Tone and pitch

Tone and pitch of the voice can make it more interesting and can introduce variety and motivational emphasis to the voice. This can work well when emphasising a word or phrase. Using variety also engages the participants, and the leader can use more expression to encourage the group. Varying tone and pitch can be used with emphasis on different types of exercise and can maintain the group's interest and motivation. For example:

For performing a calf stretch, the tone of voice goes down to emphasise pushing the heel into the floor:

We push the heel down into the floor. Can you all feel the stretch in the calf muscle?

The exercise leader should also provide the group with information on how different exercises should feel. Variety of tones and pitch can also add to the leader's vocal comfort, avoiding abuse of the vocal cords in sustained use. Furthermore, vocal variation enhances the leader's facial expression, allowing for more flexible movement of the jaw, soft palate, tongue and lips. These are speech organs that shape the leader's outgoing breath into clear, effective speech.

Cueing and Linking Exercise

In Chapter 5 the different modes of delivery were discussed, with aerobic circuits and free aerobics as key methods in delivery. Often free aerobics will also be used in the warm-up. In free aerobics, where the leader is introducing different combinations and moves with music, the leader is required to link and combine exercises with an element of choreography, i.e. moving in time to the music and facilitating participants to do so. This teaching skill can seem very difficult, as the leader is not only demonstrating and instructing, but also exercising along with the class. As exercise leadership is a motor skill combining many elements, it is advisable to practise moves and combinations of steps prior to taking the class, particularly in the early developmental period of class leadership.

Cueing requires the leader to give the class verbal instruction of the exercise they are about to perform and to fit the exercise to the music. The process of linking exercises requires the leader to move from one exercise to another or to move the group in different directions. To do this there are basic steps, and arm and leg patterns are added to increase exercise intensity (see Chapter 5). When starting to use cueing and linking of free mode of delivery it is best to keep the type of exercise simple and to limit the exercise combinations. Suitable music will have a steady beat with multiple beats of 4, 8,16, etc. The combinations of exercise can be, for example, basic steps with variety of upper body activity. Basic steps that can be repeated throughout include:

Each of these combinations needs to be linked together. To manage the transition, the leader can bring the class back to a march between each combination of 8 beats. To start the groups together there are different ways to achieve this, for example:

• count down from four and start on the fourth beat Four, three, two and -

• during group marching. The leader demonstrates the move and invites the group to join in

When you are ready join in.

It is important to remind the group that this type of exercise format is skilful and requires practice. At first they may find it difficult but it will get easier. Furthermore, it is important to point out that the exercises are not dancing (moving aerobically to a rhythm provided by the music). It requires coordination and balance, which is good for prevention of falling.

Exercise Leadership in Cardiac Rehabilitation Table 7.1. Tips for developing teaching skills

Tips for developing teaching skills

Watch experienced CR exercise leaders take classes.

Practise with your peers before taking a CR class.

Use a video of yourself taking a CR class to get feedback.

Use a tape recorder to get voice feedback.

Team-teach with an experienced exercise leader.

Take a section of the class and get feedback from experienced leader.

Gradually take more of the class and ask an experienced leader to give you feedback.

Use a mirror to watch your facial expressions and use of mouth.

Attend 'exercise teaching' courses.

Leading free aerobics requires practice and skill. As with any skill, the more leaders can practise the more proficient they will become. A good teacher is not born but develops with practice and experience. There are courses specifically addressing group teaching skills at, for example, the ACPICR and Glasgow Caledonian University. Some tips are given in Table 7.1 to help develop teaching skills.

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