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 Fitness & Your Health: Transformation: How To Take Them From Sedentary To Active  

Technique. In addition to training participants to control movement speed and move through their full range, we insist they not hold either their breath or the resistance. In other words, we make sure trainees demonstrate continuous breathing and continuous movement through each exercise set. Breath holding and isometric contractions may occlude blood flow and raise blood pressure to unsafe levels.

How To Teach: Creating The Dialogue
Most exercise enthusiasts are self-motivated and require little more than good instruction to initiate a regular training program. However, the typical sedentary individual needs both education and motivation to become an exercise participant. We strive to provide a positive, productive exercise experience for our new members. The following 10 teaching guidelines have proven helpful in this regard; they will take you through a useful "dialogue" with the new exerciser.

1. Clear Training Objectives. Let trainees know specifically what you expect them to accomplish during the workout. Example: "Jim, this is exactly what I want you to do today."

2. Concise Instruction/Precise Demonstration. Tell and show participants precisely how to perform the exercises. Example, "Jim, this is exactly how I want you to perform the leg extension exercise."

3. Attentive Supervision. Many inactive individuals lack confidence in their physical ability and are reticent to perform exercise without supervision. Observe them carefully. Observation is a motivating factor for most new exercisers. Example: "Jim, I'll watch as you perform your leg extension repetitions."

4. Appropriate Assistance. To assure proper exercise performance, it is often necessary to provide some form of manual assistance. This may mean assisting participants onto a machine, helping them fasten a seat belt or guiding them through an exercise movement. Example: "Jim, I'll guide you through the first repetition to establish the proper exercise form."

5. One Task At A Time. Projecting a series of performance tasks may be confusing to new exercisers. Give one directive at a time to increase the probability that they will successfully complete each task. Example: "Jim, all I want you to do is exhale as you lift the weight.

6. Gradual Progression. Progress slowly when teaching people with little exercise experience. Don't introduce a follow-up task until the first task has been mastered. Example, "Okay, Jim, this time I want you to inhale as you lower the weight."

7. Positive Reinforcement. Most new exercisers experience uncertainty over their training efforts. Positive comments, personal compliments or pats on the shoulder are simple reinforcers. Example: "Good job, Jim. You are making excellent progress."

8. Specific Feedback. Positive reinforcement is more meaningful when it is coupled with specific feedback. Giving a reason for your positive comment increases its value as an educational and motivational tool. Example: "Good job, Jim. You performed every repetition through the full movement range."

9. Careful Questioning. New participants may not volunteer information that could be useful in their program design, so ask how they are responding to the exercise experience. Example: "Jim, tell me where you feel the effort in this exercise."

10. Pre-and Postexercise Dialogue. Try to sandwich the exercise experience between an arriving and a departing dialogue. A couple of minutes before and after each workout to obtain the participants' perspectives is time well spent. Example, "Jim, thanks for a exercising with us today. It think you did a great job, but I would like to hear your impressions of the workout."

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 About The Author
Wayne Westcott PhDWayne L. Westcott, Ph.D., is fitness research director at the South Shore YMCA in Quincy, MA. He is strength training consultant for numerous national organizations, such as the American Council on Exercise, the......more
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