Becoming a Better Coach, Part 1 & Understanding the Core

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Hello Fitness Professionals, are you ready to embrace change? The Autumn Equinox has come and gone, bringing with it many aspects of change. This includes changes in climate, as well as equal day and night hours, nearly twelve hours each. Because change is ever constant, and therefore inevitable, in this month’s issue, we encourage you to welcome change. This is important because when we allow ourselves to embrace change, rather than resist it, we encourage the process of flow. How do we achieve this phenomenon of flow? Flow can only be achieved when we are cultivating power from within.

 What is Flow?

Flow is a heightened state of body awareness such as a runner’s high, an acute calm state of being, or even a state of euphoria. In most situations, flow describes a continuous movement or placement of energy. When an athlete is "in the zone", for example, their movements flow with ease, and they explain that all of their training seems to work in their favor because they are extraordinarily focused and on top of their game.

This state of ease can be a fleeting moment or one that is more prolonged. For some, flow could consist of a perception of: 1) time slowing down, 2) the concept of ‘self’ vanishing, and/or 3) action and effortless awareness merging. Positivity psychologist, Martin Seligman explains, flow can also been defined as a type of inner ‘knowing’ that occurs:

“When our highest strengths come into alignment with the challenges that come our way”.

Flow can be achieved when a certain level of effortless calm is realized while performing a movement or art form. When we move in alignment, a heightened state of body awareness, or flow surfaces from within. This state can be seen in elite athletes such as Michael Phelps, Michael Jordan, Michelle Kwan, and other elite athletes. NAFC believes that with the right knowledge and understanding, and above all consistent application, any ‘body’ can learn to find flow.

In this 2-part series, we’ll discuss training to become a better coach. We’ll start with learning effective communication strategies, and then dive deep into your core. In October’s and November’s issue, you’ll also find training tips from NAFC’s presenters and educators: Stacey Lei Krauss, Kevin Bowen and Sarah Anisman.

What’s New? A CORE X SYSTEMS™ Update:

A big Thank You to Ms. Sarah Anisman, NAFC Course Presenter and Special Projects Manager and to Dr. Carla-Dyann Brown, NAFC Education Director, for a successful CORE X SYSTEM™ Master Course launch. Great teamwork effort! In this 3-day workshop, trainers from across the country met in sunny San Diego to explore, collaborate, and share. What was dissected besides anatomy and proper form and alignment? How to become better coaches, and of course, how to ignite the core! During the workshop the question was posed: “What is the core?” So, we thought we’d engage you on what actually makes up the core.

What is the CORE?

In the most general terms, the core can be defined as your body, minus the arms (at shoulder joint), and the legs minus below the knees. Have you ever known someone who appears strong and muscular, and then when they attempt a balance exercise, they may actually be unbalanced or quite weak? This may be a sign of a weak core.

To be truly strong, the core muscles must be consistently and appropriately trained and conditioned, as these muscles are involved in every movement we make. A client may have shapely or well-defined musculature but not neglect to train their core musculature efficiently. When these muscles are not trained well, or even neglected, true strength gains and movement efficiency are not optimized.

Core training is important to everyday activities, and the key to daily functional training involves one’s ability to activate the big and small muscles in a synchronized, harmonious flow. This is what NAFC’s CORE X SYTEM™ Creator, Alex McKechnie refers to as ‘sequential muscle activation’. This type of sequential muscle activation is defined by a type of muscle firing pattern, and further involves the ability to connect the mind to the body. With concentration, focus and proper coaching, anyone can master this type of total body integration.

Other types of core training can include yoga and Pilates, both of which focus on strength and flexibility. NAFC’s CORE X SYSTEM™ takes the concepts of core training to the next level, as this PowerCert™ program is especially designed to integrate stability and mobility that is guaranteed to improve movement efficiency.

What is Total Body Integration?

Total body integration is the ability to use the whole body to move efficiently with power, grace and flow. Everyone is capable of using the body to fully realize this experience! The key to achieving total body integration involves developing body awareness.

Understanding Your Clients’ Learning Language

As instructors, we must recognize that awareness starts with effective communication.

