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Strong Starts

A unique and intentional warmup prepares participants for the physical and psychological challenges of the workout.

The warmup. Is it simply a time for small talk while people trickle in, or is it an opportunity to ignite attendees’ best efforts? This may be the class section that fitness instructors plan the least, yet devoting some time to designing the warmup is really worthwhile. Why? Because starting on a strong note significantly affects the outcome of the entire workout. We want our participants to get the most from our classes, so let’s set them up for success. The following warmup ideas—perfect for a wide range of formats—offer creative options for getting started on the right foot (quickly followed by the left foot!).

Around the World

Generate a feeling of connectedness by forming a circle. There’s no need to recreate the wheel here; simply teach traditional warmup exercises, but ask students to form a circle first. A little face time can make a big difference! Here are a few suggestions:

  • Face center, march and then jog.
  • Jog in clockwise direction; do walking lunges.
  • Face center and do squats, then pushups.
  • Jog in counterclockwise direction; do walking lunges.
  • Face center and cue reverse lunges and front lunges (alternate).

Line Drills

We’re all accustomed to standing in line; why not harness this to get participants ready for a fun workout? Many exercises are done in the sagittal plane, so warming up while moving forward is excellent preparation. Ask students to form a line at the back of the studio and perform the following moves:

  • Two steps forward, right-leg lead, then squat. Repeat, left-leg lead.
  • Walking lunges, alternating lead leg.
  • Inchworms: Stand with feet hip-width apart. Hinge forward and place hands on floor. Walk hands forward to plank. Walk feet to hands and stand. Repeat.
  • Bear crawls: Start on hands and knees. Lift knees slightly off floor and move forward in lifted crawl position. Keep core engaged and neck in line with spine.
  • Crab walks: Begin seated on floor, feet hip-distance apart, arms behind back, fingers facing hips. Lift hips off floor and tighten core. “Walk” forward by moving L hand followed by R foot, then R hand followed by L foot.

Note: Cue participants to progress to the front of the room, turn around and repeat each move as they return to the starting position.

Partner Exercises

Create an atmosphere of teamwork and camaraderie by having people work in pairs. Participants can motivate and encourage each other while getting acquainted and preparing for the workout. Teach the following medicine ball exercises, 10 repetitions each:

  • Toss ball; jog to switch places.
  • Toss ball; do lateral shuffle.
  • Do alternating side lunges (partners mirror each other) and toss ball when returning to start.
  • From plank position, take turns rolling ball to each other.

Note: Have partners stand several feet apart and face each other for all exercises.

Introducing the class experience with a unique warmup generates enthusiasm from the moment participants walk in. A little extra planning and some creative focus set the tone for a great workout.

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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November-December 2020 IDEA Fitness Journal

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