Using the 5 love languages in fitness classes

When we were living in Valdosta, I read a book called The Five Love Languages. I’m pretty sure a blog readerfriend pointed me in its direction, and it’s one of the books I’ve read that have had a profound impact on how I live. It’s one that I go back to and think of often, especially when I’m considering how I interact with those I love. 

5 love languages

Here’s the basic premise of the book if you haven’t heard of it:

We’re likely to give love in the way we prefer to receive love. There are 5 love languages: quality time, physical touch, gifts, acts of service, and words of affirmation. For example, if I preferred quality time, and I focused on planning dates and time together with the Pilot, and he’s more of an acts of service person, he’s not going to feel love in the same way as he would if I made him an awesome dinner or took the car to get detailed.

There’s a quiz in the book (and on the website!) you can take to find out your dominant love language, and it’s also helpful for your partner to take the test so you know the best way to show them love. You can use these techniques for many of the relationships in your life, like if you find yourself holiday shopping for a friend who loves words of affirmation. I highly, highly recommend it!

I was recently reminded of this book during yoga teacher training, and our instructor mentioned using the 5 love languages when we teach our classes. (Our instructor is incredible; she generously shares her knowledge and experiences, and I have already learned so much from her. ) We want our students to feel meaningful, and like we love them, while they’re in our class. She explained that different participants are going to respond to different strategies, so it’s important to try and use all 5 love languages when you’re teaching so you can “touch” each person that’s in the room.

Love languages

I am a physical touch person, and hugs are my faaaaave. For this reason, I LOVE when instructors adjust me during class, especially during yoga. At Session Yoga in Tucson, they are SO good at this (which is one of the many reasons why it’s my favorite Tucson studio). Once while I was in child’s pose, a studio owner came over and massaged my back to push me deeper into the pose. It was gloooooorious. Since I’m sure there will be people in my classes that like physical touch and adjustments, I will be sure to add them in when it’’s appropriate. How awesome is a savasana neck massage with lavender oil?! (Then again, some people hate to be touched to it’s important to remind the class that if they have an injury or would prefer not to be adjusted to give you some type of signal.)

Yoga  1 of 1

In teaching class, you’re performing an act of service by guiding the class through the workout or practice as a group. For quality time, you’re obviously spending time with your class participants, but it’s a matter of making the time count. Make it worth their while! For words of affirmation, be generous with individual or group praise when warranted. For gifts, I could think of giving the class a nugget of valuable information they may be able to use later, like how a pose or exercise will help them functionally in everyday life.

Pretty interesting stuff, and some techniques I’ll definitely be working on in my classes.

Have you read the 5 Love Languages? What’s your love language? Is it the same or different from your partner? Adjustments during class: love or hate it?

Hope you have a great morning <3



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  1. Kyra on April 14, 2015 at 7:59 am

    My husband and I both have physical touch as our primary love language. We both took the online test shortly after we got married and only answered one question differently! Weird.

    I absolutely love adjustments during class, especially yoga!

  2. Mary on April 14, 2015 at 8:00 am

    ohhhh I LOVE the love languages!! I’m a words of affirmation, and my boyfriend is an acts of service. it has helped us SO much and made our relationship a lot stronger. I love adjustments during class. If i didn’t want adjustments, I would do youtube yoga videos heheh

  3. Charlsie N on April 14, 2015 at 8:05 am

    I’m an acts of service and physical touch person. I love when my husband fills up my water bottle. He gives me the weirdest looks when I can’t stop smiling. My husband is physical touch and quality time.

    i love when i get adjustments. I really wish more were given!

    • Fitnessista on April 14, 2015 at 8:33 am

      haha i love that!
      i wish more were given, too. i’m always kind of bummed when i take a class and the instructor doesn’t do any adjustments

      • Charlsie N on April 14, 2015 at 8:40 am

        That’s how my class was last night so I kept asking a lot of questions. I probably annoyed the instructor…

  4. Hayley @ Full of Life on April 14, 2015 at 8:21 am

    I loved this book – helped me a lot in my own relationship. I really like adjustments from instructors during yoga. Especially since some of the time I am wondering if I am doing it correctly so it’s nice to have the help!

