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Warm Ups/Cool Downs

Restoration and Relief

As your class completes its final repetition, you look out at the 30 mounds of trembling muscle and think, “Should I let them leave like this?” Of course not! Your students would be exiting in worse condition than when they entered if you didn’t spend some quality time bringing down their heart rates and stretching their warm muscles. If participants leave before the hour is up, they leave with much more than they bargained for—shortened muscles, overstimulated sympathetic nervous systems and elevated blood pressure, breath and heart rates.

Stand Up for Flexibility

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.

Wordless Warm-Down

Water is a heat robber. If you’re not moving at a high enough rate to generate your own heat, water will bring your body temperature down to its level. So instead of a cool-down at the end of a water fitness workout, do a “warm-down.” The idea is to continue moving in order to generate heat, maintain comfort and avoid the “big chill.”

Stretching—A Research Retrospective

A primary function of muscles is to create tension and produce force for movement of the body’s skeletal system. The intrinsic property of muscles and joints to go through a full or optimal range of motion (ROM) is referred to as flexibility. It is developed through the use of various stretching procedures. Presently, uncertainty exists about some proposed benefits of flexibility, including its effect on injury avoidance, muscle soreness prevention, muscular strength training and performance improvement.

Drifting in Different Planes

Pilates instructors use many planes to help students achieve bodies that can move and work efficiently. Movement awareness and proper execution are a large part of the equation. The same benefits occur in a well-rounded group exercise experience in which you introduce various movement planes. By doing so, you help participants be better prepared to move in life.

Shake Up Your Warm-Up

Warm-ups can be boring and are often overlooked because we can hardly wait to teach that brand-new combination or hot new move! But with a little time and
effort, a really good warm-up can create amazing energy and set the tone for the rest of class. So how do you take something that seems so mundane and add a little soul and spice to it? Why not add some hip-shaking, finger-snapping, shoulder-shimmying movement to your next warm-up and get your students fired up from the very first beat?

Concentrate and Connect

You don’t have to teach a full mind-body class to pass along the benefits of mind-body moves to your participants. The cool-down portion of class—in which you bring down heart rates and core body temperatures—is a perfect time to introduce elements of tai chi and yoga. Participants sometimes have a difficult time making the transition from the work phase of class to this final section, and it can be a challenge to help them rein in their thoughts and concentrate.

A Stable and Unstable Warm-Up

If you’re like a lot of instructors, you tend to use the same warm-up over and over, regardless of the class. By adding a new piece of equipment like the BOSU Balance Trainer, you can turn an old warm-up into a fresh challenge for participants. You also expose students to equipment they might not have used before, which helps promote other classes on the schedule that utilize the same tool. In programs ranging from yoga and Pilates to strength and cardio, there are endless ways to use this fun equipment.

A Wet Wind-Down

Incorporating the noodle is one of my favorite cool-down strategies for a water class. It’s fun to use the noodle individually or—when you want to foster sociability—with partners. Water Walking (not pictured). Just as it’s…

Slow Down Aging With Interval Training

As we age, our hearts beat more slowly and pump less blood. Our lung capacity also decreases. These changes result in decreased maximal oxygen consumption, which causes less oxygen to reach muscles. Oxygen is the life fuel for muscles; without it, they simply cannot work. The decrease in muscle oxygen consumption is one of the main reasons why we slow down, grow weak and lose stamina as we age. Without speed, strength and stamina, we cannot do the basic activities of daily living that allow us to enjoy life, maintain health and remain independent.

Does Stretching Improve Performance?

There are numerous studies published on the effects of stretching on exercise performance. If you haven’t had time to read and cross-reference them all, you may be interested in a review of the research, published in the September/October issue of Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine (2004; 14 [5], 267–73).
According to this analysis, stretching immediately before exe…

Use the Cool-Down to Bond With Cyclists

Some cycling participants may feel like the cool-down is a waste of time and a cue that class is over. Their hearts aren’t pounding, their legs aren’t burning–nothing is happening, right? Wrong! As you know, the time spent transitioning out of hard-work zones into easy breathing and pedaling zones is time well spent. The cool-down allows for recovery at the cellular level and brings t…

Stay Seated!

The cool-down is as important as the highest hill we climb, the most challenging interval we push through and the hardest flat we race. However, to many participants the cool-down is a waste of time and a cue that class is over. Their hearts aren’t pounding, their legs aren’t burning—nothing is happening, right? Wrong! The time spent transitioning out of hard work zones and into easy breathing …

Sports Stretch on the Ball

Mobility and stability are essential elements of functional performance. An athlete may have acquired exceptional skill and be able to perform at an elite level; however, if the athlete hasn’t enhanced her foundation of mobility and stability to keep pace with the developing skill, performance m…

Kids on the Move

?As kids’ fitness
instructors, our challenge is to help children de­velop active, positive
lifestyles. In­tegrating knowledge and activity will help convince children
that exercise is important to their well-being and increase …

Flex & Relax

Are you interested in exploring moves but not ready to teach an entire class of them? Cool-downs are a great opportunity to introduce mindful exercises to students. The following movements will increase flexibility and help students feel relaxed as they head back into the “real world” outside the group exercise room. Connection TransitionThe cool-down slowly…

Step Into Namasté

Do your participants think the strength and cardio sections are the only important aspects of step class? The cool-down can be just as important, if not more so. While there are infinite ways to cool the body down, why not try adding yoga moves for stretching, balance and stabilization? Begin cooling down with basic grapevines and step-touches within a smaller range of motion, but make the moves d…

Magic in the Moment

When approaching the warm-up for a
kickboxing class, many instructors think
of it only as a way to physically prepare the
body. But what about warming up the
mind? You can also get your students
mentally prepared and in the moment.
This helps them benefit maximally from
the workout and is an essential ingredient
in the recipe for kickboxing success. By
taking th…

Twist the day away with Gyrotonic

Sabrina Aspesi straddles a wood and metal exercise machine that resembles a reincarnation of a medieval torture rack – complete with pulleys, chains and weight plates. Her torso bends forward and back, arms and hands pushing and pulling two large knobs in fluid, sweeping, circular movements – as if stirring a giant vat of milk.This is the Gyrotonic workout, a regimen that some fitness-in…

Suspension Training: How Risky Is It?

NAVY Seals are legendary for their tiptop physical condition, but have you ever wondered how they stay fighting fit out in the field?Aaron Baldwin, 43, who retired in December as a master chief in the Seals, used to make barbells out of nothing more than plastic milk jugs, fresh concrete and a sturdy tree branch. "We'd make one weight and use i…