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Irene Lewis-McCormick

"Irene McCormick, MS, is the 2018 IDEA Instructor of the Year and the senior director of fitness education for Orangetheory Fitness® in Boca Raton, Florida. Former adjunct faculty at Drake University, Irene is a master course instructor for TRX®, a lead conference educator for WaterRower®, a Savvier Fitness master trainer, a Ryka® brand ambassador and an award-winning conference educator. She has also written two books, and is a subject matter expert for ACE, NASM, Human Kinetics and Orangetheory."

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Article Archive

No-Equipment Outdoor Workouts

March 25, 2019

It’s that time of year when springtime reinvigorates clients and participants, coaxing them to come out of hibernation and play. Why not leave the fluorescent lights behind and take class outside? Parks, fields, even parking lots are great places to lead outdoor workouts. There are options for everyone—and you don’t have to lug around a bunch of equipment, either. Maximize your time and space by incorporating simple, effective body-weight exercises that improve strength, speed, power and flexibility.

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Cool Down With Reciprocal and Autogenic Inhibition Techniques

September 27, 2018

As you wind down your dance, step, strength or boot camp class, many attendees are uncoupling from your intentional instruction and preparing for the next stop in their busy days. Don’t let participants leave without a solid cooldown experience! Next time, as you lead the stretch, why not share a little science with them?

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3 Effective Abs Exercises Anyone Can Do

May 17, 2017

Essentially, any exercise that uses the anterior and/or posterior muscles to stabilize the spine—and is performed in a coordinated fashion—works the core. It’s important to include some kind of core moves in all classes, particularly those in which core training might not be emphasized. Try the following exercises in one of your next classes; these moves are appropriate in a range of settings and will be effective with various pieces of equipment.

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Foam Roller Reset

April 22, 2016

The foam roller, now a standard piece of equipment, is an excellent
tool for massaging soft tissue, realigning the spine, increasing core
stability and enhancing postural awareness. Using the foam roller at
the end of a group exercise class is a great way to “reset” and
encourage a progressive cool-down where the focus is on breathing and
overall relaxation. A standard-length foam roller (3 feet by 6 inches)
works best for this purpose.

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Tabata in Deep Water

July 24, 2014

Tabata training is a popular high-intensity interval training format consisting of 20 seconds of all-out, intense work followed by 10 seconds of passive recovery, totaling 4 minutes of very strenuous exercise. HIIT protocols such as Tabata are effective and promising for time-crunched exercisers whose goals are weight loss and performance enhancement. Deep-water exercise is a…

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Sample Class: Deep-Water Tabata

May 28, 2014

Tabata training is a popular high-intensity interval training format consisting of 20 seconds of all-out, intense work followed by 10 seconds of passive recovery, totaling 4 minutes of very strenuous exercise. HIIT protocols such as Tabata are effective and promising for time-crunched exercisers whose goals are weight loss and performance enhancement. Deep-water exercise is a great nonimpact fitness experience that includes full-body movements. Combine the two and you have a powerful HIIT workout that features all the intensity without the impact and joint stress.

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Shared Stretching

January 22, 2014

It’s important to end a hard workout with a proper cool-down to ensure that participants transition safely to “regular” activity. Teamwork is a focus in most boot camp classes, and partner stretches create a social environment where people can interact and find support.

Supine Hip Press
With Partner Plank

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Sample Class: Water Walking Routes

May 27, 2011

Inspiring sedentary and obese people to adopt healthy lifestyle changes can be a challenge. Even if you don’t teach water classes, here’s an opportunity for you to inspire others in a water environment. Lazy rivers—“streams” with slow-moving currents—are becoming popular at many recreation facilities across the country. Fitness instructors can take advantage of these unique water settings to teach morbidly obese, deconditioned, physically challenged or sedentary adults movements that they can perform successfully.

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Stand Up for Flexibility

April 21, 2010

The last few minutes of your group fitness class is the appropriate time to gradually cool the body down and stretch for improved muscular balance, body awareness and flexibility. Take advantage of warmer core temperatures, lubricated joints and the body’s preparedness for larger ranges of motion to lead a combination of static and dynamic stretches. If you encourage participants to remain standing, you can also work on balance skills.

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Core Training Duo

May 27, 2009

How do you transition students quickly from the main part of class to the core-conditioning exercises? With larger classes and limited space and equipment, you may want to add creative partner-based moves.

Both single and partner-based core-training exercises should target specific muscle groups. The core consists of many different muscles that stabilize the spine, pelvis and shoulder and provides a solid foundation for total-body movement. A strong core distributes weight-bearing loads and helps protect the low back.

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The Fitness Farm

March 31, 2008

Wake up your group strength or boot camp
warm-up with animal-themed movements that include static and dynamic stretches.
Encourage participants to focus on precision, breathing and progressions. Take
these moves through a full range of motion to increase the stretch. Remember
that not all exercises are appropriate for all populat…

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Make the Mind-Body Connection

August 31, 2003

By Irene Lewis-McCormick, MS

Make the Mind-Body Connection
How many of you took group fitness classes in the 1980s? Do you remember exercises that mimicked the “downward dog” and “plough” poses? During those years, many fitness instructors–specifically those who taught aerobics when it was associated with veterans Jacki Sorensen and Jane Fonda–used yogaand Pilates-based movements in their class…

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