Bonjour , j'apprends le français

Someone once told me that when you begin to dream in french, is when you know “the click” is coming soon.

Last night I had a dream. I dreamt that my 4 year old nephew, who has yet to venture outside the United States, but is vaguely aware of a place called Paris, looked up at me with his big blue eyes and said something quite sophisticated, in fact, rather poetic, in french.

Unfortunately I couldn’t understand a word.

I’ve lived in Paris for 2 years, 5 months, and 4 days. Upon arrival, I didn’t know anything about cheese, how to ask for a less cooked croissant, or more broadly.. how to speak french at all.

I started taking private lessons with a lovely french woman who taught me how to be polite. Apparently when you enter a room you must say Bonjour to everyone. If I did that in NYC, someone would immediately call the police. She also taught me how to conjugate verbs and form simple sentences like, “Bonjour, j’apprends le français”, which is very helpful when I’m asked to give my opinion on french political matters.

It’s a complicated relationship. Some days I wake up, and french flows freely while other days I can’t speak a word. Living in France and learning to speak french has taught me so much. However, I think the most powerful lessons I’ve learned are to listen and to be patient.

When I communicate with someone in french I must listen with every bit of myself. One little distraction and I’ve lost context. If I manage to understand and feel confident enough to respond, I have to think a lot about what I want to say and how to say it. Usually by the time I’ve figured out what to say, the subject has past.. so you see, it is necessary to be patient.

The love hate relationship continues and I wonder if I will ever speak french fluently. People say it takes 6+ years to fully learn a language, but that’s a huge generalisation and very frustrating form of encouragement !

I’m sure my nephew had something special to say in my dream. Perhaps he was telling me “the click” is coming soon, or maybe he wasn’t speaking french at all. I guess I’ll let you know in 6 years.

Find Your Authentic Voice

It was 8am on a Saturday morning and I convinced myself to get out of bed for a HIIT class. After a stressful week at work I was determined to have a detox weekend, packed with fitness, yoga, and green juice.

I was lucky enough to meet the Coach before the class. Considering the terrifying description of the course, I was pleasantly surprised at her kindness. Her voice was gentle, she took time to listen, and had a twinkle in her eye as if she just discovered a new passion for life. I was ready for her to commence my weekend of wellness.

In the classroom the coach flopped her flowing blonde locks into a messy bun on the top of head and strapped on a microphone. She smiled. And something changed… her forehead wrinkled, her eyes glazed over and went into airplane mode, and her sweet gentle voice was no longer human, it was closer to the sound of a robot. In fact, she was screaming into the microphone.

She was not authentic. She was FITNESS COACH !!!!

Finding your authentic voice may seem easy, yet it’s one of the most common struggles for fitness instructors. Something horrible happens to coaches when they feel the spotlight and turn on the microphone. They often become drill sergents or weird robots, repeating the same class over and over again.

It’s even more challenging to naturally use inspirational phrases or quotes. Emotive coaching only works with an authentic voice. Otherwise it is communicated fake, corny, or too esoteric.

An authentic voice takes time and practice to discover. My training for coaches involves theatre exercises, vocal warm-ups, and personal development. First you must know yourself. You must be content and confident with your true self before you can guide others to wellness. Then we find the natural voice and exlpore how to make it dynamic while staying authentic. Then we practice the Stanislovski Method to deepen our understanding of emotions and emoting.

To begin this jounrey, try some pillar rules in your next class :

Be open and listen to your audience

Connect with your audience

Believe in what you say

When you rehearse this way, your natural voice will emerge at the right moment and your audience will know you’re the real thing.

 

Why Music Motivates Us

If I showed up for a spin class and learned that the sound system was down, I’d go the front desk, ask for my money back, and head home.

Music is a huge motivator in fitness, which is one reason I’m willing to pay $35 for a class with a carefully selected list of inspiring tunes.

Turns out, I’m not alone.

People use music to distract themselves from the pain and fatigue of a challenging workout. We also use it to boost mood, increase endurance, and motivation to push through an anaerobic state.

When designing a workout playlist, focus on tempo, rhythm response, and emotional response.