    • Fitnessista on April 14, 2015 at 8:32 am

      totally agree. it always helps me to get more out of it!

  5. RachelG on April 14, 2015 at 8:23 am

    I love getting adjustments in yoga when I am a student and am mindful of others before I give them when I teach. Sometimes if I’m with a new group of yogis while they have their eyes closed during the centering practice in the beginning I will ask anyone who prefers not to be physically adjusted to raise their hands. This way they can let me know without feeling self-conscious. <3

    • Fitnessista on April 14, 2015 at 8:32 am

      i love that idea! one of my favorite instructors tells those who don’t want to be adjusted to bring their hands to their heart when eyes are closed in tadasana

  6. Ashley @ My Food N Fitness Diaries on April 14, 2015 at 8:25 am

    This is super interesting to me! I LOVE The Five Love Languages and use it all the time in my personal relationships, but I’ve never even thought about incorporating it into teaching my group fitness classes. What great advice! I’m definitely a quality time and physical touch kinda gal. Wonder how I could incorporate physical touch into BodyPump or RPM without being…creepy? Haha.

    • Fitnessista on April 14, 2015 at 8:31 am

      wait, squeezing someone’s biceps is out??? juuuust kidding hahah

  7. amber conger on April 14, 2015 at 8:29 am

    I love this book! Read it last year and it made SO much sense and such an improvement in how I show my BF I care! YES PLEASE to hands on adjustments in class.

  8. Erin @ Erin's Inside Job on April 14, 2015 at 8:30 am

    I took the online test but now I don’t remember what my primary love language is! I need to go back and do that. I like how you were able to use them in a teaching structure…great ideas!

  9. Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine on April 14, 2015 at 8:36 am

    I am all about touch, but I need to take the quiz to see what that says 😉

  10. Emily on April 14, 2015 at 8:42 am

    I JUST read this book after a recommendation from a friend. I know it’s mostly about how you interact with your significant other, but I also wanted to know how to interact with my kids, etc. I took the quiz, and found that I’m all over the place! My love language changes with my mood which I’m sure is super frustrating 🙂

    I love adjustments during yoga, but I know not everyone is comfortable with it. What’s the best way to communicate to an instructor nonverbally that touch is cool or not cool? I heard one place had little tokens you would place by your mat, one side up if touch is okay, and the other side if it’s not.

  11. Ali on April 14, 2015 at 9:08 am

    Oh gosh. I hate being touched by most people. I hate it to the point where, if an instructor is walking towards me, I get anxious and nervous that they might touch me, even if I’ve already communicated that I dislike it. That nonverbal cue is not enough for me and I won’t come back to a where instructors insist on giving adjustments. I have only even had ONE yoga instructor that understood this and gave me verbal adjustments, which I love. Unfortunately, I now live 1000 miles away from him. 🙁 I miss him so much!

    • Fitnessista on April 14, 2015 at 2:54 pm

      so good to know! i think there are as many people who hate it who absolutely love it 🙂 bummer that you can’t take class from your favorite instructor. it’s always so sad when that happens

  12. Ryah on April 14, 2015 at 9:09 am

    My top love language is quality time, followed closely by physical touch and then words of affirmation. Gifts always rank dead last for me. I’d love to know how to tell/pick up on what someone else’s love language is. Without making them sit down and take the quiz I mean, ha. I think that’s a really cool idea to utilize that concept in yoga class.

    • Fitnessista on April 14, 2015 at 2:53 pm

      i think that usually you can determine it by seeing how they express love to you. for example, my nanas always gives little gifts to everyone. i definitely think that’s her love language 🙂

  13. Emily on April 14, 2015 at 9:10 am

    I love this book. Unfortunately I didn’t read it before the divorce of my first marriage, but read it not long afterwards. It made me view my previous relationship in a completely new light. My new husband and I have both read the book (I’m physical touch and he’s acts of service). I would highly recommend it to anyone (including the previous commenter who said she wanted to read it to interact with her kids – there are various titles to apply to other relationships, including one for kids I think).

