Working with a Dyspraxic Client & the Cha Cha Slide!

I’ve been a qualified personal trainer for 7 years now. One of my favourite parts of the job is the different people I get to meet, and the different type of clients I get to work with. I’ve written a short series on experiences I’ve had working with different clients.

This is the first in the series.

One of the clients I have learnt a lot from is a teenager that has dyspraxia and some learning difficulties. Dyspraxia is brain disorder that makes movement in general more difficult. Usually, treatment revolves around making basic daily activities easier to achieve. This can be done either by adapting tasks to make them simpler, or practicing motor skills in general (catching, throwing, balancing). You can read more here.

With my client, our goal was to get her simply moving. And so enjoyment of movement was the most important thing. However, while working with her, I developed a sub-goal of improving her balance, which I believed would improve her day-to-day life. In particular, I wanted to work on ankle strength to help her feel more in control and reduce the risk of falling over.

Below is a video giving a quick explanation of what I’ve done with this client. But first I wanted to mention 2 things that I’ve learnt while training this young lady;

  • Timeframes are different for each individual – with someone with dyspraxia (and in my experience, a lot of fitness beginners) the timeframes needed to achieve goals need to be adjusted and made more fluid.
    • With more experienced clients, they pick up 75% of a new movement in one session, and other sessions are simply used to reinforce good movement.
    • With novice clients, there has to be more patience both from me (the trainer) and the client. Patience and repetition while keeping things interesting, can be challenging, but is my favourite part of training new clients!
  • Awareness of Limitations – Personal trainers have a tendency to train clients like we would ourselves, or even like athletes. Doing that however, is a disservice to any clients I work with. By recognising their limits, and knowing how they envision themselves after training with you, you get understanding  and can create better goals that are challenging but not discouraging!



In the video above, I show how I get my client walking on different parts of foot to work on both ankle mobility and strength, which I am hoping to translate to better balance.

To do this for 5 minutes would be boring for anyone, that’s why doing it to music was one way to ensure my client enjoyed her sessions (which was her goal) and improves here balance (which was my goal for her).

With a personal trainer, you say what you want, and they tell you what they can do. Their goal is accomplish what you want, not extra-funky exercises that don’t help you achieve YOUR goal. You’re paying for a cappucino, not froth. You deserve steak too(!), and not just sizzle!

If they haven’t bothered to ask you questions and tailor it to your exact needs. It’s going to be a waste of time!

Dingis Fitness is for you. Making fitness what you want it to be!

Read more about us here!

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