By Luciana Marcial-Vincion, Manager for the Global Spinning® Master Instructor Team | South Carolina, United States
“Go!” “Push it!” “You can do it!” “C’mon!” “Whoohooo!” Sound familiar? It’s very common for instructors to get stuck saying the same things over and over again, class after class. If you’ve become aware that you’re repeating yourself, believe me, your students knew long ago.
We all want to be great with our instructional language. We want commanding cues. But where does rock-solid cueing come from? Is there a secret to creating impactful language? The good news is that with a bit of creativity, instructors can learn to bring more captivating cueing into their coaching.
The Spinning® program is rooted in powerful language. New instructors are introduced to this philosophy in the Spinning Instructor Manual—remember the examples listed on the Energy Zone™ pages?
Listen and Learn
Luckily, there are some simple things you can do to develop more effective cues. Here are some simple suggestions to increase your knowledge base:
- Take indoor cycling classes with other instructors. Whether they are classes at your club or at a conference, hearing how others cue pedal stroke or climbing skills can give you some solid ideas.
- Explore other types of fitness classes—yoga, martial arts, kickboxing, Pilates or any other type of group fitness class. It will open your mind and expose you to new ways of saying things.
- The more you know about the sport, the more you can speak the language. Read cycling books and magazines, peruse cycling websites, or participate in a benefit ride. Embrace the culture of the sport and your mind will fill up with coaching ideas and language.
- Take Spinning Continuing Education courses. Spinning live workshops are always guaranteed to provide a healthy dose of new cues.
Now, getting a bunch of new cues from someone else might help fill the bucket, but it is just a start. When we repeat things verbatim that others say the impact is lost. Cues must come from a place that is personal, natural and comfortable for you; otherwise you risk sounding like you’re reading from a script.
Create Your Own Cues
The next step is to learn how to carve out your own cues. One of the easiest strategies is to start exploring how to say the same thing in different ways.
Let’s take one of the most common cues heard in a Spinning class: “Relax your shoulders.” Come up with 10 other words that have a similar effect as the word “relax.” How about soften, smooth, ease, release, relieve, sigh, unwind, diminish, reduce and settle? Now, with a little creativity, we can put these new words to work:
Invite ease into your neck.
Release the shoulder blades into your back pockets.
Breathe a sigh of serenity into the shoulders.
Allow the neck and shoulders to unwind.
Reduce tension in the shoulder girdle with a deep, cleansing breath.
Let tranquility settle into your shoulders.
Now let’s get really creative with another very common cue: “Feel the music.”
Immerse yourself in rhythm.
Allow the guitar to drive your pace.
Embrace your own dance.
Surround your body with the drums.
Unwind. Unleash. Uncover your natural rhythm.
Marry music and movement—let the sounds lift you!
How about the word “strong?” Here are a few options to consider instead: tenacious, steadfast, determined, resolute, unwavering, unyielding, uncompromising, firm, immovable, stable, unshakeable…and the list goes on.
One final tip is to borrow from the great visionary leaders, poets and musicians. Use them as inspiration and quote them in class. Bruce Lee said, “Be like water.” Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”
Remember, our words convey messages and evoke emotion, so choose your cues carefully. You will notice that the more powerful language you employ, the less you will have to say, thus giving your students time to actually assess your instruction and then implement it. It is better to have fewer cues with greater impact than too many cues with little or no substance.
For the Love of Language
Oliver Wendell Holmes may have said it best, “Speak clearly, if you speak at all; carve every word before you let it fall.” Effective cueing comes from a combination of increasing your knowledge base, learning from others, and reaching outside your language comfort zone. Instructors dedicate much time and effort toward developing their music libraries and profile libraries. Dedicating the same efforts toward developing an expansive language library will render a more comprehensive and fulfilling class experience for students.