Elizabeth Kovar by Elizabeth Kovar
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Working on your cueing techniques is a great way to improve your group fitness classes in 2018. After all, cueing can make or break a class. And we’re not just talking about the words you use—your mind, body and voice all work together to communicate the exercises or instructions.

The first step to improving your cueing techniques is to recognize the different learning styles of your participants. Most individuals have a preferred learning style, but many people thrive with a combination of two or more of the following learning methods:

  • Auditory – learn through hearing. These people learn by listening to instructions and verbal cues.
  • Visual – learn through seeing. These individuals learn through visual tactics and seeing physical movements demonstrated.
  • Kinesthetic – learn by doing. These people learn by executing and practicing the movement with manual adjustments.

You can improve your cueing techniques through the use of voice inflection, nonverbal cueing and visualization cueing to cater to the different learning styles of your participants.  

Voice Inflection

Have you ever been bored during a presentation? If so, why were you bored? Other than the topic, most people become bored because of a lack of voice inflection by the speaker.

In fitness, many instructors use one of two extreme methods of cueing: monotone (which many find boring) or loud and brash (which can be alarming or irritating). While militant cueing might be appropriate for a boot camp-style class, most classes work better with a moderate style of cueing that incorporates different pitch tones. Voice inflection strengthens an instructor’s skillset and makes the workout more enjoyable and engaging.

The voice you use as an instructor should, of course, be a reflection of your personality, but it’s also an effective way to set the tone for the class. A quiet, peaceful voice is more appropriate for a stretch or yoga class, while a cheerleading or upbeat delivery works better for higher-intensity classes.

How can you improve your voice inflection? Here are some ideas to help you get started:

  • Film your class and rate your performance. Do you like what you heard?
  • Take classes from a variety of instructors. What did you like? What did you dislike? What instructors did you gravitate toward?
  • Join a speech class or meet-up group like Toast Masters.

Nonverbal Cueing

Nonverbal cueing uses all or parts of your body to instruct a movement. For example, while instructing a plank you can demonstrate the difference between a “perfect” plank versus an out-of-alignment plank.

Hand movements also aide in cueing, and can be used to indicate directional movements and alignment corrections (e.g., pointing in the direction you want your clients to move).

Visualization Cueing

Visualization cueing integrates outside thoughts or concepts into your class. This enhances movement along with visualization.

Here is an example of how you can utilize visualization techniques to guide your participants through the bird-dog exercise:

“Come onto all fours, with your hands under the shoulders and knees under the hips. Extend the right leg toward the wall behind and lift your left arm to shoulder height. Your thumb should face the ceiling and your foot should remain flexed. Imagine your right heel underneath a tabletop. Think about it slightly pressing into the bottom of a table. This ensures that you contract and recruit your gluteal muscles.”

This style of cueing also works well with nonverbal cueing. Here is an example of how you can combine visual and nonverbal cueing to instruct an appropriately aligned cross-legged seated posture:

“Sit in a comfortable seated posture. Imagine a string drawing you up from the crown of the head so that you position yourself in a neutral spine.” (While you verbally cue this, use your hand to “pull” a string from the crown of the head and lifting upward.)

Improving your cueing technique requires continual practice, both in class and on your own.  Over time, your classes will improve and your participants will undoubtedly reap the benefits of the enhanced experience you are able to provide.   

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