Video yourself teaching an absolute beginner an exercise for the first time and use it for review. Analyze:
1. How many things did you say about the exercise as you were teaching it, before they attempted?
2. Did you say anything during their very first attempt?
3. What did you say immediately following their very first attempt?
4. Once they started repping, how many things did you say, and what did you say?
Many trainers who do this for the first time realize they said way too much vs. being concise, focused and straightforward. My underlying assumption I carry for ALL trainers is that they have the best intentions. This would be a case of having the best intentions, and in most cases even some great exercise knowledge, but all too often do I encounter the trainer who doesn't really understand HOW to teach.
The problem is, a lot of trainers say too much for any individual to process over a very short time span of a minute or two, and so instead of the client choosing which they relate to and understand the best, they cannot retain any of it and will more than likely be left feeling overwhelmed. We then run the risk of the "this fitness stuff is not for me" attitude.
BPFA has developed a system for teaching any exercise in the most straightforward, safe and confidence-building manner. It's actually taken directly from my higher level education in, well.... education. It looks like this (and of course there's an entire session on this system at our workshop in February!):
Choose ONLY three cues, less than 10 words each (this will vary based on the individual, fitness level, experience and physical abilities).
Use the following drill down to determine what those cues will be:
First- what makes this exercise the most *safe*.
Second- what makes this exercise focus deliberately on the intended muscle groups worked. *activation*
Third- what makes this exercise *optimal* for this individual.
Safety, activation, optimization.
In teaching a beginner, your three chosen cues should fall under first priority- safety. As someone becomes more experienced and is mastering the basics aka the safety of the exercise, then it is up to you, the trainer, to determine the next tier of cues which will fall between activation and optimization.
However, sometimes different cues resonate with different people. This doesn't mean throw out all 50 cues you know out all at the same time. Just like we preach to our clients to stick with something consistently before analyzing results, commit to your three cues for the entire session. When you debrief your session or sessions for the day, acknowledge what worked and what didn't, and tweak from there. The worst that can happen is that your client spends an entire session learning what doesn't work for them- which results in greater appreciation and understanding once they understand what *does* work. And since safety is your number one priority, no one is going to get hurt. Because you'll stop them if you see anything dangerous.
So there you have it. It's basic, but so intricate. To learn more about how to directly apply this, get lots of hands on practice, and learn the subtle secrets about how to make this work for your clients and your practice, come out so SoCal in February. See you there!
And if you're not already a member of our BPFA Professional Resources group and you believe that fitness should be more inclusive, accessible and approachable for all people, what are you waiting for? Join!