Don't overlook the warm-up as a successful start to your step class.
Several years after revolutionizing the fitness industry, step training remains a popular group exercise choice worldwide. It has evolved from “up, up, down, down” to a rich and diverse offering. Today’s step classes use complex choreography, multiple platforms and the latest dance moves on and around the step. But there is one constant essential: a proper warm-up.
The warm-up allows participants to experience movement patterns they will perform in the main workout (rehearsal effect) and demonstrates the skill level they will require. It sets the tone and creates an energizing and motivating atmosphere.
In step training, we step on, down and around a fixed object (the step platform). Therefore, we must include warm-up movements that explore the height, length and width of the step, as well as the space around it.
Here are a few suggestions on how to do this:
- Incorporate taps from the floor to the step to determine height as well as distance.
- Use my “6 counts on top” rule, which allows you to step onto and down from the platform without actually starting the stepping portion of class. For example, march on top (wide stance) 6 counts, or step “up, up, out, out, in, in” (and down, down). Another option: three alternating knees-up or hamstring curls on top.
- Include a “traveling” pattern, such as a grapevine, a step-touch, a shuffle or a march, to allow participants to discover the surrounding space, the distance from their neighbors’ steps and directional choreography variations.
- Use the warm-up to demonstrate the skill level required. Too complicated? You’ve already lost them.
- Review proper form and technique. We can all use a reminder!
- Keep arm movements simple and complementary to the foot patterns.
- Include dynamic stretches at the end of the warm-up. These will prepare participants for more energetic and powerful moves.
- Respect the industry-recommended music speed (128–30 beats per minute) to avoid injury and accommodate all levels.
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