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Are you using ‘circle questions’ or ‘ice breakers’ in your classes?
Some gyms make it an everyday thing, others may make it more sporadic, but if you aren’t using them at all you are missing out on a huge opportunity!
Most people think of ice breakers when it comes to building bonds between strangers and avoiding the awkward invisible ‘ice’ that seems to keep people from getting to know each other. As we coaches get to know our members more intimately, and they get to know each other, we may forget that getting people to open up with each other is a powerful tool for creating connection and community.
There is always a place for simple and easy questions, but a lot of the time, these questions get boring and many coaches struggle with coming up with new ones. Random questions like “what is your favorite cereal?” maybe nice on a busy day, but answering it a few times a year can get old.
I am more of a fan of questions that challenge people to give a snapshot into their upbringing, their world outlook, their likes/dislikes, etc. It is a great opportunity for you to learn more about your members so you can help them have better lives!
You will also want to keep in mind that one of the ways people feel comfortable around strangers and loose acquaintances is to find common ground. The new people coming into the gym are probably FAR more intimidated than they’ll put on. The closer the ‘veterans’ are, the more intimidating it can be to break into that group of friends. By getting everyone to say their names and give up a little information, we help create bonds between long term members as well as help lubricate the connection between the new people and the old. It gives them something to talk about during the awkward silences that can occur when two or more people are standing in close proximity (and they don’t have anything to talk about).
Attached is a list of more than 300 questions you can ask. First, they are categorized by short, medium, and long answers. Then we have them broken out by ‘deep’, ‘interesting’, ‘easy’, and ‘silly’.
If you have a large class, the short ones are best. If there is a lot of people who don’t know each other, maybe stick with the ‘easy’ and ‘silly’ ones. If you have a smaller group, and especially if the people are more than just acquaintances, go with the longer questions and use more ‘deep’ and ‘interesting’ ones.
If you have more that you use on a regular basis, please send them my way so we can add them to the list!
It is great if you can get these done early in the class, but don't have people stand around for a few minutes as you go around the circle. It is best if you announce the circle question, answer it yourself, and then have people answer it as they do the warm up, mobility, and even the lifting portion!
Print these out and keep them in a folder at the gym. You could also put them on the wall for easy reference. Someday, we may have some sort of poster for you to use!
You may also want to be on the lookout for some of these showing up on my @coachj2s Instagram feed. We have been trying to figure out how to get one or two of these out each day for months, but I am not a social media ninja (to say the least)!
I hope this helps you with the community part of the gym. Just like snatches, some people in our charge will seem to be naturals and others will really struggle. Use these as a daily practice to make them feel like they are really part of the group! For some, it may be the first time they have felt like this in a long time – if ever!
Click here to go over to the catalog and download the list for free!
More on Ice Breakers – MindTools.com