Tempo

a.k.a. the pace of a song

  • Most people use fast songs with strong beats at 120 beats per minute (BPM) to motivate a challenging workout.
  • You can use tools like Tangerine or Beatunes to programmatically determine the BPMs of your entire iTunes library.
  • If you’re a runner, try using songs that match the cadence of your pace. BPMs ranging from 160-180 put you at a great fat burning zone.
  • Running at 180 BPM is a 7 minute mile. Even if you can’t keep up with the rhythm, it’s a great indicator of your goal pace.

Rhythm Response

a.k.a. how much a song makes you want to move

  • This is different for everyone depending on your taste. Listen to all kinds of music and see which genre makes you boogie. I personally can’t help but move when I hear Rudimental.

Emotional Response

a.k.a how the song makes you feel

  • It’s not just about selecting high-energy fast paced songs. Music can evoke emotions and memories that could enhance our fitness.
  • Have you ever listened to a motivational speech that made you want to jump up and down? Or screamed your guts out in the shower to your go-to break up song? I know I have. (ahem.. Kelly Clarkson, I love you.)
  • Working out to songs that relate to your current mood can enhance your physical exertion.

Why Music Encourages Us to Keep Moving

A recent study done by psychologist Costas Karageoghis of Brunel University discovered what and why music motivates us to move.

Distraction

Not many people actually enjoy working out. Music distracts us from the physical pain. Some people even claim to forget they’re even working out when listening to music.

Companionship

Working out alone sucks. We feel less lonely (and more likely to lift that extra rep) when Beyonce is there with us.

Perceived Exertion

Sometimes we don’t even realize how hard we’re working when the beat drops and we go 100 percent. Try planning your intervals to correlate with big moments in the music. You might be surprised at how hard you can push yourself!

Emotional Lyrics

Music can evoke feelings of anger, sadness, excitement, anxiety, and much more. Workout to music that you can relate to and use it as a cathartic outlet.

Coordination

There’s a reason spin, dance, and kickboxing use heavy beats. Music helps us remember our right from our left, and it’s a super power when attempting fitness moves that seem impossible.

Primal Association

Back in the day (before synthesizers) people created music by moving. They clapped their hands, stamped their feet, and hit things to make fast sound.

Perhaps it’s evolutionarily ingrained in our heads- music therefore movement.

Music is powerful

 “[Music is] a type of legal performance enhancing drug.” — Costas Karageoghoris

Fitness companies don’t take this lightly. In fact, some luxury gyms in NYC are paying instructors six figure salaries to master music design. 

In 2007, the Marine Corps Marathon banned runners from using portable music players. They claimed it had to do with safety rules but now the rule only applies to people vying for awards and money. Sounds like a performance enhancer problem to me.

Music is a powerful tool. When curated properly, it can motivate us to do achieve the impossible

 

Make something people love

This is a summary of an online class taught by Alexis Ohanian. 

Alexis Ohanian is a co-founder of Reddit and modern day philosopher, interested in creating value. His class can be found on the General Assembly website

Here are few highlights I found worth sharing:

Introduction

Identify a problem and solve it. When selling your solution, communicate from the inside out.

People don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do. — Simon Sinek

We ought to ask ourselves the following questions:

Why? Why do you wake up in the morning and want/crave/need to solve this problem?

How? How are you attacking the problem?

What? What is the solution?

Community

Create a community. A strong community always starts with a founder who cares… a LOT. Hire and sell to people who also care and believe in what you believe.

Treat your first 100 clients like gold. Always reply to their feedback and remember to say thank you. If you’re a non-social website, create a community by engaging people on social media channels.

Go above and beyond to make customers happy. Monitor the web for people asking questions and be helpful. The questions don’t always have to be about your brand- as long as you’re providing value.

Connection

Treat your customers like your friends. Always say thank you and handle your fails with candor.

Write content that’s useful to your customers. Infographics are a great way to visualize an idea or data. Let the community define the direction of your content.

Give your customers something to be excited about. Inspire them to be better. Alexis held a fundraiser to build a school in Africa and tracked the progress with photos on the company blog. His community of users became more emotionally invested and excited about his company.

Design

Great user experience is good communication. If you create a horrible user experience, customers will be offended. It’s as if you don’t care about their experience enough to make it enjoyable.

If you’re looking for a good start-up idea, start a list of websites with bad user experience. Identify the core problem, throw everything out, and create a simple solution.

Write interesting copy for your website. Even the most boring pages should be an opportunity to communicate with your customers in a unique way.

Take Aways

Be passionate about why you do what you do.

Make your product easy to use.

Treat your customers well.