Tumble weeds. Crickets. Pins dropping. Deathly quiet.
Whatever you call it, SILENCE is rarely associated with positive, energetic things. For example, in my house if you can’t hear any of the four kids you need to find them asap because guaranteed they are getting into something they shouldn’t be. But I must admit I do enjoy the silence when they are asleep: we all love some peace and quiet to relax.
But relaxation isn’t what you are going for in a small group PT session – you need energy building, stimulating, upbeat, motivational noise. And that’s just for the warm up. In my experience, the number one killer of small group PT sessions is when the trainer stands in one spot and doesn’t say anything, or makes their way around the group and prompts the participants quietly one by one.
But you are not in a library. Nor are you calmly taking a guided meditation. You are pushing your clients to their best effort, encouraging them to make their lungs heave, their muscles burn, and to step outside their own comfort zone to the only place where their desired results can be achieved. How can you possibly do that in SILENCE?
I often speak to PT’s about this. And they come back to me with lots of excuses as to why they can’t talk more during a session. Are you guilty of thinking any of these?
Let me tell you, the first two are crap. NEVER have I EVER had a group work hard enough without encouragement, or get their form right 100% of the time. Even if they are getting their form right it means they probably aren’t working hard enough, and if they are working hard their form fails. Either way they need your help.
If you think there isn’t enough time between starting a round and counting down, you are also mistaken. It takes literally one second to say ‘Come on, push!’ And two seconds to say ‘Mary, lift your knees!’ What about ‘Rotate from the hips first Stewart, before you pull through. That’s better’. All of four seconds? You definitely have time to cue your clients.
And while I’m on the topic, you shouldn’t be wasting your breath on counting the group down to stop, they only use it as a way to get out of the last one or two reps in each round. Skip the countdown and add some motivational cues instead: one more repetition never hurt anyone, and in my humble opinion it actually helps them achieve their goals faster. What a surprise.
As for those PT’s who feel a bit awkward about continually talking throughout a circuit? I find that having a bit of a script helps to get over the nerves, just like the first few times you do a sales presentation. So here’s a formula that you can use to pump up the volume on your small group PT sessions and get your clients super excited about what they can achieve.
In every 45 second round of a circuit, you need to make 7 cues. Yes, SEVEN cues. That’s one every 6-7 seconds. Try these ideas.
Once you have practiced them a bit, it will flow more naturally. But even if you feel like you are being totally over the top, enough is never enough – pump up the energy another notch! Your clients will appreciate it and will be back for more, I guarantee it.
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Tristan Hill, Masters of Sports Coaching, author of Lifting the Bar and mentor to Personal Trainers.