Top 10 Tips From Us to You

10 experienced Jazzercise instructors share their advice for recently-certified instructors.

10. Don’t worry if you make mistakes.  Chances are, your clients won’t know.

9. Practice cuing, and cue the movements in advance.

8. Make eye contact. Smile.

7. Engage with others in class.

6. Attend other instructors’ classes for ideas.

5. Know your music.

4.  Be humble.

3. Be yourself.

2. Be prepared.

1. Have fun!

 

 

Formulating Effective Abdominal Workouts

The results are in from the Two-Days-Before-Turkey-Day Poll: Majority of instructors voted that they were focusing on the abdominals in classes during the week of Thanksgiving.  (Click here to view the original poll and results.)

I often receive requests from my clients for challenging abdominal routines, and therefore, I feel motivated to vary these routines as often as possible in my classes.  But this is sometimes a challenge in itself.   More than any other muscle group, I feel that the abdominals are the most difficult to vary movements with, especially with so many veteran clients in my classes.

Reaching out other sources can be a huge assistance, so here is one resource from an expert on the topic.  Nicole Dorsey-Straff, exercise physiologist, gives her top ten tips for working the abdominals.  Not only does she list some sample movements at the end of the article, but she gives some information that can be utilized in your cuing for the abdominals as well.  Check out the article from Fitness Magazine here.

Overworking? Rest Can Be the Key to Success

Have you found yourself subbing for other instructors recently?  Are you teaching more classes lately than you are accustomed to?  With all the chaos that the month of December brings to our personal lives, we might find ourselves working twice as hard to substitute for instructors when needed.  Our flexibility and willingness to help out is important to the success of our clients and our business.  However, in taking on more classes than our bodies can handle, we can cause ourselves injuries from overworking, often unknowingly.  One of the more common injuries among frequent exercisers, and one that I can personally relate to, is shin splints.

Shin splints are brought on by high-impact movements, such as running or any kind of aerobic exercise that includes running, jumping, etc.  A sudden change in one’s exercise routine can trigger them.  A few years ago, I began to feel pain in my shins after adding two extra classes per week to my teaching schedule.  The biggest mistake that I made, however, was that I continued to follow this schedule after I began to feel the shin splints.  Resting is crucial for both the prevention and care of shin splints, as this article, “How To Prevent Shin Splints,” from ACE Fitness, points out.  Whether you have had a history of the injury, or simply need a small reminder to take care of your shins, this article provides some expert advice.  Check it out, and remember to take a few minutes for your health this time of year.  Stretch, drink plenty of water, and get plenty of rest.

 

Why We Should Love to Dance

I know there are many instructors out there who teach dance-inspired fitness classes, and we can’t deny that our clients love it.  Dance is anything but boring.  We do not only listen to motivating, upbeat music that drives the heart rate through the roof; we match our moves to those beats, and we’re having so much fun that an hour is over before we know it.

But there are so many more benefits to dance besides the fun factor.  Have you ever considered the mental benefits of dancing for your workout?  I thought I would share an article from Women’s Health Magazine that encourages everyone, regardless of skill, to get on the floor to dance as exercise.  Check it out for yourself, and then remember to share some of these benefits with your clients.  They already know they are doing their body a favor, but they might not be aware of the workout the brain receives when they come to class.

Here is the link to the page, “Get Into the Groove: The Benefits of Dance” on the Women’s Healthy Magazine website.  E-mail this article, post it on your Facebook page, or share some of these facts in class.  Your clients will appreciate it.

Two-Days-Before-Turkey-Day Poll

It is already the third week in November, and our pre-Thanksgiving Day workout classes have begun! I am thankful for Jazzercise and all of our dedicated clients who inspire and motivate me to keep dancing every day.

In honor of Turkey Day this Thursday, let’s take a vote: What muscle groups will your class be thankful to work this week? Please cast your vote below, and look out for a follow-up after the results are in.

Thank you, and have a happy Thanksgiving!

