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Sample Class: Second-Chance Recess

Do you remember being a kid? Before you could even pronounce “perceived exhaustion” or “cardiovascular exercise,” you were running around outside with friends, playing games just for fun. If your workouts are feeling stale (to you and your members), maybe it’s time to ring the bell for recess.

This class leads your indoor adult cardio classes through play-inspired activities that take participants back to elementary school. You don’t need fancy choreography to break a sweat when you can skate, jump rope, and play hopscotch and musical chairs. You’ll even find a few whimsical surprises, including the hokey pokey and the Twister game. Use part or all of the flexible workout presented here, and encourage class members to scale their movements to their needs.

Second-Chance Recess Details

GOAL/EMPHASIS: to perform fun cardio and core options inspired by childhood games

EQUIPMENT NEEDED: jump ropes and mats
MUSIC: instructor’s choice
TIME: 60 minutes (Most activities are 5 minutes long).

Warm-Up (5 minutes)

Choose your own favorite moves or do the following (30 seconds each):

  • marching in place
  • tapping side to side
  • hamstring curls
  • grapevines

Lower the music and repeat moves while you explain that the class is inspired by recess play and games. Repeat moves with more vigorous arms.

Cardio Segment (~35 minutes)


  • Left/right: Place one hand on side wall, run to opposite side of room, tag wall, run back to start.
  • Front-/back-wall tag: Place one hand on front or back wall, run to opposite wall, and tag it. Run backward to start position.
  • Progression: Run faster, tag floor instead of wall.
  • grapevines
  • Regression: Speed-walk.


  • Make line across back of room.
  • Tap R ankle with L hand, then L ankle with R hand, while raising free hand; alternate 16×.
  • Do following hopscotch pattern once
    with R lead and once with L lead: Hop forward 3× on one foot; jump forward 1×, landing on both feet; hop forward 1× on one foot; and jump forward 1×, landing on both feet.
  • Pat R knee, then L knee, as you turn to face back of room.
  • Repeat above until song is over.
  • Progression: Hop on ankle taps and knee pats.
  • Regression: March instead of hopping.


Follow each minute of jumping with a minute of recovery (walking the room).

  • Skip rope (one foot at a time).
  • Turn rope backward.
  • Travel jump (from back to front of room); walk back to start position, to recover.
  • Circle jump (turn as you jump in your own little circle).
  • Progression: Jump higher and faster; decrease recovery time.
  • Regression: Jump slower or with one foot at a time; increase recovery time.


  • Divide class into four groups by asking everyone to run to one of the corners. Stay in the center and cue everyone to simulate ice skating. (Step R foot, and do L hamstring curl as arms swing across chest R. Step L foot, and do R hamstring curl as arms swing across chest L.)
  • Turn and point to each group and assign a new task (jumping jacks, push-ups or your own choice), or tell them to continue skating. They must ask, “Mother, may I?” before starting the new task. Continue for entire song.
  • Progression: Step-hop R and L during skating.
  • Regression: Do heel jacks and wall push-ups.


  • Direct class to skip or jog in circle.
  • Lower music volume to signal class to stop and sit in invisible chairs (hands in air, feet together, knees bent). Turn up volume to cue a change in direction.
  • Regression: Speed-walk.


Revisit each cardio activity for 1 minute.


Ask participants to lie supine on mats and spend 2 minutes on each core activity.

Seven-up cycling. Ask participants to lie supine on mats and spend 2 minutes on each core activity.

Row, row, row your abs. Hold a seated boat pose (sit with feet and hands off floor, shins and arms extended parallel to floor). Put both hands R and pull as if rowing a boat. Repeat L and then alternate. Do bridge pose after every set of eight (bend knees, feet on floor; raise hips in air and hold).

Swimming. Lie prone, feet down, arms extended overhead, head and chest lifted. Pat floor with R then L palm, flutter kick with straight legs and then paddle hands and feet simultaneously.

Regression: Skip the simultaneous action.

Hokey-pokey crunches. From supine: Curl up, hands behind head. Put R hand in, put R hand out, put R hand in, and shake it all about; roll hands over each other for seven counts, lie down and say, “That’s what it’s all about!” and clap twice. Repeat with L hand.

Cool-Down (5 minutes)

  • Cannonball. Hug knees into chest, rock R and L. Place hands behind knees: rock forward and back three times to gain momentum, and stand up.
  • Twister yoga stretch. Stand with feet together. Put R foot back and bend L knee. Put hands on L thigh and stretch back calf. Touch floor with L hand and put R hand up. Hold and reverse hands. Change sides.
  • Windmill. Stand with feet wide apart, clasp hands behind back, look up and hold. Soften knees and bow with R hand to L foot while raising L hand. Hold and reverse. Touch knee or thigh instead of floor for easier option.
  • Dancer balance. Stand, grab R foot with R hand, extend R leg behind and raise L hand. Hold and reverse. Progression: Bow forward to touch floor with free hand. Regression: Do standing quadriceps stretch.

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