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Innovative Warmups

Be creative from the start!

Creative warmup

If you’re pressed for time and tempted to jump right in without properly warming up, think again! A progressive and thorough start will help your participants mentally prepare for their exercise session and will set the stage for better performance and less risk of injury.

Although the warmup can (and perhaps should) be simple, it doesn’t need to be boring—you can mix things up with unique sequencing and formatting.

Introduce students to the following creative warmups.


Repetition helps participants acclimate to and prepare for the workout. A ladder sequence is a great fit for most formats. Select several foundational exercises and instruct students to complete 2 repetitions, then 4, etc., increasing by 2 reps each cycle until you reach 10 of each move. Begin with limited ROM and gradually increase the range with each round.

  • Toe raise: Stand with feet hip-width distance apart. Swing arms overhead while lifting heels off floor. Return to starting position.
  • Squat: Stand with feet hip-width apart. Bend knees to 90-degree angle and flex slightly at hips. Return to standing.
  • Rear lunge: From standing, step right foot back and bend both knees to 90-degree angle, then return to starting position. Repeat left.
  • Plank and shoulder tap: Hold plank position and touch opposite shoulder with hand, alternating sides.
  • Pushup: Start in plank, hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, core engaged. Bend elbows and lower chest toward floor. Return to plank.

See also: Warmups to Get Wrist-Ready!

Every Minute on the Minute (EMOM)

The EMOM protocol is a great way to begin any drill-based class. Students work at their own pace for 5 minutes, completing a series of basic exercises for a predetermined number of reps. Each minute, instruct them to do 20 jumping jacks and then return to the sequence. If time allows, cycle through the series once or twice more. Grab your timer and give it a try!

  • Inchworm (2 reps): Stand with feet hip-width apart and fold forward from hips. Place hands on floor and “walk” forward to plank position. Pause, then return to standing.
  • Front lunge with rotation (4 reps): Step forward with R foot and lower into lunge. Rotate upper body R, keeping core engaged. Return to starting position. Repeat, L.
  • Lateral lunge (6 reps): Stand with feet hip-width apart. Take wide side-step R and bend knee about 90 degrees. Keep L knee straight, flexing slightly at hips. Return to starting position and repeat, other side.
  • Modified squat thrust (8 reps): Lower into squat and place hands on floor. Step back to plank; return to standing.

Circle Time

Many students use group fitness to make social connections. This warmup allows them to interact while preparing to sweat together! Keeping a safe distance apart, form a circle around the room’s periphery and complete the following exercises for 1 minute each.

  • Lateral shuffle: Stand with feet hip-width apart. Flex slightly at knees and hips. Step or shuffle R foot to side and follow with L foot, while extending at knees and hips.
  • Walking lunge and march: Step R foot forward and lower into lunge. Step L foot forward to return to standing. Repeat 4x, alternating sides. March back to starting position.
  • Plank walk: Begin in plank position. “Walk” in clockwise direction by stepping L hand and foot a few inches laterally. Follow with R side.
  • Repeat lateral shuffle, op-posite side.
  • Bound and jog: Begin in half-squat position, feet hip-width apart. Extend at hips and knees and jump forward, landing in half-squat. Repeat 3x and jog back.
  • Repeat plank walk, counterclockwise direction.

See also: A Powerful Warmup To Boost Workouts

Melissa Weigelt, MS

Melissa Weigelt is an ACE-certified group fitness instructor, NASM-certified personal trainer and vinyasa yoga instructor with 20 years of experience in the fitness industry. As an ACE- and AFAA-approved provider of continuing education for fitness instructors and a member of the BOSU® master trainer and development team, she enjoys sharing her knowledge and ideas with others.

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