    What a genius idea to incorporate it to your fitness classes. I definitely appreciate when an instructor tells me how I am doing or adjusts me during the class. I am a big proponent of proper form and having that adjustment makes me feel like I am learning the correct way to do a pose and get the most out of my workout.

    Congratulations again on your little one! I’m just three weeks behind you and have enjoyed your posts about the newest addition!

  14. Amber Schumann on April 14, 2015 at 9:10 am

    I’m equally Words of Affirmation AND Acts of Service.

    That book SAVED me when my husband and I were going through a rough time while I was pregnant. Even though he wasn’t participating in reading/understanding the theory, it gave me a whole different perspective on HIS love language (I learned that I was unknowingly unresponsive to his own expression of love).

    I never thought of the theory translating into the fitness instruction world–that is SO COOL! I know there’s also an interpretation on raising your kids using the theory (most notably, how to effectively praise them and how to discipline them based on their individual love language). My friend has 3 kids with completely different love languages. She said she interacts/praises/disciplines each one differently and sees AMAZING responsiveness.

    • Fitnessista on April 14, 2015 at 2:52 pm

      i just ordered the version for kids after reading this- thank you!

  15. Crystal on April 14, 2015 at 9:44 am

    My preferred love language is definitely acts of service. My husband prefers physical touch…it took me a while to understand that sometimes all he wants is a hug and kiss 🙂

    I love when my yoga teacher makes adjustments…she’s also a massage therapist, so I think she understands the importance of gentle touch.

    • Fitnessista on April 14, 2015 at 2:52 pm

      quite a few of my yoga friends are also massage therapists… it makes me consider next steps haha

  16. Julie on April 14, 2015 at 10:22 am

    I’m going to get this book. I’ve had several other people recommend it lately, too. Just the concept makes a lot of sense to me – I can totally see how we would most likely show love in the way in which we want to receive it & not appreciate others’ needs to give/receive love differently. Can’t wait to read it! Thanks so much for the recommendation.

    I absolutely love Body Flow, but they don’t do adjustments (at least not at my gym). I would LOVE that!!! It’s so much easier to get the pose right when you feel it vs. hear it.

  17. Erin @ Her Heartland Soul on April 14, 2015 at 10:30 am

    I think this would be a fun book to read with Josh! Thanks for the reminder! I’ve been meaning to for years!

  18. Sam on April 14, 2015 at 10:37 am

    So funny you wrote about this today. We’re getting married in less than 5 weeks (5/16!!) and we had to attend a Catholic marriage class for 7 weeks where the mentor couple discussed this topic/book. I am an acts of service/(thoughtful) gifts person, while my fiancé is a words and physical touch person. It took such a simple discussion for me to realize that all of my acts of service were kind of lost on him haha. I’m really trying to show love in the way he wants it, not the way I do. Great discussion!

  19. Coco on April 14, 2015 at 10:46 am

    I need to read this book and take the quiz immediately!! I am definitely NOT a touch-love person, but my husband totally is. He always wants to snuggle and kiss and touch, and it drives me crazy! Lol. I am definitely more of an acts of service person. When my husband simply empties the dishwasher or takes out the trash, I get weak at the knees haha

    • Fitnessista on April 14, 2015 at 2:50 pm

      hahah i love it. it’s really interesting how different you can be from your partner 🙂

  20. Maria on April 14, 2015 at 10:50 am

    This was a great book! I still reference it from time to time. My top love language was receiving gifts my husband’s was physical touch. I love getting adjusted in class, especially a yoga class. Sometimes you need help getting deeper into the stretch. I also like to know that I’m doing it right or what I could be doing so that I lower the risk of getting hurt.

