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Partner Up to Warm Up

Create common ground from the start.

Have you noticed the latest trend? Instructors are incorporating partner work to add intensity, motivation and a sense of community. Prepare your class for success by teaming people up during the warmup. Below are a few full-body exercises that hit the upper body, lower body and core in a coordinated movement pattern. Before you start, get everyone in the “sidekick spirit” with these tips:

  • Cue participants to find a partner as they enter the room. Typically, students choose someone right beside them, and the process takes just
    a few seconds.
  • Encourage people of similar heights to pair up, as this makes some exercises feel less awkward. It’s not imperative, though, as these moves are also suitable for parent-child classes.
  • Help people find partners, and step in if there’s an odd number.
  • If you’ll be working to a musical beat, select a tempo of 128–132 beats per minute.
  • Have equipment on hand: The last two exercises require a medicine ball, a basketball or even a yoga block, but you can use anything that’s light enough to be passed.

The Mirror Game (not pictured)

  • Partners face each other and take turns leading basic cardio floor exercises—side steps, hamstring curls, jumping jacks, knee lifts, jogging in place, squats, etc.—for 2 minutes.
  • Cue a switch every 20 seconds and provide ideas to keep people moving.
  • Frequently remind participants of proper form.



Patty-Cake Lateral Lunges

  • Partners stand side by side and perform a rocking lateral lunge away from each other.
  • Cue a wide stance that ensures knees stay behind toes, with external hip rotation.
  • Reach opposite hand toward knee, then toward partner, twisting trunk to give partner a high-five.
  • Perform 8–16 reps; switch sides by jogging around or hopping to face back.


Plié Squat Pass (Lateral)

  • Partners stand back to back in wide plié stance with one light to moderate-weight medicine ball.
  • Partner A holds ball between waist and chest level and twists left to pass ball.
  • Partner B retrieves ball from right.
  • Perform 8–10 reps in each direction to warm up thighs and trunk rotators.
  • Use a moderate tempo (2- or 4-count twists, in each direction) to avoid dizziness.


Medicine-Ball Squat Pass (Overhead)

  • Partners stand back to back, a couple of feet apart.
  • Partner A holds a light medicine ball, squats for 2 counts, then rises to stand for 2 counts while pressing ball overhead, reaching back gently to pass ball to partner B.
  • Partner B extends arms overhead, takes ball, and then squats, lifts ball and passes it back.
  • Cue partners to communicate and use caution while passing.
  • Focus on opening shoulders as you “fire up” back muscles.
  • Have each partner perform 8–10 squats.

This warmup is the perfect precursor for a HIIT or metabolic training format that includes partner pushups, wheelbarrow squats and tag team–type exercises. You can also use this warmup in traditional, nonpartner workouts to create an immediate sense of camaraderie and teamwork and to help new class members make a quick connection—a key step in member retention and engagement. Whether you partner for just the warmup or the entire workout, fitness is always more fun with a friend!

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