How Your Words Can Empower Your Students

Oreet wears a black shirt with pink text that reads SharQui Workout. She sits in a chair smiling at the camera. Text reads "Straight Up with Oreet"

Eating and movement don’t have to go together. Sure, they influence each other, but understand that people move for different reasons – for more energy, to tackle everyday chores, for better athletic performance, to lose weight, or for mental well-being. But when movement becomes punishment because of what you ate or will eat, this is where fitness and dance instructors have an important responsibility.

Honestly, the diet and fitness culture messaging has downright sucked the past 30 plus years.  From messaging to exercise more to “earn” or “burn” your food, and “do this to get beach body ready”, to “take this to burn more fat”.  It has been ingrained in us that by doing this or that to look a “certain way”, is good.

And yes, it has affected how we teach as instructors.

We’ve all been guilty of it – unconsciously too!  When we ask our students to move faster to work off that holiday meal; have we really thought about how our words land on the people we teach?  Could our words effect a student to sink deeper into an already low self-esteem, or have them rethink about eating that dessert?

Truth smack: We are unconsciously projecting onto our students when we say these things. I firmly believe that all that we say is well intended, but as instructors, the mic should not be the place to work out our stuff.

Let’s break this habit and lead with empowerment. Here are examples of verbiage that offers a positive effect:

  • “Let’s work today so that you can have more energy for your holiday gatherings” vs “Work harder so that you can eat            that holiday dessert”
  • “Honor yourself for showing up today” vs “Let’s burn off that apple pie”
  • “Embrace what your body can do today” vs “Let’s wake up that body from last night’s drink fest”

How did those words sound? Much more inviting, yes? Deep down inside that’s what EVERYONE wants to hear – even instructors.

So, In a nutshell, we don’t know about the people we are teaching and have no idea how they internalize our words and what it could do to them; BUT what we can do is take food out of the equation, celebrate their movement, and have them know that that they’re giving themselves a gift just by showing up.

Stay Passionate,


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