The Squirrel Effect In Fitness Classes

Are you calling out SQUIRREL!!! in class?

There I was, enjoying another instructor's class JRA (just riding along) in my own little zoned out world. I get that way often, when I'm aerobic and don't have to focus on teaching. It's typical for this to happen to me in a class where the instructor tends to offer too much... of everything.

Too much droning, unrecognizable fitness music.

Too much explanation.

Too much encouragement.

Too much talking/chatter... period.

So I tune them out and ride by myself until I hear the Instructor yell "SQUIRREL" and I snap back to reality. OK, they don't exactly say "SQUIRREL" but they may as well have.

I can't repeat them verbatim, but it sounds something like this to me; "Blah blah blah, blah blah Mitochondria blah blah blah. Blah blah blah, blah blah blah blah blah blah Shoulders blah blah blah.Blah blah blah, blah blah blah blah blah blah Blah blah blah, RPE of 7 blah blah blah blah blah blah Blah blah blah, blah blah blah Scrape Mud blah blah blah Blah blah blah, blah blah blah blah Hand Position Three blah blah Blah blah blah, blah blah blah blah blah blah Blah blah blah, blah blah blah blah blah blah RECOVER!!!

My head pops up. Did she just say "SQUIRREL"?  "What were we doing?" "Did I miss an interval?"

If you're missing my "SQUIRREL" reference, the Disney movie UP includes dogs who can talk, courtesy of a special collar they wear. A running joke throughout the movie how easily the dogs are distracted by one of them calling out "SQUIRREL". Regardless of the seriousness of the conversation or situation, inevitably there's a "SQUIRREL"  moment where everyone snaps to attention and scans for something furry to chase. Here's a clip.

There are certain words you may use in class that are the equivalent to "SQUIRREL" for humans, when thrown out between an endless string of chatter. Many I'll bet you use frequently; Recover, Go, Up, Down, FTP, Zone 3, Add a gear, Attack, Stand, Smooth, Breath and Climb to name a few. Notice that they describe something specific you'd like me to do. Don't get me wrong here, all of these words are perfectly fine to use in your class - just as long as you aren't inserting them into an endless string of blah blah blah's.

So what's the solution?

Please learn to be OK with silence 🙂 Understand that less is more in many situations. I'll bet that your class would be perfectly fine with you telling them to work for three minutes @ threshold and for you to ride along quietly with them until near the end. "Thirty seconds... Just ten... Recover."

Are you OK with silence? This maybe another great reason to record yourself teaching and listen for times when you don't speak - or maybe discover that you have a little bit too much blah blah blah in your class that ends with a "SQUIRREL".

This interview with communication expert Alexa Fischer may give you some additional ideas on what you should be listening for, in a recording of your class.






Originally posted 2014-04-09 09:54:07.

Latest posts by John (see all)

Add Your Thoughts...