Group classes are great, but sometimes what the instructor is saying can leave you feeling a little confused. Surely it’s not physically possible to elongate your spine without breaking your back in the process! Trainers use these cue phrases to quickly get through what you should be doing during your workout, but it doesn’t help if you have no idea what they mean. We’ll explain some of the most commonly heard gym lingo so you can read up and go to class knowing exactly how to square your hips!

‘Engage your core’

A gym lingo classic, this one comes up all the time – it’s your instructor’s way of reminding you to tense your abs! It’s so often used for a couple of reasons. Your core is really important for your whole body’s stability – tensing (or ‘engaging’) your core will ensure you can hold poses and avoid injury. Tensing your core also ensures that you’re working the muscles during your workout – so you can get that killer stomach and abs! An important note is that engaging your core is not the same as sucking in your stomach – you should be tensing the muscles in your stomach and back. You also might hear ‘knit your ribs’ – don’t rush for the needles and thread, just remember to engage your core!

‘Elongate your spine’

As well as sounding super painful, this phrase can also be confusing – how do you ‘lengthen’ your spine? True, it’s impossible to lengthen the actual bones in your spine, but it is possible to stretch the muscles surrounding those bones. Sitting at a desk all day is bad for your posture, and this phrase essentially means stretching out your back like you do when you sit up straight with correct posture!

‘Square your hips’

This instruction is used in many different types of classes, and can mean a couple of different things. If you’re standing, it’s also sometimes referred to as ‘neutral pose’ – make sure your hips and shoulders are aligned and your hips are pointing forward – simple! During other workouts, ‘square your hips’ is instructing you to be wary of keeping your hips in line and forming a right angles with the floor. You need to be mindful of this as not only is it good form, it’s also pretty important to keep you balanced, so you don’t topple over in your yoga pose!

‘Push your shoulders down’

Although it may sound simple, many people ignore this and assume they’re already doing it. We carry tension in our shoulders, so if you’ve had a stressful day you may not even notice that you’re tensing up! Be mindful of relaxing your shoulders – elongate your neck, pull your shoulder blades back and allow your shoulders to sink, it’ll loosen you up in no time!

‘Stay light on your feet’

As much as you’d love to be as light-footed as a professional athlete, often you can be heavier with them than you intend to be! You’re likely to hear this phrase during high intensity workouts, as it ensures your muscles take the brunt of any force and not your joints – another injury prevention tactic. To keep light on your feet, place more weight onto your toes. If you’re jumping, land toes first and then roll back into the balls of your feet – no more clomping around during your workout!

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