You Can Do It But Can Ya Cue It
Unfortunately everyone has had to cut a workout short after an “Oh! That hurt!” moment. Even people who aren’t trying to ‘feel the burn’ or ‘crush it’ can have the misfortune of suddenly feeling “not right” while working out. How much responsibility should a trainer assume for their client’s workout experience? While they strive to offer injury-free fitness, how far can they go to ensure they deliver just that? Are they off the hook when their medium is video?
When training one on one with a client, they have the best chance of giving a thorough workout that won’t require pain relievers or rehab. If you put that same trainer in front of a class, the odds go up that someone won’t see the correct position, or perform it properly and tweak a joint or strain a muscle. True, in class a trainer can look out over the bodies in motion and see someone whose form is flagging and call out, “Phil! You’re done, catch your breath!” But when a trainer is delivering a workout via video, there is substantial risk of remote user injury because they’re not being monitored and corrected by a professional as they interpret the trainer’s instruction and perform the moves.
That’s why during rehearsals, our oft repeated Mega Mace credo is “Cue for the blind”. Seriously, someone without sight should be able to workout along to a well-cued exercise video. And that’s because even if the camera captures a trainer’s perfect form, people often have to look away from the screen. Even if they’re watching closely, there is a lot of benefit to auditory reinforcement of what they’re seeing so that they can properly replicate the move.
In Patrick Allan’s LifeHacker.com article The Most Common Exercise Injuries (and how to prevent them) he hits the nail squarely on the head, “(Injury)…is especially common among novice exercisers who don’t have enough experience to know how they should feel during and after a training session and therefore don’t recognize the signals that they are doing too much. Poor technique is another major factor that contributes to injuries during exercise.”
There are a lot of great personal trainers out there, but so few great video trainers because cueing is a specific skill. Cueing is in addition to knowing what moves will deliver results. Cueing is beyond knowing how to design an effective and engaging workout. Cueing incorporates an awareness of the information that needs to be imparted to the viewer and knowledge of the descriptive vocabulary to deliver the information. Oh, and make it make it brief, and easy to remember, and motivational and…you get the point. Good cueing is not easy. It takes practice.
A lot of thought needs to go into cueing. Before a director calls “Action” the trainer needs to have planned exactly what to say, when, and selected the most impactful words to convey precisely what they need to. What is the correct word for the movement? When cueing a Lat Row, the word for the specific movement is “Lift”, not “Get em up!” or even “Row!” But that’s not all, once a trainer has conveyed how to do the more properly, clarification for safety should be followed for what not to do, “Be sure not to yank, or recruit your neck muscles.”
Working on proper cueing is time well-spent for every trainer, but critical if they’re going to step in front of a camera. In an effort to grow as professionals, trainers would reap big benefits if they practiced cueing regularly.