How many of you learn by seeing it done? Did you know that’s a common way of learning? You might’ve heard it called modeling. Someone might say, “Can you model that please?” or, “Can you demonstrate that?” The point is – learning by seeing it done.

Learning By Seeing

Why is this important for the domain of fitness, exercise, and healing? When you hire a trainer, or if we work together for example, then it’s important that I’m able to model for you. You’d want a trainer to model the exercise correctly? You’d probably want a trainer who modeled a healthy lifestyle, right? One simple way I demonstrate my healthy lifestyle is by offering tips and tricks to clients. I know these tips and tricks because of my experience in the field of healing myself, living a healthy life with my wife, and running a busy practice. Therefore, I appreciate the busy life of clients and I attempt not to burden them with all the “don’t need to knows”.


Back to Bandura


Bandura is called the Father of Cognitive Psychology. He discovered through running an experiment called “The Bobo Doll Study” that people learn by seeing others. Kids learned to hit a clown and imitate the hostile language spoken by the adult. Bandura’s theory for learning through observation and modeling is called “Social Learning Theory”.


Here’s a video of Bandura speaking about short clips from the Bobo Doll Experiment.



Skip from 1:20-1:40 to see the adult model the behavior they want the kids to adopt.

Skip 1:50-2:10 to see the child imitating the behavior of the adult.


Details of Bandura’s Bobo Doll Experiment


A Bobo the Clown Doll was a blow up doll with a weight in the bottom. When you knocked the doll over it would stand back up. He got some kindergarteners together. At first he did it with a live model and later on because it was cheaper he’d show a video recording. They would show the kindergarteners this scene of a model going up and kicking over the Bobo Doll and hitting it. Even taking a small mallet and hitting it on the head saying, “sackaroo, sackaroo sackaroo!” What he thought of as aggressive phrases.


After showing them this scene of the model doing this to the poor Bobo doll. People criticized Bandura for using a doll. At some point, he actually hired a live clown to replicate the experiment. The model would go up and hit the real clown with a humane mallet. What happened when the kindergarteners were let loose? They ran and grabbed the mallets and saying the exact same thing that the model did, “sackaroo, sackaroo, sackaroo!” And whacking the Bobo doll and the poor clown.


Bandura found out kids could learn purely through observation. There wasn’t a direct stimulus that they were getting. There was no positive reinforce they were receiving for learning this. In classical behavioral psychology, there should have been. Instead, the kids thought it was fun to walk on the doll. They did what the model showed them they could do. He saw this as what he called, “observational learning”.


The Bobo doll studies confirmed that you could learn simply by observing what was going on. This happened in three different realms as attention, retention, and reproduction. Attention is paying attention to what is going on. You’ve picked up on and received the information that is coming. Retention means you possess the mental ability to keep that idea in your head, to keep it in your head long enough to act on it. He called that mental images and verbal descriptions. He had a way of describing the mental processes that went on in our heads. Finally, reproduction means you get hold of the ability to reproduce the action that you were doing.


All of this was informed by the fact that there would be motivation to do it. The motivation was key in that it was a part of the learning process. It wasn’t what we got out of it. Motivation is a part of the process itself. So, attention, retention, and reproduction informed by motivation formed the cornerstone of what Bandura called “observation learning”.


Attention, Retention, Reproduction:


The above headline is why I want to speak with clients about how they felt and experienced each exercise. I’m mindful that you are building an internal model of the movement. And, as you map new territory within your kinesthetic system I want you to verbalize your awareness. I care to know what you are experiencing, in what muscle, to what intensity, and how you are assessing these things. Since your growth is my highest priority, it’s important for me to understand your operating system. It also helps me to understand what you are retaining from the movement. When I know what you are retaining and what you are using to operate your body through movement, then it makes it easier to build upon our practice together session by session. I’ve seen tremendous growth in clients over the years utilizing this methodology of modeling. Yes, my approach is unique in this way. I think people who undervalue you thinking and processing are correct, for them. However, my experience has shown that correctly thinking and verbalizing your experience offers the greatest chances of success. By speaking about your experience you can contrast and match the best parts of your effort with your stated outcomes. Just my opinion.


Back to Personal Training


When you hire a trainer, or you hire me, then I am fully aware that I am teaching you not only through my words but through my actions. I thought it was an important point to highlight to you. The journey of a healthy life has many facets and subsets to be discovered. You can help yourself by checking in and making sure you are modeling the right exercise form and practice. The reason I attempt to give clients simple daily practice exercises is to build within them the ability to reproduce exercises we do together. There is great value in practicing exercises at home for a couple of minutes in the morning and in the evening. One benefit is that it will help you to feel the subtleties of the movement in the future. Another benefit is that you can retain the movement in your brain. Your mind-muscle connection is stronger. At the same time, once you’ve mastered the movement mechanics you can begin the journey to real strength. The type of strong bones, ligaments, tendons, and spirit that comes from repeated and consistent effort.

Important Points to Remember

  1. A Daily Practice Is Important 
  2. The Mind-Muscle Connection is Priority Number 1
  3. Master the Movement Mechanics 

I hope you enjoyed this post and that you stop back again as I share the various parts of health and healing with you.




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *