Cueing Hierarchy: Organizing and Prioritizing Thoughts into Words

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Diversifying and organizing verbal cues is a close second to planning your class choreography. Words have a direct impact on movement. Cohesive verbal cues provide for a safer, more effective, and smooth flowing class. But with so much to say, how can we as instructors organize and prioritize our thoughts? Here are a few guidelines and recommendations to help your classes flow smoothly.

First, it is important to SET UP the class. Learn how to switch from the current exercise to the move you want to do next. Keep the transition quick, seamless and smooth. Cues, in this set up category, need to be action oriented, direct and to the point. They include only the most vital alignment cues while leaving the rest of the words for the action about to take place. Avoid “filler” words during your set up such as “now we’re going to” or “ok next let’s.” Filler words eat up precious transition time and add no value to the movement.

After the setup, it’s time to ALIGN. Head to toe alignment cueing can be applied to all exercises, regardless of where the movement is taking place. The ears in relation to the shoulders, the shoulder in relation to the hips, the hips in relation to the knees, the knees in relation to the toes – all of these nuances make for a safer and more effective workout.

Now that you’ve got your class lifting, bending or squeezing and in proper form, begin connecting the mind with the body. CLARIFY to your students what they are doing and why. Review the intended muscles being engaged, discuss where the movement should be happening and where it should not. Create imagery to tap deeper into the action. Revisit step two, align, as necessary.

By this point it’s the end of the series and the class is in need of a pick me up. From our facial expressions to the tones in our voice, we all have many ways to MOTIVATE our classes. Evoke emotion like “I know you have it in you”. Use the space you’re in. Walk over to the person who thinks they are unnoticed in that corner of the classroom. Take your personality a little outside of your own comfort zone and turn that “umph” into “triumph”.

It’s important to note, although MODIFICATIONS are last to be mentioned, they are our “wild card.” Sometimes they are needed towards the start of an exercise, especially when we know we have mixed levels in the room, and other times we use them at the end when fatigue sets in. Providing modifications, or options as we like to call it, keeps your entire class feeling included. Many group fitness classes, especially those using music, move at a quicker pace and provide little to no breaks. We want all our students to feel a part of the class and able to accomplish a great workout. Make sure you’re giving those options even when no one is asking to create a welcoming environment.

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