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Warm Ups/Cool Downs

Functional Strategies for Older Adults

Exercise for older adults is one of the hottest specialties in fitness today. How do you assess function levels and develop safe, challenging programs? We asked instructors to tell us about their strategies for senior clients.

Movement and Tissue Preparation

As a group fitness instructor, you already know the value of a warm-up and how it decreases injury risk and improves performance. Recently, our collective vernacular has expanded to include movement preparation (prep) and/or tissue prep as interchangeable terms for warm-up.

Stretches for Positive Aging

Do you know that one of the most effective, inexpensive and pain-free ways to look and feel younger is to exercise and perform daily stretches that ward off kyphosis (rounding of the thoracic spine, resulting…

Cool Down With the Stability Ball

Using the stability ball for cool-down stretches provides many benefits over traditional stretching. The ball’s reactive properties make stretching more dynamic, since balance, coordination and body awareness depend on certain muscles stabilizing while others stretch. Participants can modify moves by simply rolling deeper into the stretches or pulling back from them.

The Proper Preparation

When it comes to warm-ups, indoor cycling instructors often fall victim to the “oatmeal effect”—good for you, but not very memorable. It’s easy to just jump on a bike and ride. However, with a little creativity and skillful instruction, you can engage participants from the start. Be prepared, connect with riders and add a little ingenuity. Begin with a warm welcome and a short introduction, and then ride into one of the following warm-ups.

Spotlight on Stretching

Do you want to enhance your workouts and activities of daily living? Then improve your flexibility through stretching! To help you understand how to stretch in a safe, effective manner, Len Kravitz, PhD, program coordinator of exercise science and a researcher at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, shares guidelines and strategies for stretching.

Create a Finale

At the end of every thrilling fireworks show is a great finale. Wouldn’t it be anticlimactic to close with quiet music and a few sparse booms? Similarly, a heart-pumping, challenging class deserves its own finale. If you’ve ever spent an entire class energizing participants only to leave them slowly peeling themselves off the floor in a dark room half-asleep, read on for some fun ideas to help them walk out feeling invigorated and excited to come back.

Scripted Starts and Flawless Finales

Most group fitness instructors introduce and close their classes with some remarks to participants. Style will vary depending on personality, but openings and closings are always important opportunities. Petra Kolber, 2001 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year, says, “People may not always remember the actual choreography, but they will recall the first and last 5 minutes. Since we only have one chance to make a great first impression, being prepared for the beginning and ending is key for success.”

Can This Psoas Be Saved?

It’s no wonder the psoas are so misunderstood. The very process of naming these muscles connecting the top half of the body to the lower half has been a series of errors spanning four centuries.

Active-Aging Stretches

People invest a lot of money in the search for eternal youth. But one of the most effective, inexpensive and pain-free ways to look and feel younger is to exercise and perform daily stretches that ward off kyphosis (rounding of the thoracic spine, resulting in a hunched shape); that keep the spine mobile; that lengthen the quadriceps to help sustain a tall, lifted posture; and that maintain a healthy range of motion in the hips.

Buddy Up to Cool Down

Boot camp workouts are an intense, multifaceted way to get in shape. People get a chance to experience diverse movements while exploring a range of energy systems. It’s a well-rounded fitness opportunity for everyone, and there’s a bonus: the group training environment facilitates camaraderie and competition. Since intensity is high, heart rates will definitely be elevated, and muscles, joints, tendons and ligaments will experience various levels of overload. It is therefore absolutely essential to end with a cool-down.

Psoas Stretches Benefit Seniors

Improving inefficient gait patterns is often a focus among fitness professionals working with older adults. Walking problems can diminish independence and increase injury potential. A recent study suggests that regular stretching of the hip flexor muscles can improve gait patterns among this population. The purpose of a study published in PM&R (2011; 3 [4], 324–29) was to determine the effectiveness of a 10-week hip flexor stretching program on walking patterns among 82 older adults.

Cross-Train and Cross-Promote With Yoga

How many times does the staff email blast urge you to “talk up other classes on the schedule?” It’s a good idea, but by the time you get to the studio, cue the music and lead people through your own class, either you forget to mention the vinyasa yoga class or participants leave before the cool-down, which is when you usually share announcements. Why not use the warm-up instead? This dynamic, yoga-inspired warm-up works for a step, dance, boot camp or strength circuit class and serves many purposes:

The Stability Ball Challenge

You’ve spent a lot of time and energy working on your class, and you’re ready to wow your students with another great workout. But wait: How much effort did you really put into that warm-up? Not only does the warm-up set the stage for what’s to come; it also ensures a safe and effective environment for students. Don’t skim over this crucial opportunity to make a lasting impression.

Dynamic Warm-Up Best for Golfers

Are your golf clients determined to lower their handicap? According to researchers from Austin State University, Nacogdoches, Texas, golfers’ fairway performance was best after a dynamic warm-up and no static stretching. The study appeared in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research (2010; 24 [12], 3326–33) and included nine “young” male golfers.

Ending on a High Note

A cool-down that taps into the power of emotions makes a great ending for your class. Last impressions are lasting impressions. Whether your session was a huge success or didn’t go quite the way you had planned, a cool-down that connects movement to music will have participants leaving on a high note.

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