The Power of Non-verbal Communication

Last week I took my second deepwater aqua fit class. I’ve been taking shallow water aqua fit on and off since 2007, but deepwater takes it to a new level. To clarify, I’m not treading water while exercising for 45 minutes. We all wear a foam belt to keep us floating. But it’s still very challenging and a real workout for the core muscles.

During the first class, I found it a bit hard to hear the instructor. The music was blaring. It echoed and resonated loudly in the cavernous pool area. My body was in the middle of the pool and the instructor was standing on the edge. We had a few physical demonstrations. However, if I didn’t understand, I couldn’t really look at anybody else to figure out the movements. With everyone’s body submerged in water, we couldn’t glance at anybody else for pointers.

The second class I had a different instructor. She barely spoke a word the entire class. Instead she used her body, hands, and face to give us the exercises and counting. During our cardio portion, she even demonstrated how to slow down our breathing by pointing to her nose for inhale. Then opening her mouth and pointing to it for exhale. For other exercises, she sat in a chair to show us how to hold our bodies in the water for some of the leg and arm work. Throughout the class, she continually pointed to her abs and bum to remind us that both had to be working to keep us upright and in one place as we did the exercises.

I’m so used to instructors talking (sometimes too much) during exercise classes that I didn’t realize how powerful a simple, wordless demonstration could be. I found her method surprisingly effective and that it eliminated some of the confusion I felt in the first class. It was a good reminder of how important non-verbal communication can be. As we once again learn how to navigate the physical world after all the isolation and lockdowns, it will be interesting to observe these subtle non-verbal mannerisms that tell us so much with so few movements.

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