Now I don't want you to think I've reduced all my clients into one dimensional stereotypes BUT... sometimes there are similarities between class members that seem far too obvious!
Here are a few tongue in cheek exercise types. Which one are you?
The do-er: found in active, sweaty classes, the do-er is usually right at the front. There are two main sub types, the experienced do-er and the enthusiastic do-er. The experienced do-er sings along and always knows the next step. I find them very handy as a prompt and they lead the class more often than they know. The enthusiastic do-er is easy to spot by their wayward direction of travel within a class. If 10 people are going right they'll be grinning and winging off to the left. Do-ers learn by the doing and will complete the moves with me as I demonstrate, much to the delight of the watcher (see below!)
Enthusiastic do-ers transition fairly quickly into experienced do-ers so I regularly switch up all the classes to ensure that I look like I know more than them at all times.
The thinker: I love a thinker. The thinker is extremely analytical and must always know the purpose behind a move. The thinker takes longest to complete an exercise but is majestic in his/her precision. When teaching Pilates to a thinker I usually give applied examples of each movement and then sit on my hands with my lips clamped shut so I don't interrupt their cognitive process. Thinkers can be easily spotted because their socks always match their outfit. They'll ask me which way they should breathe before every breath and complete (perfectly) about a quarter of the exercises in any class.
The watcher: Watchers are identified by their "glakit" expression in between exercises. It took me a long time to learn how to teach watchers as I was convinced they weren't interested. A watcher follows actions rather than words, copying whatever the person next to them is doing. They even scratch their noses when I do as if it's all a game of "Simon Says". This means that if you're explaining the purpose of a move for the thinkers, the watchers are writing shopping lists in their heads and wondering when you'll stop bumping your gums. As I seem to find the watcher the hardest stereotype to teach, I 'fess up quickly that it's a challenge of mine and point out other participants with great technique for them to follow. It's easy to correct them from there on and we all win. Watchers typically have great spatial awareness so once they get a particular move they're beautiful to watch.
The listener: The listener is the first to close his/her eyes. Like the thinker, the listener responds best to a good old explanation and then to a constant murmer of directions and teaching points. When you hear my voice descending into a hypnotic drone you can be sure there are listeners in the room. Because listeners often have their eyes shut (in Pilates at least), they need specific vocal instruction. I've often seen do-ers on their fifth rep where listeners are waiting to begin because I didn't say "start now...". Because listeners are following everything they hear, they respond brilliantly to cumulative, linked series of exercises and seem to gain the most meditative benefits from classes as a result. Regardless of how they enter the class, the listener will depart serenely.
The reluctant exerciser: it's hard not to be offended when you hear the words "oh Jesus have we only been here for 15 minutes" at the start of one of your classes. Other turns of phrase are ,"but this is really tough!" and "why am I paying for this?". (Please note, this is not to be confused with "are you a sadist" which is just an astute observation made by most clients sooner or later.) Clock watching and rep counting, eye rolling, grunting and accidentally arranging dentist appointments during class time are also indicative of the reluctant exerciser. Nothing brings a class together quicker than a single enemy and the reluctant exerciser wastes no time in setting me up as that specimen of eviltude. As a result the classes get an opportunity to bond against the common threat and feel obliged to come back each week to support their fellow comrades. Reluctant exercisers are often the most loyal clients who send me lots of referral customers. They also call me on any moves they don't like which means I have to justify my programmes. I love that it keeps me thinking and classes would not be nearly as fun without them.
I love teaching people. No matter what's going on before I walk into a class, I'll leave smiling because of these moments of joy that come when the teaching and learning response works. Can you categorise instructors? I'd love to know...!
Enjoy Good Health!