The Great Cliche Makeover

I was hunting through some of my old reference materials in search of a quote I knew I had saved, but couldn’t remember.  I have a large directory on my computer that is backed up on my laptop and my thumb drive for portability.  I didn’t find what I was looking for, but I did come across an article by Jay Blahnik that I downloaded from the FitPro website a while back.  Update: June 17,2008 — Unfortunately, they no longer host it on their website.  😦What I spent the most time pouring over was the section where he takes a tired, vague cue and makes it more informative and inspirational.   For example:

Standard cue: “I want you to work at your threshold.”

Better cue: “I want you to feel like you can only do this for about five minutes and you wouldn’t last any longer.”

Standard cue: “Let’s go, work really hard for a minute.”
Better cue: “I want you to imagine that you are behind the person that beat you in PE class or someone in your job that always just seems to come out a bit ahead of you. For the next minute if you could have a good shot at beating them, what would you do?”

I lamented in a post at Pedal-On last month that I have observed that cues I use that were once full of life and energy are now tired and cliche.  Unless I am subbing, they just don’t provide the spark they once had.  So, using Blahnik’s examples as a guide, I took a few of those cliches to see if I could re-work them into new motivational cues.  I also intend to work through my Pilates cues to see if I can accomplish the same thing.  That will come in a later post if I get around to it.  So here goes.  Basically, I took each cliche, determined what I was trying to convey to my students when I said it, and elaborated on that. 

 Original Cue: “Don’t stop breathing”
 New and Improved Cue: “Take the next minute to attend to your breath.  Use each inhale to infuse your muscles with new energy and use each exhale to release your burdens.”

 Original Cue: “Use fluid pedal strokes.”

 New and Improved Cue: “Visualize a locomotive chugging along without hesitation.  It flows along the rails smoothly and with symmetry in a never-ending chain of motion.  Let your legs move evenly with each circle of the pedals flowing into the next.”

 Original Cues: “Take time to settle in to the ride.”  & “Make Friends with Your Bike”

 New and Improved Cue:  “Think of your bike like your exercise companion.  Allow that cameraderie to help you relax and get comfortable, knowing that you have all you need to ride and ride well.”

 Original Cues: “Be light in the hands.”

 New and Improved Cue: “Gripping the handlebars is a misdirection of your energy.  Free up your hands and send that energy back into your legs.”

 Original Cue: “Give yourself thunderous applause” (at the end of the ride)

 New and Improved Cue:  “You have given an effort worthy of celebration.  Let’s hear it!”
Those are just the start.  I challenge you to listen to yourself as you coach your students and see what words you tend to overuse.  Make a list and within a few minutes, you can have a whole new set of cues just waiting to motivate your next class!


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