Tips to Shine As An Instructor With Your Own Q&A

I came across a blog post by Samantha Clayton on mygroupfit.com, and I just had to share it.  This article raises some tips that are applicable to each and every group fitness class, from yoga, to Jazzercise, to spin, and everything in between.  Here are 3 questions that this article raises that I find the most important to consider.

1.  Are we passionate?  First and foremost, we need to love what we are doing.  Exuding excitement for our program is like saying, I enjoy this workout, and so can you.  For our clients, getting into an exercise routine is all about finding something they like and will stick with.  It’s up to us to show them how much fun this can be.

2.  Do we come to class prepared?  It’s true that many of us are not full-time group fitness instructors, like the professional choreographer interviewed in this article.  We have other obligations — family, friends, even full-time jobs — that are major priorities.  However, when we arrive at class, our clients are our priority.  We must come ready to deliver the knowledge and expertise that our clients expect.  And this takes physical and mental preparation.

3.  Do we teach the class that we would want to attend?  Let’s put ourselves in the shoes of each one of our clients.  Are we helpful in addressing the class as a whole as well as individual needs?  Are we patient with new clients and praise effort, regardless of the individual’s skill and fitness level?  Do we engage them with each move, old and new?

Check out what Samantha Clayton has to say in her post, “3 secrets to becoming a star instructor,” in which she interviews professional choreographer, Neda Soderqvist.

Injury Prevention — Where Do We Begin?

We often think of injury prevention as a concept that begins when our clients walk in the doors.  We know that no matter what level of fitness they arrive with, it is our responsibility to ensure safety by teaching them how to execute movements correctly.  We put a lot of focus on effective cuing, verbal and non-verbal (see last week’s post here), in order to prevent injury.   And while this is extremely important, our clients’ safety actually begins before they even arrive at class with something that is difficult for us to monitor: Did they bring shoes that are safe to work out in?

Investing in new shoes can’t wait.  Do your clients know that shoes should be replaced after 100 hours of exercise in order to prevent injury?  This article from SparkPeople, “Find Your Solemate: The Perfect Shoe for Every Workout” provides an awesome visual guide to finding a shoe suited to your favorite type of exercise.  I recommend sharing this article on social media, via e-mail, etc. for your clients.

This week, having been bombarded with holiday promotional e-mails, I was tempted on several occasions to purchase new workout pants — the vibrant, funky ones that would match my turquoise Ryka shoes perfectly.  But then, before placing them in my shopping cart, I asked myself when I would need to buy new shoes.   Using my better judgment, I refrained from purchasing the fun pants to save money for new Rykas this winter.  And this afternoon, I’ll remind my class of the importance of this investment.

 

Brush Up On Your Cuing: Communicating With Your Hands

3 major ways of using non-verbal cues.

3 major ways of using non-verbal cues.

Non-verbal communication is a huge tool in communicating to our clients not only what to do, but how. Do not underestimate the power of using your hands when you teach. Non-verbal cues give us a chance to emphasize what we are saying without having to utter any more words – an extremely useful technique when we have so much to say and limited time to communicate it to our clients.

Here are some examples of how to incorporate non-verbal cues with your hands in an effective manner:

Use Directional Cues

When we are showing a new movement for the first time, there is often so much we want to describe to our clients. We want to tell them the name of the move, the number of counts, and where the move will travel. And sometimes, directional cues are not communicated as easily as “right” or “left.” Pointing in the direction we want our clients to travel, while so simple, is effective.  Pointing gets them moving in the right direction.

Create Intensity

What if we want our clients to put more energy behind their movements?  For instance, I want them to push off the floor more on their step-jumps.  I would use a verbal visual cue, such as create four inches of space between the floor and your feet, while holding up four fingers for emphasis.  This method allows us to emphasize our words without simply repeating them, saving us from sounding like a broken record.

Emphasize Your Words

Find ways to show what your feet are doing with your hands. I often point to the muscle that we are working, and then I demonstrate the different between pointing and flexing the feet with my palm. I emphasize the cue to put weight in the heels by pushing the heels of my hands down. Be creative, and remember that a short visual cue can work well with a verbal cue.

2 More Things To Remember

1.) Non-verbal cues are not to be used in place of a verbal cue.  Rather, they are used in addition to what you are saying to provide another way for your clients to understand the movement.

