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, 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.