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Aquatic Noodle Gym
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Taking Charge of Your Group

One of the most common topics of discussion at WaterART Fitness workshops is How can I get people to pay attention or stop talking during my class.   Many people NEED to socialize and interact with other people; especially those people who live alone. This may be their time out to meet and make friends in a non-threatening environment. Water exercise may be more social than land exercise or people may feel that they are simply young again.

There is no perfect formula for designing a "cohesive " group exercise  program.  But we need  people to become "regulars" at our aquatic fitness classes.

Working with a variety of skills and personalities may be a challenge for even the most seasoned instructors. It is OK (and natural) for people to talk from time to time during the program but you do not want constant chatter which makes it difficult to hear instruction. It is the job of  an instructor to set a friendly  atmosphere for the class but it is also that same  Instructor's job to keep people engaged and moving  to help everyone gain the most from each exercise by creating a positive and enjoyable experience . Yet so many instructors allow a few constant talkers to sabotage a program to negate this experience for the many.

One of the reasons people start talking is that they lose sight of the Instructor. An  Instructor should always maintain a teaching position facing the class to be able not only to see if the participants can follow the exercise demonstrations but also to incorporate more change of travel direction into every program. Don't let participants turn their backs to you. If the class has travelled forward then cue to walk backwards. Changing from walking forward to walking backwards uses the inertia current to immediately engage the core, challenge balance and begin strength training for the weak musculature that "follows" in forward movement.  This is functional training and a better use of valuable pool time. If you allow people to work with their back to you they cannot see what you are demonstrating so they loose focus and start to talk.

This is also a safety issue  You need to watch faces to see if anyone is  getting red in the face or growing pale, noticeably slowing down, grimacing or simply drifting into unconsciousness because of forgetting to take medication.  It is your responsibility as an instructor to pick up on any of these signs., which, if you have to compete with constant talking,  might go unnoticed.


Here are 10 more ideas that may help people get moving and not standing around and just chatting

Don't do the same program every time you teach the same class.  You can use the same moves but mix them up. If the participants know what is coming they don't need to pay attention.

# 2. Travel more - add travel patterns even if there is only room to take  a few steps in each direction.

Incorporate the inertia currents (see above mentioned benefit).  Try side to side - circles and diagonal movements  - stop suddenly to do a body posture check.   Talkers will get a surprise when the currents knock them off their feet!

#3. Use one move but change working position or put two or three moves together for a combination using 3 different working positions. Everyone must pay attention to the changes of the body positions create with the water. Neutral means no bouncing so anyone "caught " without their water necklace on or without their shoulders submerged may feel slightly embarrassed.

#4. Teach a "new exercise"  include in the warm up and then repeat with more ROM, different direction or working position through the conditioning segment.  Again, this requires paying attention to detail.

#5.  Change the style of class - if you have been more of a military style instructor then add more dance moves. Conversely, if you love to dance - change your persona into a Sergeant of the Troops (aka Noodle Boot Camp).

#6.   Provide more challenging exercises that require even  more attention to detail - for example use JAX arms with cross country legs then change to Cross country arms and JAX legs.

#7.  If talking still remains a problem turn off the music - keep teaching  and see how long it takes before this is noticed.

#8. Sing - you cannot sing and talk - so if you use muscle always put in a few recognizable songs for people to sing - point out this is the TALK TEST.

#9.  Pick a volunteer (someone who you know will help you willingly)  to show a favorite exercise. Then chose a talker to show their favorite exercise.  When they do the "I don't know" shrug  it is your chance to say "Oh you want  to target the Rhomboids!" Then demonstrate the thumbs up reverse breaststroke move and say - "Let's do it!"

#10.  Add a games Playing games - especially "the team" type are perfect for this group.  They have to move to keep up with the team but at the same time they can shout instructions, laugh, cheer, offer words of encouragement AND talk to their friends.

When all else fails - Have a competition to see who can go the longest without speaking or simply ask everyone why they come to class?  

The number one rule for an Instructor is to Take Charge - in other words, be the master of your game - talk louder and with more authority  than your chatters.  Good luck and keep everyone moving towards better health!

If you have other ideas on how you can help people move and stop talking Email Us 

Full PDF of Article click here

Additionally Check out Some of Our  Educational DVDs

DVD067 - Shallow H20 Boot Camp with Tubing

DVD068- Team Work, Partners  & Games

DVD071 - Shape Up and Water Train (2 DVDs)

DVD079  - Move to Health with Walking (2 DVDs)

DVD095 Noodle Boot Camp (2 DVDs) click here

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