If you haven’t already, find out how your student/client best comprehends and applies information. Consider “What learning style is best illustrated by the way they receive and perceive information?” In NAFC’s Anatomy and Physiology foundations, 4 main learning styles are considered when applying effective communication. Although there are additional learning processes (not mentioned in this article), most people will learn from one or more of the following:

1. Kinesthetic-learn by doing or acting

2. Tactile- learn by touch or feel

3. Auditory-learn by listening

4. Visual- learn by watching or observing

Understand your clients’ ‘learning language’ and find ease and fun in education. Most will have a ‘primary’ language, and many will learn through a combination of styles. For example, you may need to demonstrate an exercise (visual), but they may need to ‘do it’ in order to ‘get it’. While employing a visual aid alone can be very powerful-- for others, full comprehension cannot be realized until they actually do it (kinesthetic), and truly feel the movement (Tactile).

In general, those who lack body awareness will struggle to feel a movement or exercise; it may be likely they have had injuries or they live in a disconnected body—due to lack of activity. Or, it’s possible they may have never learned it. These individuals may require more touch or the use of your tactile cueing in order to feel the action. Use your hands or fingertips to help them. By understanding our clients’ history and learning how to communicate using the above-mentioned 4 senses, we can tune in and guide them through better workouts!

Training tip for redirecting focus: If you notice a client is unfocused, lightly tap on that specific body part that is being trained. Use your fingertips to gently yet firmly, tap on the muscle group, and reel them in. Cue: feel this muscle. Remember to always ask for permission to touch first! Visit and learn more on ‘The Power of Your Touch’ and review the how and when it’s appropriate to touch a client.

Optimize on Visual Cueing

By Stacey Lei Krauss, founder of The willPower Method™.

As fitness leaders, how much do we truly tap into our clients’ use of sight and other senses during training? Our ability to move effectively and to feel a movement can be challenged when we’re not paying attention. Safety, alignment and attention to detail can become a challenge in a noisy, energetic classroom, but there’s 1 great strategy: Use your eyes.

Many instructors will ask students to watch a demonstration prior to performing an exercise. Although demonstrating correct form and alignment can be very effective, cueing students to tap into their visual senses may be more powerful than we realize.

For example, you can have participants look at areas of the room (i.e., targets and markers) for better lines and angles. Tell them to look at their body parts to get better engagement. Use the mirror as it was intended – as a tool to really see one’s self and take responsibility for the person (who is) staring back at them.

Whether you’re teaching yoga, Pilates, dance or cycling, try the following tips on using markers and targets. These cues can help develop better focus:

• Look at the lines on the floor, and align your feet so that they’re parallel to those lines.

• Look across the room. Do you see that window, or a non-moving object to gaze at?

• Drive/Pull/push (the cable handles) directly towards that window, a line, a wall.

• In cycling, look down at your legs. Cue: “your thighs should be parallel to the bike frame.

If they’re not, draw your knees in or press them out a bit until you find parallel (position).” If your client/student is a visual learner (many people are), use that mirror—it’s there to help with alignment, learning and awareness. Thank you, Stacey, for reminding us that connecting with visual learners using targets, markers and an awareness of self can truly support our participants during training!

Reeling in Your Team: Effective Communication & Using ANSER™

When it comes to becoming a better coach, communication is key. American author of personal success and motivation, Napoleon Hill said it best: it’s best to first seek to understand others before seeking to be understood. As coaches, if we’re to successfully lead, we must learn what drives others.

In choosing your words, use quality or quantity. Be the instructor who stands out by staying true to what you’re great at doing: Teaching people how to live in their bodies. Classrooms will go awry, but you’ll be prepared with solutions. When students break focus and safety is compromised, reel them back in. Encourage them to do the following:

1. Take responsibility. Have them use their eyes. Offer them a focal point in the room or point to a non-moving object.

2. Re-direct focus. Speak to A-Awareness, B-Breath and C-Core (ABC); Cue: Feel the quake in your core? Or feel your toes grip your mat? Remind them to listen to the sound of their own breathing.

3. Speak to feeling NAFC’s ANSER™: (N)-Neutral spine, (A)-Align joints (S)-Square hips, (E)-Engage core, and (R-Retract shoulders.

In next month’s issue learn more about eye placement during movement from Pilates Coach Director, Kevin Bowen. Also, learn strategies for keeping students engaged from NAFC Course Presenter, Sarah Anisman. Read more of Stacey’s tips in Part 2 in November’s news, on how to optimize on using visual aids. Understand how to guide in a way that invites feeling, rather than thinking--using Clear, Effective and Concise (CEC) cues.

As always, apply what you learn to the everyday flow of Life—NAFC-style. To learn more on how to tap into your power—we’ve got you covered from head to toe. With NAFC’s PowerCerts™ you’ll learn to train with intelligence, integrity and purpose. Share your knowledge and your passion. Join our team. Don’t wait another day to develop the skills to becoming a better coach