Are you an ‘Inspirational Coach’? Do you inspire, motivate, educate and coach a whole room of people at the same time? You do and you must is the answer. I’m sure for most of you this will merely be a reminder not anything new. By ensuring a solid foundation is built into your skill set using the coaching sequence you will be worthy of the title ‘Inspirational Coach’.
What is the Coaching Sequence?
The coaching sequence for many GroupEx teachers is a value belief that they live by and teach by. To stand out from the crowd it must become part of our inner ID to be unconsciously evident in class. It’s what I call your ‘presence’. By taking yourselves on the journey from conscious incompetence, the stage where you are consciously working on your coaching skills, to unconscious competence where your interaction and connection with your individual members is natural and part of your personality. It becomes a trait not an effort. As a reminder follow the coaching sequence.
The sequence has a number of layers that you have to consistently apply. Take responsibility for the members you coach, for their accomplishments, enjoyment and for their health and well-being.
Firstly the coaching sequence requires you to have excellent form yourself. During your training you should be taught and learn the science of movement (Kinesiology) and be able to move displaying excellent static and dynamic posture across all modes of exercise. This takes years of work. You should be able to move well through choreographed sequences in all planes of movement, through functional resistance training/body conditioning exercises, poses, flexibility training to name just a few modes. Any form of exercise you teach must be executed correctly. You are the expert!
I see many teachers with form that is poor or is not as correct as it should be. Would you take advice from any professional who was second best? Of course not. So why should you expect your class members too?
The time to practice your own form is when you are not teaching. You also must have a sound anatomical knowledge, understand the kinetic chain and understand movement patterns. This requires studying anatomy & kinesiology as your bread and butter, not just during your training. There are many apps available to help you keep this up. Try MB Anatomy 3D by Real Body Works.
Apply anatomical knowledge to your own movement. Video yourself, get in front of mirrors, analyse your movement and feedback to yourself. This will really help.
2. Inspirational Choreography
There are two aspects to your choreography. One of which often takes second place to the other.
The first goal with choreography is to effectively achieve the principles of training through movement. i.e. if we take a fitness goal for your class such as ‘maximum calories out’ for the next 12 weeks for weight loss, then your choreography needs to achieve this physiological goal through the correct intensity of the movement. It’s not what you do but how you do it. This can take on many forms such as interval training as outlined below.
High Intensity Interval Training, commonly referred to as HIIT would be an example. There are many applications of this. Tabata training which is short 20:10 second blocks, repeated 8 times (not rocket science I know) or lactate tolerance training on 3:1 minute intervals are both examples that sit under the HITT title.
Your job is to achieve this level of work and rest through your choreography. In the work stage movement must executed at the highest intensity, not short small steps and in the rest phase the movement is less intense. This must be achieved for everyone in the group. Not an easy task for a full room. The secret is to ensure that the size of movement for everyone in class achieves the correct physiological goal at the correct time.
If you can inspire that with your choreography you will get results. So whatever the fitness goal is the choreography should reflect it. This is often neglected at the expense of remembering over complicated choreography.
Second, your choreography needs to be motivational and inspiring and set to music. It must also match your ability to build the combinations in class so that everyone can follow. Whether this is ‘add on’, chorus verse, pre-choreographed, layered or continuous you need to know your music and fit your choreography to it to build the movement patterns successfully so that everyone can follow. This again takes a lot of time and practice. I often see on my travels teachers using choreography that is more advanced than their skill to deliver it, leaving class members lost and de-motivated. A good teacher uses verbal and visual cues to communicate the choreography and builds it with flow, balance and movement sense.
3. Connection Cueing
Group connection is vital. If you cannot connect with individuals in your group then you can’t coach and inspire, you will merely only lead. Without the connection you have made the choice to merely lead your group not coach them. Connection cueing is a vital skill.
Set-up cues are the first initial instructions that you use to set up a movement, a combination or an exercise. They need to be clear simple instructions that tell a class member what the move is going to be, set position, which direction, how many and when etc. Use verbal and visual cues with non-technical language. You can use count ins, association cues, directional cues, hand signals and body postures to assist.
Follow Up Cues & Education
These take a number of forms. When you repeat the exercise or combination a second time you can teach the class member how you would like the move executed using good form and why. This can include, precision, intensity, depth, posture, breathing and control. You are a coach and if you went to a swim coach you would expect them to tell you how to swim a stroke. It is no different for a group exercise teacher. The follow up cues are vital. Look at your class members and say to yourself, “what would they benefit from me telling them that would help them get perfect form and the best out of this movement or exercise”. Use this as your follow up cue. Emphasise it both visually and verbally.
4. Movement Correction
This is the difference between leading a class and being a teacher. Whether you call it CRC, as in a Les Mills module, or whether you undertake it silently as a Dance teacher would or a Zumba teacher, it is a vital part of your skill set. Through this you can effectively correct a movement pattern, ensure safety and good form in your class members ensuring they get the best out of the exercise. It also means that your members will maintain good kinetic chain function every time they move.
This should be clearly distinguishable to your class members and use different language from cues.
Firstly ‘connect’ with your member by making eye contact, smiling, and indicating a change by using ‘two words’ only. This is body part and direction. At the same time give a visual demonstration yourself by emphasizing your body part and the direction. i.e. chest lifted, pointing to your breastbone and elevating it. Promoting change in our class members encourages them to achieve positive physical results. This is your responsibility. I can always tell a participant who has been to an inspirational teacher from their form and movement quality.
Its important class members know why they are working what they are working. Towards the end of your repeats of choreography in a track, perhaps, 3rd or 4th time of a patter just use motivational statements, let your personality run free and encourage them to ‘burn those calories’ or ‘work those glutes’.
Its important that your personality comes out and that you carry your class members with you to the end. You don’t want them to be thinking about those emails or shopping list. Retain their focus on their workout right to the end so they finish on a high
6. Be Inspirational
If you do all of the above every time you teach a GroupEx class you will inspire your members to keep exercising and keep them wanting more. You can’t fail to be the teacher/coach you want to be and they all want to workout with. Don’t let your self down by only leading your group. Get involved! Coach! Be Inspirational!
If you want to learn how to apply the coaching sequence join the Drummond Education team on the Exercise To Music (GroupEx) course. Dates are available throughout the year in all of our venues.