There’s no such thing as multitasking… Is there?

The other day I invited an Attack instructor candidate, who is just finishing his training, to coach one or two tracks in my Monday lesson. Because one thing is quite clear – the more he practices, the more confident he becomes on stage and the better his classes become. More practice for the coach means a greater fitness experience for the participants and that is, after all, what is most important to us.

He chose tracks 1 and 2 – not an easy choice. Track 1 is often decisive for the development of the whole class: Here we connect with the participants, we not only have to warm up our bodies, but also the atmosphere – even though we may not have gotten there yet ourselves. Depending on how the day went, this can be quite a challenge. But of course he was allowed to take over the two tracks, I stayed at his side as a “shadow”.

I really had to smile, because during these 10 minutes I was transported 1,5 years back to my own first classes after the training…

I dare to say that the coaching was virtually identical: It consisted mainly of the (not always timely) announcement of the exercises and isolated safety instructions regarding their execution.
At the beginning nothing more is possible, because as a newcomer you are so busy with yourself and the choreography (“Oh sh**, what’s next again?”, “Uhmm, do I have to say right or left?”, “My God, they can hear me puffing loudly through the microphone…!” etc.) that you just can’t get the other things right anymore.

Don’t get me wrong, he did a good job, after all it was his first real performance, in a real hour, in front of real participants. But this experience made me realize what we instructors do in our classes:

  1. Choreo: We listen to the music and have to know which moves are repeated when, in which rhythm, in which direction and how often.
  2. Technique: We have to perform the moves in a technically correct way, coordination and balance have to be right.
  3. The performance level is also important. Of course it depends on our own daily fitness on the one hand, but at the same time it should be adapted to the composition of the group. Bodyattack in particular is a highly intensive (interval) training in which we – instructors and participants – demand a lot from our bodies.
  4. Coaching:
    • We tell the participants at the right moment what they should do next. There is nothing more frustrating for the participants than not coming along because the instructor tells them too late (or too early) what to do.
    • Sometimes we make a new movement a few beats earlier, as a “preview”, to show them what comes next while the participants are still at the previous exercise.
    • We teach the participants in words and visually how to perform the moves in a technically correct way so that they don’t get hurt and get the most out of their training.
    • We do all moves mirror-inverted: We say right, but we do left. (This was one of the biggest challenges for me at the beginning – and actually by now I really don’t know where right and left is anymore. A real problem when someone has to guide me e.g. in a car: “Yeeeee which right side does he mean…?”).
    • We consciously perceive what the participants do so that we can correct them if necessary and we also see how they react to us and our coaching. Does anyone here need a certain kind of motivation to give more? Is someone not feeling well, but maybe doesn’t want to show it? Empathy is a very important aspect in our courses.

And these were only the most important points! What I am getting at is this: During our courses, not only do our muscles perform at their best, but there is a multitude of simultaneous or time-shifted processes that our brain consciously or unconsciously sets in motion.

This in turn means one thing: The processes that recur time and again – i.e. our choreography in the very first place, but of course also our execution technique and basic coaching – must be automated as quickly as possible so that we can consciously deal with the respective “individual challenges” in each class.

Of course, beginners do not yet have these automatisms. They form over time – with the second, third release you already notice a clear difference. And the more you practice at the beginning, the faster this will happen.

That’s why I invited our new colleague to come back next week. 🙂

P.S. I don’t believe in multitasking by the way. Multitasking does not exist. At least not in the way it is often interpreted in professional life, namely that you write three emails at the same time, make one phone call and contemporarily listen to your colleague’s stories. No, the brain has been proven to be able to deal with only one process at a time. Several tasks can at most be worked on alternately by constantly shifting our attention back and forth between them.

Multitasking only works if we do not have to think about one or more of the processes running at the same time, i.e. they run automatically. Then one can at the same time consciously engage with another thing that requires concentration. This is multitasking – and this is what we do in our classes.

Picture and further interesting information regarding multitasking: and especially concerning the performance of our brains in our Les Mills Classes:

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