  21. Danica @ It's Progression on April 14, 2015 at 11:01 am

    My husband and I read this book when we were engaged as part of our premarital classes with our pastor, and we loved it. It was a little cheesy at times, but the principles absolutely hold true.
    I love the idea of applying it to teaching fitness classes – I’m sure we could all apply it to our jobs in one way or another.

  22. Tracy on April 14, 2015 at 11:04 am

    I love adjustments (and hugs!!)! Thanks for the heads up on this book. I just ordered it!!

    • Fitnessista on April 14, 2015 at 2:50 pm

      yay, hope you love it!

  23. Jodie on April 14, 2015 at 12:44 pm

    Gina have you seen the video with janelle monae “yoga video”?

    • Fitnessista on April 14, 2015 at 2:49 pm

      no! off to google

  24. Sarah F on April 14, 2015 at 12:46 pm

    Love this book!

    When I did my YTT, one of the things that was suggested was handing a coaster when people arrived- with one side green, and one side red. If a person placed a coaster on the ground, red side up, it meant they did not want to be adjusted. But green side up- adjustments all the way!

    I love to be adjusted in class, so mine would definitely be green 🙂

    • Fitnessista on April 14, 2015 at 2:49 pm

      i’m totally going to use this idea!!

  25. jacqueline on April 14, 2015 at 12:56 pm

    My boyfriend are reading this right now! A chapter a week, then we discuss over lunch after church on Sunday since we only get to see each other a couple times a week. It works for us! It’s great for figuring out strategies/what we prefer, but it’s also just a really good “deep conversation” starter. I learned that I am definitely a words person… and he is not. At all. 😛

  26. Megan @ Skinny Fitalicious on April 14, 2015 at 1:01 pm

    I recently started taking private Pilates. My instructor is amazing. She gets me into deeper poses and elongated me by pushing my back further into certain poses then rubs my neck and back. I feel every vertebrae lengthen when she does it. It’s glorious!

    • Fitnessista on April 14, 2015 at 2:49 pm

      that sounds heavenly

  27. Samantha B on April 14, 2015 at 1:06 pm

    Thanks for the great insight! I love this perspective for group fitness instructors.

  28. Ashley @ A Lady Goes West on April 14, 2015 at 1:12 pm

    Hi Gina! Yes, I’m all about the love languages, an have discussed this with my husband in great detail. I’m time and words of affirmation, yet he is touch. So we have to work at it! 🙂 You know, you’d really get a lot out of Les Mills advanced instructor training (the AIM 2 module mostly, as AIM 1 is about technique and the program more), because we delved much deeper into your personality and how you can be a different person to reach others in your classes, using these same principles. It’s pretty awesome! I wrote about it if you want to know more … 🙂

    • Fitnessista on April 14, 2015 at 2:49 pm

      don’t you have to do AIM 1 first? i’m not sure how any of that works haha

      • Ashley @ A Lady Goes West on April 14, 2015 at 2:51 pm

        Yes, you have to do AIM 1 first — then about 3-6 months later you can go to AIM 2. You’ve been teaching BODYPUMP for long enough to go to an AIM 1, so I’d look into it if I were you. I did AIM 2 for BODYPUMP and it was a pretty awesome experience. I’m due to do it for BODYATTACK soon as well. AIM 1 and 2 are VERY different.

        • Fitnessista on April 14, 2015 at 2:55 pm

          good to know. i will look into it! thank you!

  29. Alex @ True Femme on April 14, 2015 at 1:13 pm

    This was a great post, Gina! I love it! I once heard that humans need to have a certain amount of physical contact every day (as adults and it doesn’t have to be intimate contact) to feel their best. I love it when my Pure Barre teachers help push me deeper into a stretch at the very end of class! It not only helps me get more out of the stretch but it’s a nice moment of connection.

