This section of my website used to be dedicated to triathlon training, personal race results and certification reviews, like Turbo Kick. I am expanding it to include more generic health & fitness topics. Also, I talk a lot about "D" -- he's my husband (Dave Liu)!

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Group Exercise Motivational Cues

The following is a section called "Watch Your Words" from an old Reebok Alliance catalog. It helps group exercise instructors select appropriate motivational phrases. The idea is to replace critical cues with body-positive cues:

Critical Cues

  • I feel fat.
  • Let's make your thighs lean.
  • Were you "bad" at dinner last night?
  • Burn those buns!
  • Burn more calories like this.
  • She has a flabby gut.
  • This move zaps cellulite.
  • You could lose fat from your arms.
  • Watch your abs.
  • You need to lose about 30 lbs.
  • Let's target your trouble spots.

Body-Positive Cues

  • I feel strong.
  • Feel how strong your quads are.
  • I hope you fueled up to work out.
  • Feel the power in your glutes.
  • Enjoy the challenge of this intensity.
  • I love her charisma.
  • It feels so good to dance.
  • We can improve your strength over all.
  • Notice how good this move feels.
  • We're going to energize you.
  • Think of your body as balanced.

Fellow Turbo Kick instructor Linda Ross provided helpful commentary to "Watch Your Words":

Vogel (2003) wrote a masters thesis investigating how participants respond to their instructors. She found that most women unfavorably compared their bodies to their instructors' and felt demotivated when they heard her make image-conscious comments like, "This workout will help you lose weight" or "This move will prep your butt for a bikini."
While instructors are powerful role models, they might also be the industry's most dangerous weapon for those struggling with poor self-image. And an instructor wrestling with body issues can be a double whammny. I wasn't aware of this, but according to one study, (Olson, 2002), many instructors have dramatically worse body images than non-instructors--despite the fact that the instructors in this study were much leaner than non-instructors (16 to 18% body fat vs. 22%). Heaner suggests that the fitness industry may actually be CAUSING some of these's very much a chicken-egg thing.
It IS the instructor's responsibility to promote positive body images. That's why we NEED instructors of all shapes and sizes to model fitness as a lifestyle, not a look.
According to Heaner, "Our main mission as fitness educators is to give others emotional strength--to make them feel loved. That way they don't feel like everything depends on how they look."

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