Voice for Fitness Instructors
It’s not easy to exercise, breathe, speak and motivate at the same time; even with the aid of a wireless, omni-directional microphone strapped around the head. Despite any coaching constrictions, it’s important for fitness class participants to hear a fit voice because the voice is reflective of what’s going on inside of our body. To get the voice in shape we have to make some physical adjustments while coaching.
If you teach Bootcamp, Martial Arts, or any type of class…
for which you might play the role of a drill sergeant, the tendency is to drive the voice from the sternum, upper chest or throat. That can lead to vocal damage. When the sternum is locked the breath supply is cut off. Your breath should be the driver of your voice and the breath needs to come from the lower torso, i.e. the belly.
When you’re coaching and take a breath in, relax your abdominal muscles and let the breath down.
If you want to take on a sergeant type of role, make it fun. When we’re in play we’re “at ease” and the voice will flow more naturally.
If you teach Yoga, Pilates or any gentler exercise…
it’s easy to fall into the trap of speaking with a breathy voice to create a mood of tranquility. A breathy voice means there isn’t enough breath to carry it. The inspiration of air is too shallow.
Note that the diaphragm, the big muscle that moves the breath, extends from the bottom of the front ribs in front and around to the back. You may not realize this but we get most of our breath from the lower back lungs. That means we have to be physically unlocked all the way down the front and the back for the diaphragm to do its job and energize the voice.
We don’t have to project loudly when teaching…
but we have to speak from the core of the body. After all, one of the premises of Yoga and Pilates is to be alive in the core.
If you teach a lot of classes in a row and your voice is tired,
you can rejuvenate it by taking a deep breath. That will release more oxygen into the blood, enhancing the ability of the voice to function. Take it one step further. Observe the breathing patterns of your participants and match your breathing rhythm with theirs. It’s likely everyone is breathing at the same pace. This will energize you and strengthen your connection with them.
Do a quick body scan to find out where you might be tightening or grabbing your muscles. Release your jaw hinge. Release the back of the tongue and align your spine so the channel through which the voice travels isn’t distorted.
If you use a microphone to assist your voice,
stop working so hard and let it send out the sound. Its job is to convert the acoustic energy of your voice into electric energy…an extra little boost for a dynamic class!