fbpx Skip to content


Sample Class: Cardio, Core and Balance

People taking part in a cardio core and balance class

If your students enjoy a challenging workout but you sense they may be growing bored with your traditional HIIT class, try adding unique bonus exercises to keep people interested, engaged and motivated! This cardio, core and balance class incorporates lower-intensity (but not easy!) unilateral balance and core moves in between cardio intervals. Your participants will appreciate the additional benefits—including greater body awareness—and enjoy how the moves carry over into their daily lives. Help students improve their performance, while still providing a heart-pumping workout they’ll love.

Cardio, Core and Balance Details

Time: 40 minutes

Format: cardiovascular conditioning, functional balance and core training

Equipment: medicine balls and steps

Music: any motivating playlist

Additional details:

  • Each block includes high-intensity cardio exercises that utilize multiple muscle groups and quickly increase heart rate.
  • Unilateral balance and isometric core exercises allow time for recovery between the cardio intervals.
  • A timed approach lets participants determine their own work rates.
  • Work and recovery intervals last 30 seconds to 1 minute each.


  • Use the rating-of-perceived-exertion scale (1–10) during the work phase. Effort may range from hard (RPE of 7) to very hard (RPE of 9).
  • Rest for 2–3 minutes between blocks.

Warmup: No Equipment (5 minutes)

Cycle through the following, 10 reps of each, 3x.

  • Heel raise: Stand with feet hip-width apart. Lift heels off floor and swing arms overhead. Return to start.
  • Modified squat thrust: Squat and step into plank. Step forward and stand.
  • Plank shoulder taps: Begin in plank position. Tap left shoulder with right hand. Return to start; repeat, other side.
  • Plank knee tuck: From plank, bring R knee to chest and return to start; repeat, L.

See also: Sample Class: Barre-Cardio-Core

Work Phase (30 minutes)

Do each exercise for 1 minute. Repeat sequence 2x.

Block 1: Medicine Ball

Cardio: Squat Thrust

  • Stand, holding ball in front of hips.
  • Squat and place ball on floor.
  • Jump back to plank, hands on ball.
  • Jump in and stand while swinging ball overhead.

Alignment tip: Brace core when landing in plank position.

Progression: Jump while reaching ball overhead.

Regression: Step instead of jumping into plank position.

Balance: Alternating Single-Leg Deadlift

  • Stand, feet hip-width apart, holding medicine ball in front of hips.
  • Hinge forward while extending L leg back until parallel to floor.
  • Return to start; repeat, R.

Alignment tip: Keep spine extended.

Progression: Reach ball forward during deadlift.

Regression: Keep rear foot on floor while hinging from hips.

Cardio: Squat Jump

  • Stand, holding medicine ball in front of chest.
  • Squat and reach ball toward floor.
  • Extend at knees and hips, and jump while reaching ball overhead.

Alignment tip: Squat with upright posture.

Progression: Keep arms straight while reaching overhead.

Regression: Perform without jumping.

Core: Extended Plank

Hold plank with hands on ball, about 6 inches in front of shoulders.

Alignment tip: Maintain straight line from heels to shoulders.

Progression: Bring hands further forward.

Regression: Drop knees to floor.

Block 2: No Equipment

Do each exercise for 45 seconds. Repeat sequence 3x.

Cardio: Skater

  • Balance on R leg.
  • Leap laterally, landing on L foot while hinging slightly at knee and hip.
  • Repeat, other side.

Alignment tip: Keep core engaged.

Progression: Increase hip hinge and reach for floor when landing.

Regression: Reduce range of motion.

Balance: Quadruped Hover With Hip Extension

  • Begin in quadruped position.
  • Tuck toes and lift knees about 2 inches off floor.
  • Extend R leg until parallel to floor.
  • Return to center and then repeat, L.

Alignment tip: Keep shoulders over wrists.

Progression: Reach opposite arm forward while extending at hip.

Regression: Keep knees on floor.

Cardio: Mountain Climber Twist

  • Start in plank position.
  • Bring R knee in toward L elbow; jump to switch sides.
  • Repeat, alternating sides.

Alignment tip: Keep hips level throughout movement.

Progression: Increase speed.

Regression: Don’t jump.

Core: Hollow Hold

  • Begin supine, arms extended overhead.
  • Properly engage core.
  • Lift legs, upper back and head off floor.

Alignment tip: Press lower back into floor.

Progression: Bring arms and legs closer to floor.

Regression: Flex at hips and knees.

Block 3: Step

Do each exercise for 30 seconds. Repeat sequence 4x.

Cardio: Box jump

  • Stand behind step, feet hip-width apart.
  • Flex slightly at knees and hips while bringing arms down and back.
  • Extend at knees and hips while swinging arms overhead. Land on top of step.
  • Step down and repeat.

Alignment tip: Extend fully at hips before stepping down.

Progression: Increase step height.

Regression: Step up instead of jumping.

Balance: Front Lunge to Single-Leg Balance

  • Stand behind step, feet hip-width apart.
  • Step R foot on top of step.
  • Lower into lunge position.
  • Extend at knees and hips while raising L knee up to balance on R leg.
  • Return to lunge position and step back to starting position.
  • Repeat, other side.

Alignment tip: Track knee over middle toe when lowering into lunge.

Progression: Increase ROM.

Regression: Bring rear foot to top of step instead of balancing on one leg.

Cardio: Incline Plank Jack

  • Start in plank position, hands on step, feet on floor.
  • Jump feet apart, then together.
  • Repeat for time.

Alignment tip: Maintain soft knees when landing.

Progression: Lower step height.

Regression: Step wide instead of jumping.

Core: Decline Plank

Hold plank with feet on step and hands on floor.

Alignment tip: Keep head in line with spine.

Progression: Increase step height.

Regression: Place knees on step instead of feet.

See also: Balance and Stability

Cooldown (5 minutes)

Hold each of the following for 30 seconds:

  • Standing quadriceps stretch: From standing position, grasp R ankle and bring it toward buttock. Repeat, L.
  • Standing calf stretch: Stand with feet hip-width apart. Step R foot forward. Bend R knee and lean forward while keeping L heel on floor. Repeat, other side.
  • Forward fold with chest expansion: Stand with feet hip-width apart and fold forward from hips. Clasp hands behind back and slowly extend.
  • Seated twist: Start seated, legs crossed. Reach arms overhead and rotate torso R, placing L hand on R knee and R hand on floor behind hips. Use arms as leverage to gently increase twist. Repeat, other side.
  • Prone back extension: From prone position, place hands beside shoulders and press up to extend spine, keeping hips on floor.
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.

Related Articles

When you buy something using the retail links in our content, we may earn a small commission. IDEA Health and Fitness Association does not accept money for editorial reviews. Read more about our Terms & Conditions and our Privacy Policy.


November-December 2020 IDEA Fitness Journal

Concerned about your place in the new fitness industry? We have 40 years of experience supporting pros just like you! Let’s create a new wellness paradigm together—IDEAfit+ is the extra edge you need. Once you team up with IDEA, be sure to take full advantage of all the benefits of membership.