communicating with different clients, which also means different personality types. You may need to change your communication and instruction style according to the other person’s characteristics and needs. Instructions should be personalized. You should never forget that you are working with individuals who have distinct traits, beliefs, expectations and reactions to your instructions. You will have to use modes of instruction according to the characteristics of the given client to ensure the best possible effect.
You will learn about sport and fitness psychology methods in the NESTA Personal Fitness Trainer Certification, Wexford University Sport and Fitness Degree Programs, and the Spencer Institute Sport Psychology.