Fitness: How to Give Visual and Verbal Cues During Aerobics Routines

D. Moss, Editor

While leading aerobics classes, do your students have trouble following your lead? Do they frequently stop when you make transitions to new movements or continue performing the same exercise after you've changed to something new?

If so, try making better use of visual and verbal cues. Here are some tips.

What Cues Can Indicate

You can use verbal and visual cues to indicate:

  • What to do—for example, the name of the next movement.
  • When to stop a movement and start a new one.
  • How many repetitions to do and how many are left to perform.
  • How to perform a movement—for example, technique reminders.
  • What direction to move. 
  • What speed to perform the movements.
    Using Verbal Cues to Signal the Transition to a New Movement

    Using Verbal Cues to Signal the Transition to a New Movement

Tips for Verbal Cues

Verbal cues are great for giving some warning that a new movement is about to begin. When using verbal cues for movement transitions, employ consistent language.

For example, “OK, just five to go, then we'll do knee lifts…five, four three, two, one more… OK, knee-lifts!” By using the same phrasing for each transition, your students will always know what to expect.

Verbal cueing is most effective if you keep your phrases concise. For example, “Ten butt-kicks,” is better than “Ten repetitions of kicking your heels behind you until they touch your back-side.” Students often don't listen to (or can't hear) a long list of instructions during a routine.

Tips for Visual Cues

Visual cues are great for indicating the direction in which to move, the number of reps until completion and technical pointers. They are especially good when the music is loud, the class is very large and/or when you want to give your voice a rest.

For example, to indicate the last five reps in an exercise, hold your hand up in the air and fold your fingers one at a time (as each rep is performed) until only your fist is showing.

Using Hand Signals to Improve the Transition to a New Movement

Using Hand Signals to Improve the Transition to a New Movement
To show forward movements, point both index fingers forward. To indicate backward movement, point both thumbs over your shoulder. To show clockwise movement around the gym circle your hand in that direction. To stop the routine, hold your palm out or use both hands to make a referee's time-out signal.

You can also emphasize correct technique by pointing to areas of concern. For example indicate pelvic tilt by pointing to your pelvis and tilting it, or point to your knees to show correct knee bend. By pointing to an individual student or just by establishing eye-contact, you can provide individualized feedback during the routine.

Your students may have difficulty interpreting these signs at first, but they'll quickly learn their meaning and you'll find they produce a much smoother class. And inventing these cues will make the class more fun and challenging for you.

Reference: Terri L. Thompson, “Fitness dance: verbal and visual cueing.” Dance Teacher Now, October 1991.

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