    • Fitnessista on April 14, 2015 at 2:48 pm

      i totally agree with that! one hug and i’m a happy person 🙂
      love adjustments during stretches, too

  30. Lindsey @ Simply Lindsey on April 14, 2015 at 1:29 pm

    I LOVE that book!! It was so helpful for my husband and I to understand our family’s love languages (how they give and receive love) when we got married. The way my Mom shows love is different from my Mother-in-law. It was hard for me to understand that my new MIL was being loving at first because it wasn’t in the way my Mom showed me love. The book was so helpful for developing better relationships with my new family.

    • Fitnessista on April 14, 2015 at 2:48 pm

      so, so true! i think this is important for in-laws in general. when you’re just getting to know them, you could have no idea that they’re showing you love in a different way than you’re used to

  31. Kelsey on April 14, 2015 at 1:41 pm

    I am definitely a physical touch person, and my boyfriend, although I don’t think he’s taken the test, is definitely not – he’s probably quality time or acts of service. But, he’s mentioned before that since he’s NOT a physical touch person, he appreciates that I am because it’s just not natural for him to want to touch or hold hands, but he’s glad I initiate it.

    I love adjustments during yoga… during one class, I was in child’s pose and the instructor actually came and LAID on top of me with his chest facing the ceiling. It was a liiiiittle more than I bargained for, but the stretch and back push it provided felt pretty nice. Still, a little ballsy for him to do I thought 🙂

    • Fitnessista on April 14, 2015 at 2:47 pm

      haha that is ballsy! i would be like, “what is happening?”

  32. Eileen on April 14, 2015 at 5:27 pm

    Kelsey’s comment made me think of the scene from the movie “Couples Retreat” when the yoga instructor adjusts (aka-man handles) Vince Vaughn’s wife in front of him. LOL!

  33. Chrissy @Pink Polish and Running Shoes on April 14, 2015 at 5:56 pm

    I’ve always wanted to read that book. The concept is so interesting!

  34. Heather@hungryforbalance on April 14, 2015 at 6:01 pm

    Mine is acts of service and my husband’s is words of affirmation. Thank you for reminding me about this!
    I loooove it when instructors take the time to make adjustments. One of my favorite yoga instructors at our gym always began the move with us and then walked around the room giving feedback and adjustments. I found it to be so helpful!

  35. Kelly on April 14, 2015 at 7:27 pm

    My Masters thesis is on using the Five Love Languages in kindergarten classrooms. 🙂 Good stuff and applicable to every relationship in our lives!

    PS I’m a physical touch person too! Hold my hand!

  36. Lisa on April 15, 2015 at 3:27 am

    Agreed. Yoga and adjustments go together. Recently at one of my classes the instructor had a bowl with small ,glass colored gems and had a note … If you do not want to be adjusted during practice
    Ay this on your Matt. Great idea!

  37. Missy on April 15, 2015 at 3:48 am

    I love adjustments-especially when in savasana. I just took the online quiz, I think I want this book!! Im an acts of service person, my husband is physical touch.

  38. Mandy on April 15, 2015 at 6:46 am

    My son’s second grade teacher mentioned this book to me. She uses the ideas from the book with her students, and she had some wonderful and sweet insights about my son from what she read in this book. I need to get it! Thanks for the reminder!

  39. Nicole on April 15, 2015 at 6:51 am

    The 5 Languages of Love are so interesting! My boyfriend and I took the quiz and found it really informative!

  40. Monica on April 15, 2015 at 6:58 am

    Ah, cool idea. I never thought of how the Love Languages could be applied to teaching a class!

    I’m “Quality Time” and my husband is “Physical Touch.”

  41. Elle on April 15, 2015 at 10:56 am

    Mine is quality time. I don’t mind it when instructors adjust me, but I’m not very flexible and I’ve had instructors try and push me too far. But when the yoga instructor comes around during savasana with the lavender oil and gently pushes on my shoulders… that is the best!

    • Fitnessista on April 15, 2015 at 2:27 pm

      love that, too!

  42. Katie O on April 15, 2015 at 2:31 pm

    I’m definitely a touch person and my hubby is words of affirmation as his strongest…it definitely makes communicating our love tricky sometimes!

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