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How to Provide Group Exercise Cues That Stick with Members

Fitness instructor sharing group exercise cues that stick

As a fitness instructor, are you ever worried that you sound like the teacher from Charlie Brown when you share group exercise cues with your class? While you’re up in front of the members teaching each exercise, do they only hear “wah wah”? It can be tricky to teach the workout using correct information without feeling like you’re spouting off jargon. One way that I’ve been able to keep members engaged is to connect my cues with everyday activities they can relate to in a creative or quirky way.

Here are three of examples of fun, out-of-the-box group exercise cues that are relatable to most members.

“The toaster oven”

Sometimes I’ll use the imagery of an oven to help explain form to participants. For example, we’ll do an abdominal and shoulder exercise where we lay on our backs holding a dumbbell in each hand, with all of our limbs are pulled in tight like a bug on its back. Then, we’ll press our arms and legs away from each other, arms coming up overhead and legs extending out low to the floor. To explain that I want this to be a pressing motion instead of a lower and lift, I’ll say the following,

“Bring your arms and legs in tight like a ball and then push your arms and legs away from each, extending into a shallow V. Pretend you’re in a toaster oven on your back and you don’t want to burn your arms or legs, so keep them low.”

“Dusting tables”

After doing some challenging back work with weights, I’ll sometimes have the class do another set of back without weights just to add a little more oomph to the workout. I’ll ask participants to bend at the hips, so they’re in position to do bent over rows, but I’ll ask them to extend their arms to the sides in the shape of a capital “T”, using just their bodyweight to challenge them. Then, we’ll go through a series of small movements, for example,

“Move your hands so that they’re parallel and facing the floor. From here, I want you to move your hands a few inches forward and a few inches back, like as if you were trying to dust two tables at once. I’m sure if you could be anywhere else right now, it would be cleaning your house.”

“Competing with your best friend”

We all have that one friend, sibling or coworker that bring out our competitive nature. Right before a cardio interval, I’ll tell the class something like this,

“Picture your best friend right beside you, egging you on. You’re going to race them through this interval. Don’t let them beat you!”

These group exercise cues will usually get a few smiles or chuckles in class. Of course, you’ll want to use cues that feel natural to you and your teaching style. But, you’ll want to make sure your cues are engaging and entertaining for participants.

For more tips, check out the fitness motivation and cueing page.