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Different Ways To Instruct

Posted by terrepruitt on November 17, 2015

Every type of group exercise in a class format has its own way of doing things.  Some formats might be the type in which the instructor is actually shouting and yelling at the participants.  Some might just have instructions posted around the area and people are to move along and follow the instructions.  A Zumba class is a lead follow type of format where – at least when I earned my certification – the instructions are supposed to be more hand motions than verbal.  The instructor is not supposed to talk as much as just point and gesture.  Nia is also a lead follow format, but with verbal guiding/instructing.  We have specific points in our music when we are supposed to guide the class into the next moves.  We, also are to use what we call “pearls” to help people move their bodies.  From what I understand and the training I received we are not supposed to talk the entire time.  Nia is body centered, so the instructors are supposed to be silent at times to let the students dance in their own way to the moves and the music.  I personally feel that I can use work on both my use of pearls AND of being silent.  One thing about Nia, though, is it is about play, exploration, experimentation, and doing new things in order to stimulate the BMES (the body, mind, emotions, and spirit).  One thing that I have always heard about is the silent class.

Dance Exercise, Nia, Nia in the City of San Jose, Nia classes in the South Bay, Nia Teacher, Nia Class, San Jose Nia, Nia San Jose, Nia workout, Nia, Gentle Yoga, Group Ex classes, YMCA, Zumba, PiYo, Nia TechniqueSo, the silent class does not mean no music, it means no cueing.  Or at least that is what I thought it meant . . . turns out – just like many things – there are many ways to do it.  One of my students recently took the brown belt intensive and there she experienced a class with no cues.  She requested we try it.  Well, it so happened that I started on the path while she was gone so I asked a fellow Nia Teacher and Black Belt what she did in HER silent classes.  I was wondering if there was no cueing and NO SOUNDING.  I figured it would be a huge challenge for me not to cue, but I really was doubtful I could make it through a class without making a sound.  Her response surprised me in that she said she claps to indicate a move change.  Well, that just threw another wrench in the mix.  So . . . that meant that there was SOME type of cueing.  I mean cueing is alerting to a change.  LOTS of cueing is telling people what the change is and when and . . . etc.  But a clap is a cue.  So . . . to me that would mean it is a class with no VERBAL cueing.  She also mentioned that sounding would work depending upon the mood being sought for the class.  With her class — I think she does a specific routine — she does not sound.

So there are different ways to have a silent class.  There could be NO cueing at all.  There could be a clap to indicate the next move is a different one.  There could be pointing and indicating in some fashion something – either direction or side of body or body part or that something new is coming.  I really think that any of those ways is good.  Because all of them offer something different for the student.  And all of them allow the participant to focus on different things.

So for the past four weeks we have been dancing a routine with the intent of doing it without cueing.  I was going to dance it for three weeks, but I thought my student who requested this would be back for the fourth week (the planned silent class), but she wasn’t so I did it one more week so she could join the silent class.

We danced it without verbal cues today and it was very interesting . . . . .

4 Responses to “Different Ways To Instruct”

  1. Interesting. I haven’t taken a Nia class without verbal cues. I’d be curious how that felt. I haven’t taken a full Zumba class, but some Zumba teachers taught in a jam that included Zumba, Nia, and MixxedFit, and I found it more challenging to follow. It also may be that I’m more used to verbal cues, and I also generally learn best through a combination of hearing and seeing.


    • I believe that Nia classes without verbal cueing is NOT the norm at all. But I teach three to four times at this location with basically the same participants, so we are able to play more with a lot of different things in regards to Nia. If new-to-Nia people would have walked in to take the class, I might have scratched the idea of a silent class. I think it might be off-putting if it were your FIRST Nia class. That is one reason I have never done it before because I am always afraid I will have a new person come in and not know what was going on. It was already odd for the people that came in late. They might not have know what we were doing. I am going to post the follow up tomorrow as to some of the opinions and feelings about the class. Stay tuned . . . .

      I’ve not heard of MixxedFit.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sonja Troncoso said

    Hi TerreI am one of those that very much appreciate all of your pearls ahead of time by a few beats in anticipation of a change. Because I don’t feel I am talented in anticipation of was coming I need that to feel included. Without thE verbal cues, I would feel like I’m at a typical Zumba class way above my head.   and zumba is one of those things that I would never go back to ever again because I feel tremendously incompetent. Thanks, sonja

    Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android


    • Yeah, people like to know what it coming. But part of Nia is just letting it be and being in the moment. If I change moves and people are still on the last one . . . no biggie. And, as you know with Nia we usually do the move long enough (or enough times) that it allows you to move into it at your own pace. So, if you aren’t moving the move AT the change, no biggie, pick it up the next time or the next time around. It really is a lesson for some. Learning to just go with the flow and not have to be right on the change when it happens.

      It was so interesting I have another post about it that I am publishing tomorrow AND we are going to do it again on Tuesday. Thanks for reading and commenting!


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