Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence refers to one of the eight types of intelligence from Gardner’s multiple intelligences theory.
People with this type of intelligence tend to be good at physical activity and learn through using their bodies.
If bodily-kinesthetic intelligence is the type of intelligence that resonates most with you, then you’ll be good at jobs that involve the use of your body every single day. But you’ll likely struggle at desk jobs where you don’t move about much.
Below are some of the key jobs that might be a good fit for you.
1. Sports Coach
Athletes are the best example of people that rely on kinesthetic learning. Every day of practice involves movement, tactile sensations, and hand-eye or hand-foot coordination.
Learning the best mechanical movements to perform a very specific athletic feat requires lots of repetition.
In many Olympic events, an athlete will be video-recorded and have a myriad of electrodes attached to their body. That technology can provide the coach and the athlete an incredibly detailed picture of what is being performed properly and what needs to be changed.
It’s the job of the coach and trainer to be the expert in mechanics and know how to help the athlete gradually improve so that they can reach their fullest potential. The coach isn’t just going to talk about what to do, they will demonstrate the proper positioning and sequence of movements; maybe even move the athlete’s arms and legs into the correct positions. It’s a very kinesthetic approach to training.
2. Auto Body Repair
Taking the side panel of a car that has been smashed, scraped, and contorted into a continuous wave of creases and dents and transforming it back into one smooth curvature is no easy feat.
It can take years of experience to understand how metal or fiberglass responds to manipulation.
There are a variety of tools at hand and a skilled professional will even know and when to utilize thermal applications to get to the desired outcome.
It is a job that requires the use of one’s hands and eyes to assess the quality of the repair and ensure that the once tangled scrap of metal now looks like it just came off the assembly line.
3. Physical Therapist
A physical therapist is a medical professional that helps people recover from injuries or other health-related conditions that affect their movements.
They work with people of all ages, including the elderly who are having difficulty moving properly in their everyday lives, athletes that may have suffered an injury during a competition, or someone that has an illness that has severely impaired their mobility.
The therapist will diagnose the patient’s conditions by observing them stand or walk, or implementing diagnostic equipment to assess nerve and muscle damage. They will then design a treatment plan that includes exercises, stretching, strength and coordination activities, and other hands-on techniques.
The job of a physical therapist is totally focused on bodily-kinesthetic movement and functioning.
Professional ballerinas and dancers have extraordinary control of their bodies. There is a wide range of movements involved in their routines that can be incredibly complex.
Although an audience may not be able to discern the degree of difficulty of what they see on stage, the dancer is performing a highly-coordinated sequence of movements that involve moving their entire body in a synchronized routine from head to toe.
A ballerina must be a master of kinesthetic learning. Observing the movements demonstrated by the choreographer and then being able to replicate those actions to exacting standards requires incredible focus and attention to detail.
Only those with incredible kinesthetic abilities will become professionals.
People that enjoy kinesthetic activity are especially in-tune with tactile sensations. In the area of agriculture, this means examining a fruit or vegetable and being able to determine its level of ripeness or ascertain other qualities that require more than just visual inspection.
For example, to know if a mango is ripe requires a great sense of smell. Give it a slow and deep sniff around the stem to determine if it is ripe or not. If it smells sweet then it is most likely ready for consumption.
For an avocado, holding it in the palm of your hand and giving it a gentle squeeze can tell you if it is ready to eat. If it’s very mushy, then it is over-ripe; if it is very firm and doesn’t give, then it is under-ripe.
These are all tactile cues that an experienced professional and natural kinesthetic learner will use every day.
Carpentry is an occupation that requires a lot of movement. There is sawing, sanding, chiseling, and hammering. All by hand.
After a piece of furniture or other item has been formed, then comes more sanding, prepping, sealing, and painting. These all require steady and smooth strokes to make the finished product look pleasing to the eye.
And let’s not forget the power tools. A carpenter’s workshop can be full of machines that serve all kinds of functions. There are table saws, power drills, nail guns, sanders, and lathes…just to name a few.
Operating this kind of machinery requires a excellent bodily control to make precise cuts and super-tight fittings. You can always tell if a carpenter has kinesthetic skills; they’re the ones that still have all of their fingers.
When it comes to acting, you need to have extremely good control over your body. Actors use their bodies to take on a persona that’s not their own. Their body also needs to convey emotion, create tension, and engage the audience.
Every gesture, facial expression, and bodily movement must be well thought-out yet also convincingly natural.
To achieve this, actors will need to have a very good understanding and control over their bodies.
They may need to know how to control their breathing (called breath work), and how to project their voices across a theater.
In short, actors need to be able to use their own bodies as tools for their jobs.
Mechanics are using their hands all day long. They need to be comfortable with manipulating objects with their hands, choosing tools to help them achieve the job, and problem-solving on the go.
This is one job that’s hard to replace with AI or other machines. You’ll always need mechanics to get their hands dirty and get involved in fixing vehicles.
Learning to be a mechanic requires hands-on learning rather than lots of practice time. As a result, a bodily-kinesthetic learner might like to become a mechanic because they’ll have a lot of practical on-the-job learning and practice.
9. PE Teacher
A PE teacher spends their days not only playing sports with students but also teaching them about their bodies and how to use their bodies.
Bodily-Kinesthetic learners make for good PE teachers because they have a good understanding of their bodies. As a result, they can teach about bodily movements and the mechanics of them to students well.
Furthermore, if you’re a PE teacher, you won’t be stuck inside a stuffy classroom all day long. You can take your students outside to do a lot of practical outdoor physical education.
A firefighter is a quintessential job where you have to use your body. In fact, when a firefighter isn’t out in the field, they’re often encouraged to do exercise in the fire station to maintain peak physical condition.
Firefighting will require you to put your body on the line every day. You’ll be in situations where you have to wear a heavy suit and carry heavy objects such as fire hoses in a high-pressure situation.
As a result, selection procedures for firefighters often involve a lot of physical aptitude tests in order to gauge how well a firefighter can control their fine and gross motor skills, as well as how perseverant they are in physical situations.
People with bodily-kinesthetic intelligence tend to be best at jobs that involve a lot of physical activity. These are jobs that require you to use your senses, stay active throughout the day, and have good knowledge of how to use your body and push it to its limits.
However, you might struggle as a person with bodily-kinesthetic intelligence to do jobs that require a lot of reading od theoretical work or desk work because you’re mostly inclined to learn through doing rather than sitting still. Furthermore, you’ll tend to find those sorts of jobs very frustrating because you’ll feel constrained by the inability to use your body throughout the day.
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Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education.