Three E’s to Increase Participation

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We all want folks to participate in the work we do. As a coach the level of participation I get with a particular class can really impact my perception of success. This goes for the adult classes I instruct, the remote Weightlifters I interact with, and the children I teach movement skills to.

Here, and below by clicking the picture you can catch the tail end of a recent Kindergarten PE class that I taught. Running is something I myself have a hard time doing much of so you can imagine the level of enthusiasm most kiddos attack it with.

I was really happy on all level regarding this class. The kids had fun, worked hard, and moved a little better. All class do not end on such a high note and to be truthful, some go much better.

There are times when I captive my group.

There are moments when I lose the group.

There are also times when I just get through working with a group.

It is easy to place a win or loss next to each of the above general outcomes. More important however is to find a learning experience to grow from in each session so you can simply improve your delivery of the content.

This may seem obvious. However, as a coach I often feel like I have to always win the day in order to… well… win the day. That’s certainly not an attainable task. No one ever went undefeated for life in anything.

With that in mind I wanted to share a simple concept that I use with each lesson, session, and/or person I interact with to get them on board with the task of the day. Yes, I am a coach and the video accompanying this idea demonstrates these ideas in a movement setting. That said, this simple concept can be used with a facebook group, in a PT clinic, or while running a book group.


Anyone leading other folks has to grab their interest. The tricky part is that there is no cookie cutter way to do this. Young, old, big, small, healthy, sick, tired, and whatever other sort of person you can imagine are going to walk into an interaction with baggage you have to sift through.

Take for instance the kindergarten kiddos in this clip. Our school doesn’t have a gym, the parish hall where we take rainy classes was in use, and we had no choice but to be outside.

This situation had its challenges. I could have dribbled off about adversity to this group but that message would have fallen on “young” ears. Instead I played to the age of the group and reminded them before class started how fun running in puddles was. Once we flipped the script in the direction of fun, introducing running concepts as a way to make a bigger splashes, the kids were ready to work.

For me, the best way to ENGAGE a group is to have a pulse on that groups interest. Spend a moment before working with any group or person learning about them so you can relate to them. If you can relate to their interests, you can then relay your content and message.


Humans are naturally curious. I really don’t think this ever changes. Yes, interests may differ but who isn’t excited to get some new nugget of info. Again, going back to engagement its the instructors job to place the new information being delivered into context so that the group or individual taking in the information sees value in it.

The kiddos in this class could care less about injury rates, force production, and performance. However, letting them know that you can make a bigger splash by trying a few new concepts out can do a lot to increase running awareness.

The point here is that seniors citizens and kindergarten kiddos alike all light up when new info comes their way. This is especially true if they see that information as useful.

3 – Entertain

Personally, I can go a lot of places to learn something. The fact is this day and age anyone can. For me to go into the room, click the link, buy a ticket, or take time out of my day to take in a piece of content I really think it has to have some sort of entertainment value.

For instance, the other day my 7 year old son was on his iPad looking up ideas for building with legos. I asked him why he choose a particular video and he said, “these guys are funny.”

In the clip at the top of this email I used the game of tag and the idea of jumping in puddles to entertain the kiddos. As you can see the desired outcome was accomplished. The kiddos not only ran, but ran hard and for some, a little better than the session before.

As a coach, sets, reps, and movement prescription really matter. Everything you do should be very thoughtful.

With that in mind get away from the technical cues and think a little on these 3 E’s of participation before you interact with your next athletes, group, or even social media tool.

Engage, educate, and entertain the the folks that you interact with and I bet you’ll see participation increase and you will have a little more fun as well.

Let me know how it goes.

For more on my daily interactions with the kiddos at St. Nicholas, adult athletes, and even my family be sure to give me a Follow on the instagram (@joesbarbell), listen to the Everyday Weightlifter Podcast, and just stay tuned to the content coming your way on this list!

In fact, if you have a question about anything reply to this email and I’d love to chime in with my $00.03!

Thanks for following along!

PS… if you missed the clip click here it is! I have to say its adorable and inspiring to watch kids get after it!

Double Secret PS! If you want some specific on the running progression and how I adapted the theme of the day to relate to 8th grade students I’d be happy to chat! Reply to this email with AGE UP or set up a call here!