Are your cues driving your members towards success?

There is one thing above all things I drill when I educate trainers. Make your members feel successful. Ultimately, if your members do not walk away from your class with that feeling, there’s a very high chance they won’t be coming back. Whereas success  – that feeling, we want to chase. We will hunt that feeling down!

One of our very important feel good hormones is released when we are driving toward success. Dopamine! Dopamine is your achievement hormone, otherwise known as the feel-good neurotransmitter. The more success and reward we experience the better we feel!

So how do we ensure this happens? We have to make sure the words we use are thought out and above all inclusive to everybody’s fitness journey. This doesn’t mean we suddenly have to make our classes super easy, or boring, but we do have to carefully curate our cues so they pave a pathway for success for all ages, abilities and goals.

Here are my 4 top tips to start implementing inclusivity into your cueing…

  1. Even the playing field

Avoid the terms “beginner” and “advanced”  when referencing movement regressions and progressions or weight selection. Additionally, please don’t use men’s weights and women’s weights as a cue! 

Remember just because a member has checked in with their energy and body on a certain day and chooses to use the light weight, doesn’t mean they are taking the easy or beginner option. 

If you are constantly reinforcing that certain options are more advanced than others, it has the potential to make some members feel inferior if they continually choose the “easy” path. 

Instead use inclusive cues like option 1 or option 2.  This way your members will feel like they are simply making a choice as to what ‘option’ they want to take that day. 

  1. Start with the foundations

Start with the perceived regressed option of the movement in your demonstration and explanation, then allow people to progress from there. i.e Start with a push up on your knees and allow them to progress, where able, to a push up on their toes. 

This works similarly to our ‘choose your option’ point above. By starting with the modified version of the movement everyone in your class can feel successful. An example of this would be: “If you want more here try taking these up to the toes” 

We always want to make the progressive movements an EMPOWERED choice.Cues such as; “If you want to make this a little more spicy try…X”, or, “Take X here to increase that heart rate a little more”. Try creating your own versions of these for the classes you teach.

  1. Stop the shame cueing 

Ditch the cues that focus on “burning off your calories from the night before”, “Getting that bikini body”, “Melting fat”, or any cues that use movement as a punishment rather than something to be celebrated.  These cues are not positively motivating anybody. All we are doing is reinforcing negative thought patterns around food and movement. 

In that same breath, also avoid anything that insinuates that they have “failed” if they don’t complete the work. Remember everyone is in your class for different reasons. No one should fail or feel like they were not good enough. Perhaps they instead are working towards a longer term goal, and today was one step towards it. Reframe your cueing to reflect this. 

  1. Remember your SMART goals 

Don’t create goals in class that are based off of what you as the instructor can achieve, or what others are doing. Benchmark using their own efforts instead. i.e A great way to motivate increased effort across a set of intervals would be for them to monitor their effort in interval one, and then continue to try and equal or beat that effort in the following intervals. 

Use SMART goals when planning your classes (so make sure your goals are achievable AND realistic). If it isn’t achievable for them today, could it be by next week or the week after? And how are we going to help them feel good about taking the steps towards it.

Please don’t mistake this as a plea to not use words to motivate our members to greatness, this is what you are here to do as an instructor or coach. It’s how we do it that’s important and has the power to be transformative. There are so many ways we can get our members to achieve things they didn’t think possible, without shaming them in the process. 

We are in a world right now where we as humans are judging and comparing ourselves more than ever before, mental health is at an all time low. Let’s ensure the words we use are having a positive effect on our members and creating spaces that allow them to feel safe and SUCCESSFUL.

Studio owners. Are you focusing on this type of inclusive language when it comes to training and educating your team? We can help check out our retention handbook at

pssst – Instructors BIG news coming soon. Our instructor focused education in collaboration with FTI is coming soon! Make sure to follow our socials and watch out for announcements coming soon!

Written by Emma Masters.

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