The Need-To-Know Truth About Marketing For Coaches & Teachers

The Need-To-Know Truth About Marketing For Coaches & Teachers

Of course you want to help people move better, and build a thriving business doing it.  

You wouldn't be here otherwise.

But at times it feels like you're just getting by.  You're never quite sure where your next client is going to come from, and the stress makes it difficult to do your best work.

Each month there's rent or a mortgage, loans, bills, maybe even a family to take care of, or a studio lease.  And that's just the basics, not even taking into account the fact that--I don't know--maybe you want to grow?  To keep learning and honing in on your craft?

Month after month you tell yourself that something has to change.  But you're not sure what.

You want to reach your ideal clients, but conventional marketing leaves you with a bad taste in your mouth.  You got into this because you want to coach people, not spend time marketing or selling, right?

Well, if you're a movement coach, teacher, or practitioner, here's the need-to-know truth about marketing...

Three Things Psychotherapy Teaches Us About Effective Coaching

Three Things Psychotherapy Teaches Us About Effective Coaching

Movement is amazingly complex.

What we quickly realize is that there's more to the body than muscle and bone.  We have tendons, ligaments, connective tissues of all kinds...and a nervous system to top it all off.

But what's most confusing for so many movement practitioners is the mind-body connection.  In fact the whole idea of the mind is confusing even for cognitive scientists.  Nobody has a clear idea of what exactly the mind is, let alone the whole picture of how it relates to the body.

How To Cue Movement Effectively

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The biggest struggle of a movement practice is that we simply don't have the right words to talk about movement. As a culture, we are largely divorced from our bodies—disembodied, if you will. As a result, we pursue fitness goals without much grasp of the territory we're working with. The scary thing is that many "experts" are just as lost.

We hear the same cliché cues parroted over and over. But the reality is that different bodies need different cues. To more effectively use cueing, we need to follow a few simple rules:

  • The location of cueing must be exact
  • The cue must have definite direction
  • The cue must have a relevant functional goal

Let's unpack each a bit, shall we?

Location, Location, Location

If verbal cueing is going to do us any good, we have to be speaking the same language. If I say “hips back while cueing a deadlift, that's a pretty vague term. Is that hip socket?  Hip crest?  Sit bones?  Does the student know the difference between these places?  This is where the best teachers truly shine. A knowledge of anatomy, coupled with creative wording, can paint a much better picture in a student's mind.

Consider the devious cue of “shoulders down and back,” given so frequently to yogis in an upward-facing dog. Twenty students in a room will likely have twenty different responses to such vague cueing. Do you know what part of the shoulder?  Do you know why?  Keep in mind the shoulder girdle is highly complex (comprised of three distinct joints). Unless we cue with accuracy and precision, we'll constantly struggle both to teach and perform movement.

Direct the Movement

It’s vitally important to keep in mind that all movement, voluntary or involuntary, is directed by the nervous system. If we want to improve efficiency of movement, we need to play nicely with the body. When we make concrete cues, we improve their specificity. This specificity works wonders in generating functional movement from abstract cues.

Consider for instance the cue of “standing straight.” Not only is this anatomically impossible, it completely lacks a sense of direction. How much better to cue a sinking downward of the sitbones and a “lifting upwards from the manubrium (top of the sternum). These directional cues produce a far better result by clarifying the process at hand. We certainly won't be standing straight up, but we'll find a much better sense of length and verticality.

Make it Work

This problem runs rampant in yoga studios. Many teachers simply cue for the sake of cueing without regard for whether the prompt improves the movement at hand. Consider the infamous "hug your elbows in" cue one hears when lowering to chaturaṅga. On the surface this seems harmless. It has a specific location and direction. But the truth is this cue does little to improve the function of the shoulder girdle in eccentric pressing. It may do more harm than good. See, hugging the elbows in toward the ribs can actually shear the shoulder joint. Hugging elbows in toward the ribs simply doesn't improve the movement at hand. And if we don't improve the movement we're teaching, what's the point?

A Humbling Realization

As teachers we must ask ourselves: Does this cue actually improve coordination of the movement at hand?  Does it make the movement better?  The answer could be yes, no, or the dreaded I don't know.

If you truly don't know, it's far better to err on the side of caution. It can be humbling to realize we truly don't know what's going on, but we have to adopt a growth mindset in these situations. This is an opportunity to deepen our understanding of the body for our own benefit and that of our students.

Putting it all Together

A working understanding of movement can be enriched by better cueing. As students we will be better able to direct our own bodies, and as teachers we will be better able to guide our students.

Proper cueing has three distinct ingredients: an exact location, a definite direction, and a relevant functional goal. When we start cooking with these ingredients, movement takes on new life, injuries plummet, and we find improved strength and ease. And that's a winning combination, if you ask me.

A More Robust Approach To Mobility

When it comes to mobility, we need an approach that not only expands range of motion, but teaches the body how to use that range of motion.  This is where most folks fall short.  In this video I'll share a more robust approach to mobility, one that can quickly expand range of motion and--when applied consistently--leads to lasting physiological changes to our structure. 

Check it out:

The Key To Success: Do Less

The Key To Success: Do Less

Lifestyle design junkies have long been enamored with the idea of the 80/20 rule (Pareto’s principle), which posits that 80% of our results stem from 20% of our efforts.  The common cliché is: find the 20% of your activities that yield the most reward, and declutter the rest from your life.

There’s a similar principle in training, one that can give us major improvements in neuromuscular coordination.  I’m talking about the Weber-Fechner law.

Unlock The Eyes To Unlock The Neck

Unlock The Eyes To Unlock The Neck

If you work with human bodies, at some point one of them is going to show up with neck pain.

The human spine is a vulnerable bit of architecture as is, but put it into a wholly foreign environment with unnatural behaviors, and problems are bound to crop up.  And when these problems manifest in the neck, it affects function throughout the body.  In this article you'll learn a simple way to help your clients free up tension in the neck, naturally allowing them to find better coordination throughout their movements.

Say What You Mean: Cueing For Optimal Organization And Function

Say What You Mean: Cueing For Optimal Organization And Function

As a teacher or coach your words are more powerful than you know.  

The unfortunate byproduct is that your cues with clients may be doing more harm than good, creating unnecessary tension or sabotaging the desired movement entirely.  In this article we'll explore the problems with most teachers' cues and explore a more effective and efficient approach based on two distinct approaches in the available literature.