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.
It’s been hard to find one word or phrase that captures all the different components needed to prepare the body for exercise. A warm-up induces thermogenesis to prepare bodily tissues for mobilization, but doesn’t necessarily follow a specific program design. Tissue prep is often associated with moves that promote length changes in addition to thermogenesis, as happens in a dynamic flexibility routine.
Movement prep focuses on the nervous system as well as tissue prep. Proprioceptive sensitivity, intracommunication preparation (neuromyofascial timing and sequencing) and whole-body facilitation are all included in movement prep. Dynamic flexibility routines again fall into this category, but movement prep can also include balance and counterbalance moves.
There is yet another warm-up component: load variability. Variable loading prepares the body’s timing so that it performs in tune with the workout’s rhythm. A great way to add load variability to movement prep is with the ViPR™, which is intended to be tilted, lifted and shifted (among other things). All three of these movements demand acceleration and deceleration. Though the mass does not change, the ViPR’s “felt weight” does, resulting in load variability.
Three Ways to Prepare the Body
A simple way to introduce the ViPR in a warm-up is to present a three-part series. Tilts are unique to this piece of equipment because they allow progressive loading (the body does not assume the entire load). One end of the ViPR remains in contact with the ground. Lifts (moving the ViPR up in the field of gravity) and shifts (moving the ViPR through the field of gravity) round out the series. With each of these options, you can use three categories of global movement patterns: stationary force (a static footprint with a push, pull, reach or rotation); level changes (squats, lunges, bends, etc.); locomotion (moving away from the starting floor space in any direction); or a combination of two or all three.
The ViPR not only offers variable and integrated loading in three planes of motion; it also drives triplanar movement, which is a useful skill to teach in many group exercise classes. Take tilts, for example. The hip drive exercise most commonly occurs in the opposite direction of the tilting ViPR. Tilting the ViPR across the body will most likely drive the thoracic spine into rotation. When you understand relative motion and how the body responds and communicates with intention-driven movements, you can help participants reach their full potential—whether they are tilting, lifting or shifting.