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 populations. Choose the ones
that work best for your students, based on their goals and on exercise

Cuckoo Clocking

Have the “time” of your life performing
this series of lunges inspired by a clock face (cuckoo optional). Begin with
feet together and step right foot forward into a series of lunges that follow
the numbers on a clock (12:00, 1:00, 2:00, etc.). When you step back from 6:00,
switch to left leg and continue around to 12:00. Repeat from left leg
counterclockwise, switching to right leg at 6:00 to complete the series.


Take this move inch by inch, starting
with plank pose (hands under shoulders, spine extended with arms and feet
supporting the body). Slowly walk feet toward hands (about four steps), and
lift hips to ceiling. Walk hands forward about two steps more. Lower body into
plank position again. Repeat 8–10 times.


Stand out in the crowd with this
one-legged balance exercise. Start in standing position and abduct shoulders.
Engage upper-back muscles and reach out through fingertips. Lean forward and
hinge from hip, fully extending back leg and engaging gluteals. Lengthen
hamstring of supporting leg, and balance. Hold for 10 seconds then switch legs.
Repeat 3–4 times.

Moo and Meow, Cat and Cow

Begin in quadruped position. For cat
stretch, inhale and pull abdominal muscles up and in. For cow, exhale and
gently arch the back, bringing tailbone up, lifting chin and opening throat
without stressing neck. Alternate cat and cow, moving through each spinal
position 3–5 times.

Careful to Bear Crawl

Begin in quadruped position. Raise hips
slightly higher than shoulder height (knees are off the ground) and slowly walk
hands and feet forward in opposition. For example, as you move right hand
forward, left foot will follow. Travel the length of the floor, or repeat the
basic move (all four limbs) 8–10 times.

Go Bananas for Monkey

Flex forward
from hips, keeping back flat.
Anchor hands on shins. Keep knees flexed
and spine straight, neck extended. Retract scapulae. Hold for 6–10 counts, then
return to upright posture. Repeat 3 times.

Don’t Get Stung Scorpion

Lie prone with
flexed arms extended to sides at shoulder level. Engage abdominal muscles and
bring right leg back and over to left side, rotating from waistline. Reach
behind and to side of body and attempt to touch floor. Return to start position
and repeat on left side. Perform 6–8 repetitions.

Modified Pigeon

From plank
pose, bring right knee forward toward left hand. Support body weight with arms
and allow right knee to rest on floor. Right hip and leg may also rest gently.
Hold 2–3 seconds and return to plank pose. Do the same on opposite side. Repeat
on both sides 5–8 times.

Irene Lewis-McCormick, MS, is a writer, a national fitness
presenter and the recreation & wellness coordinator at Des Moines Area
Community College in Ankeny, Iowa. Julie Vardaman is a personal trainer and
triathlete in Ames, Iowa.