Encouragement is an Art

Giving people encouragement when they’re doing something hard is a crucial life skill. It’s especially important at Parkside CrossFit. Not only are our coaches constantly giving people encouragement, we encourage our members to do the same thing. As a trainer, sometimes it’s my job to be a professional cheerleader.

There’s an art to it. It takes practice and thoughtfulness to motivate people exactly how they need to be motivated to help them reach their potential. One size does not fit all. Some people need quiet support, some people need crazy energy, some need logic, and some need emotion. Most people need a combination, and it can change day to day.

Very few people have ever had training on giving encouragement the right way and I have to be very real for a second. Some people are better at it than others.  Here are somethings to consider.

Before I get to the Dos and Do Nots, I want to make very clear that the single most important thing that anyone can develop for cheering people on (and in general) is self-awareness.

Self Awareness is Key

Before you can encourage people at a high level, you have to question yourself. Are you good at encouraging people? What does that even mean? How do we know? Do you just cheer everyone on the same way? Is that the best way? How do you know? These are just a few of the questions you have to ask yourself very honestly. If your first thought is “Of course I’m awesome at cheering people on”, you might not be aware of potential negative habits. As humans we’re just not good at things that we don’t practice.

Now that you’ve admitted to yourself that you probably haven’t thought much about cheering people on, you can improve. Here are 4 Do’s and 2 crucial Do Nots.

4 Do’s

  1. Be thoughtful. Think about who you are cheering on. Are they shy? If so, they probably don’t want you in their face yelling at them. Each individual has preferences. Some people like loud and in their face. Some people like calmer, more strategic cheering. Try your best to match the person you are cheering on. You can do this by getting to know the people you are cheering on, and by asking them straight up, “Do you feed off of people cheering for you, or do you prefer people not cheer you on?”
  2. Be purposeful. Make sure your encouragement has a reason. Sometimes people are pacing and taking breaks on purpose in order to do better in the workout – are you yelling to try and get them to go faster when it’s not part of their plan? That probably doesn’t help. Are you randomly yelling for no reason? Or are you timing your encouragement for when people really need it?
  3. Read the Room. Adjust your energy to match the room. Is everyone else quiet during the workout but you’re yelling like a gorilla? Is everyone else super pumped up, but you’re not contributing? In addition, read the person/persons you’re cheering on. Does it seem to be helping, or is it annoying?
  4. Be Involved and Aware. Pay attention to what is going on and who hasn’t finished the workout yet, and support people that haven’t finished. 

The Do Nots

  1. Do not be obnoxious. Don’t be the person that everyone in the gym is annoyed with because you’re being 5x louder than the music. You want to have energy yet be tactful at the same time. Louder is not better. More is not better. It can be very off putting when you cheer people on too loudly or too aggressively. 
  2. Do not be aloof. On the opposite end of the spectrum are people that don’t care about where other people are in their workout. We all have a million things running through our mind and you’re already done with your workout, but not paying attention to others around you may come off as if you don’t care about being a community member.

The next time you’re cheering someone on in a workout, keep these things in mind. If you do that, you’ll be well on your way to helping create an awesome atmosphere in your gym, and making fitter friends!

Thanks for reading.


Learn More

To learn more about how we can help you on your fitness journey, click here to set up a Free Intro and follow Parkside CrossFit @parksidecrossfit and owners Connor Green @connorgreen24 and Pamela Matew @pambition.