The art of creating great group fitness classes comes when you understand how to put just as much attention to the beginning and end of the workout as you do to the middle portion of the class. Use the following tips to create fully comprehensive and complete classes.
Creating Active Warm-ups
It’s time to take a cue from the world of strength and conditioning and utilize an active dynamic warm-up (ADW) within your classes. This is vital as many participants enter classes after spending hours sitting behind desks or in cars. Their hips are tight, their muscles are cold and their ligaments aren’t ready for the demands of high-intensity workouts. And this means you must do more than an accelerated warm-up and laps around the room.
A solid ADW includes six phases, which last anywhere from 10-20 minutes. This outline can easily be manipulated for use in any group fitness workout to make it appropriate for the flow of class.
1. Core Activation
This includes exercises such as planks, bridges, and other movements that utilize muscles of the abs, obliques, lower back and glutes.
2. Multiplanar Movements
This includes squats and lunges that work in all three planes of motion (e.g., walking lunges or rotational squats).
This section starts to build heat in the body with across-the-floor variations of skips, shuffles and cariocas, all focusing on controlled movements that engage the tendons and ligaments of the ankles, knees and hips in preparation for running, jumping and squatting during the workout.
4. Dynamic Stretches
This includes movements that lengthen the muscles and build body awareness, such as inchworms, lunge and twist, knee to chest, high kicks or downward dog push-ups.
5. Build Up Runs
Across-the-room runs that build with intensity, starting at 50% and building to 90-95% after six to eight runs.
6. Closed-chain Isolated Exercises
This includes isolated movements such as leg swings to focus specifically on different joints and ranges of motion.
When developed with the focus and intent of the class, this type of active dynamic warm-up featuring movement preps and gradual progression of movement ensures participants are warm from the “inside-out.” Remember, the general goal of an effective ADW is to prepare the muscles, tendons, joints, ligaments and the stretch-reflex cycle to be ready when called upon versus jumping into intense movements at the beginning of class.
Keep Them There to the End