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The First Step

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.

Why 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.

Try the 64-count warm-ups on page 77 in your next step class.

more tips for a winning beginning
  • 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.

    Please excuse our dust. This section of the article is still in the process of conversion to the web.

Fred Hoffman, MEd

Fred Hoffman, MEd, is the owner of Fitness Resources consulting services and the author of Going Global: An Expert's Guide to Working Abroad in the International Fitness Industry. The recipient of the 2019 IDEA China Fitness Inspiration Award and the 2007 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year Award, he holds a master's degree in health education from Boston University and has over 35 years of experience in the fitness and health industry. A member of the ACE board of directors, Fred's expertise has taken him to nearly 50 countries on six continents to speak at more than 200 conferences and conventions. In 2001, he was elected to the International Who's Who of Professionals. Certifications: ACE, ACSM

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