2) Non-verbal cues must be obvious enough for your clients in back row to see them, but they shouldn’t be distracting.  Particularly when you are demonstrating challenging movements with the feet, keep the hand signals short so they do not distract from the footwork.

Picture yourself attending a class with an instructor that you admire. What makes that instructor a good instructor? He or she most likely exhibits strong communication with the class that makes learning the movements easily understood and executed. He or she utilizes a variety of cues, including verbal and non-verbal. We often forget, however, that we have the tools to add this variety of cuing right at our fingertips (literally).

How do you use non-verbal communication in class?  Please leave your comments below.

For further tips on both verbal and non-verbal cuing, check out this article, “Effective Cuing,” from IDEA Health and Fitness Association.

Bring Back the Summer Sunshine and Class Attendance

Have you ever heard a client say that the hardest part of working out is getting to class?

I certainly have, and understandably. With the weather getting gloomy and the busy holiday season quickly approaching, it can be a struggle for our clients to continue their consistent workout regimen. It’s chilly and more difficult to get going in the mornings. It gets dark earlier. And in a month or so, our clients may be tempted to go straight home after work to avoid an evening snow shower instead of stopping by for class at 6 p.m. What we need is to build the excitement, and not just after our clients have walked through our doors. And how do we do this?

If you have never tried offering your clients some creative control with the content of your class, I highly recommend it. Ask your clients for their input: their favorite songs, routines, movements, etc. They will look forward to your upcoming classes knowing that they have contributed, and they’ll get to enjoy their favorites all over again.

I have tried this for classes on holidays and busy weekends with community events, etc. Clients will make the extra effort to get out of bed an hour earlier on a cold Saturday morning to come to class if they know “their song” is going to play. It even gives them a chance to connect and discuss some of their favorite songs and movements.

So after we decide to do this, how do we spread the word to our clients? There are 2 great approaches to getting the news out to our classes, and I recommend using both.

1.) Create a suggestion box to display at the facility. Make an announcement before or after class to encourage your clients to write down their favorites.

2.) Send an e-mail that offers to accept requests. Or, even better, utilize your facility’s social media sites so your clients can see what others have requested.

Though it’s not necessary to designate a particular day for honoring requests, you may find it helpful to target a specific class time that is likely to drop in attendance this time of year. Hold an All-Request Song Saturday, or a Throwback Thursday for some of their favorite “oldies.” Or ask your clients for their ideas.

Last week our Indian summer arrived here in northern Illinois, so what happened at Jazzercise class? Our class attendance went straight through the roof on those sunny-and-75 days. Unfortunately, as we know all too well, this wonderful weather doesn’t last at the end of October. The temperatures will drop sooner or later. BUT your attendance doesn’t have to. Allow your clients to make class their own and keep them coming all winter long.

What are your methods of keeping class attendance up?  Have you ever had your clients contribute to your class?  I’d love to hear all about it in the comments section below.

The I.C.F. Short-Term Motivation Method

Need to give your class that extra “push” at the end of class? Or at the end of a tough routine? Here are 3 tips that I have combined for providing short-term motivation.

Intonation: We’ve all heard this before: It’s not what we say, but how we say it. But did you know that words only account for 7% of our perceptions? According to this, 93% of our teaching is going to come across through our tone of voice, body language, facial expressions, etc. Knowing this, how can we adjust our teaching style accordingly? By expressing positivity throughout all of these means of communication.

Compliments: It’s amazing how something as simple as a compliment can change a person’s outlook. A compliment may be directed towards your class as a whole, or it can be to a specific individual. A little bit of positive motivation goes a long way towards getting through that tough routine.

Focus: I find that it helps immensely to provide customers with specific, short term goals. Direct their attention to a specific muscle group. Stress the importance of improving this area. Tell them exactly what to do to achieve the desired result. Focusing on a smaller goal as opposed to the general “Do this to be healthy” mindset allows customers to take baby steps – which improves self-efficacy and ultimately leads to a higher level of motivation.

Remember I.C.F. for your next class.