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  • Matt Ferrara BS C.S.C.S

Stop Over Cueing Your Clients



I used to work in a gym where if I wasn’t constantly giving cues I was considered to be not doing my job.


In fact, at one point I was specifically told I needed to be cueing my clients the entire time.


This is not my coaching style now, and it wasn’t back then. But I valued my job and the good more than outweighed the bad. I had plenty of far worse working situations before this, and the pay wasn’t terrible.


I was expected to lead my clients through every rep of every exercise, constantly giving verbal and tactile cues to guide their movement and performance.


This helped me as a coach quite a bit. I over analyzed basic movements such as a split squat on a daily basis and picked them apart down to the minute details.


It was absolutely exhausting, but I learned a lot.


How did my clients do?


Well, the answer to that depends on who you talk to.


Stop With The Hand Holding


While working at this facility I helped a lot of people correct their poor movement mechanics and get out of pain.


However, thinking back, I really don’t think I helped these people that much.


You see, these clients had been coming to that facility long before I had gotten there. And to let you in on a little secret, they will continue to be there long after I left.


Why is that?


They were dependent on their trainers.


We weren’t necessarily teaching good movement patterns so much as guiding our clients through them. Not to toot our own horns too much, but we were pretty damn good coaches so these clients were basically like a puppet on a string.


“Turn your back foot in, ribs down, exhale, reach, find your big toe, pull with your heel…”

I wouldn’t have been able to remember that many instructions in a row if I was the client walking into a gym on my own. I knew for a fact that when these clients weren’t with me they couldn’t either.


There had to be a better way.



Fast Forward A Few Years...


Now I work at a facility that encourages educating clients and helping them achieve independence.


We staff the facility during coaching hours for those that need or want help during their training sessions, and leave it non staffed with 24/7 access the rest of the time.


During our staffed coaching hours, coaches circulate the gym to assist clients as needed.

We provide coaching through verbal, tactile, and visual feedback when necessary.


However, most importantly, we also let our clients struggle a little bit within the confines of a safe environment.


Let me give you an example.


One of our members had a barbell back squat in her program for the first time the other day. I gave her a brief demonstration of the movement, and gave her some key things to focus on relating to the previous squat patterns we have worked on.


We set up the empty bar in the rack and I let her get to it.


How was the first rep?


Pretty ugly.


The second was the same way, but she already started to realize what mistake she had made. Without me even saying anything, she corrected and moved on with better reps for the rest of the set.


The safe environment had already been created by the previous experience she had squatting with alternative exercises and the presence of a qualified coach.


Letting her “fail” the first couple of reps and then fix it on her own allowed her to learn the movement as opposed to simple copying my cues and demonstrations.


It brings a sense of autonomy to the learning process that drastically increases the effectiveness of training.



A Good Learning Environment Is A Good Coaching Environment.


Good coaching is simply becoming an expert in a certain craft and then providing a safe and engaging environment for others to learn in.


By creating this environment, you are also creating a space for people to learn and develop in. That's what you pay for when you sign a contract at a good gym. It's not the equipment or showers or on site parking that you are paying for. It is an environment that demands success and provides an opportunity for growth and exploration.


That is the cost of your gym membership.


That is good coaching.


Send me an email if you're interested in seeing what this is all about.

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