Every time we turn around, there’s a new
piece of equipment to master and throw into our already overflowing fitness toy
boxes. Whether you are looking for new programming ideas sans equipment because
the well (money or mind) has run dry or whether you want to provide alternative
workouts for equipment-phobic participants, a “no equipment” class is the
solution. Dig a little deeper into your repertoire of exercises and sequencing
ideas, think outside the toy box and elevate your cuing techniques to get more
from each exercise.

No Equipment Needed Details

Format/Goal:
full-body conditioning with a “side” of cardio

Total Time: 45–60
minutes

Equipment Needed: just
a towel (and your body weight)

Music: motivating tunes that are approximately
128–130 beats per minute

Warm-Up (8–10 minutes)

Each flowing segment has a specific focus
and preparatory effect. Repeat 2–3 times on each side.

Connect
the Dots.
Goals:
prepare body through variety of spinal actions; use dynamic stretching for
lower-leg complex; establish connection between opposite ends of kinetic chain.

Begin with feet together. Inhaling, reach arms overhead;
exhaling, bring hands to thighs. Tuck chin and roll down toward thighs for
standing cat-cow stretch (anterior pelvic tilt and head lift, followed by
rounding of spine). Roll back to standing and extend right hand overhead; flex
laterally (to the left) and return to start. Repeat,
extending left hand and flexing to the right at the end.

Sink down into chair pose (squat with arms reaching up) and do
alternating heel lifts 8 times. Place heels down, sweep arms to floor and stand
up.

Mental
Muscle.
Goals: preview
sequence that will repeat in work section; stimulate neuromuscular system to
welcome unique coordinated movement patterns.

Squat and sweep arms up and down as you lift and lower. Build on
basic squat-arm combination in three ways:

1. Squat and sweep arms behind you; stand and
bring arms to shoulder height. Squat again with arms behind you, and reach arms
overhead as you stand (8 counts).

2. Squat and diagonally rotate arms toward
opposite knees; stand and bring arms back to shoulder height. Sweep arms behind
body on second squat and then overhead as you stand (8 counts).

3. Step out to the right as you rotate diagonally
toward moving leg, and stand up in wide position as arms come to shoulder
height. Squat again in wide position, arms sweeping behind you. Stand and bring
feet together as arms reach overhead. Repeat
on opposite side.

Aware
and Prepare.
Goals:
establish core connection when vertical; introduce concept of focus.

Do alternating knee lifts from narrow stance. Hip bones remain
level and square to front of room. Once participants can level pelvis and
initiate knee lift from core, reach opposite arm overhead as knee lifts. After
approximately 16 knee lifts, change to three alternating knee lifts and a hold
before repeating sequence. Finish with knee lifted and practice external
rotation by slowly moving knee out to side and back. Repeat entire sequence on other leg.

Work Section (approximately 40 minutes)

Use the following protocol for each
segment:

Rehearsal:
4 repetitions at half tempo:

 

  • Rep 1: introduce pattern.
  • Rep 2: practice.
  • Rep 3: introduce complementary arms (if
    applicable).
  • Rep 4: introduce focus.

 

Performance: 8–16 reps at tempo,
emphasizing focus. Link exercises
between segments and minimize downtime.

Segment 1

Swivel Lunge. Step back into reverse lunge, stay down low and rotate
into plié squat facing the side. Swivel back to lunge position and press up to
hip extension.
Focus:
dynamic push into hip extension.

Floor
Touch.
From hip extension, move hands toward floor by bending
standing leg. Focus: greater range
of motion (ROM) with each repetition.

Agility
Push-Up.
From toes or knees, perform standard push-up. At top
of push-up, move hands from wide to narrow one at a time (right/left) and then
back out. Focus: hand quickness
and lightness.

Segment 2

Add a towel to the “mental muscle”
segment previewed during the warm-up.

Lateral
Squat Pull.
Hold small towel in both hands, parallel to floor
and pulled tight in front of thighs. As you step out to lateral squat, rotate
towel diagonally, bringing it to shoulder height as you stand, back down to
knee level on second squat and overhead as you come into stork stance (knee
lift, one-legged balance). Focus:
towel pulled tight to engage postural muscles.

Leg
Extension and Calf Raise.
From stork position, with towel
overhead and pulled taut, extend and flex knee. With knee still lifted, perform
calf raise on opposite foot. Focus:
shoulder and pelvic girdle stabilization.

Scapular
Depression and Lat Pull-Down.
Begin with towel overhead.
Depress scapulae, then perform lat pull-down with right arm (bend at elbow and
resist with left arm). Focus:
pulling on both ends of towel equally.

Segment 3

Moving Lunge Challenge. This is a series of reverse lunges with varying levels of
difficulty. Begin with regular reverse lunge to knee lift. Add calf raise to
end of move, then include small jump at end of lunge.
Focus: power on the up
phase.

Lunge
Hold and Toe Tap.
At end of last lunge, hold the down
position, lean forward and place body weight on front leg. Begin tapping toe of
front foot without moving up and down. Focus:
minimizing body movement as toe is tapping.

Repeat
Agility Push-up.
See above.

Segment 4

Side Lunge Balance. Hold small towel in both hands, parallel to floor and
pulled tight in front of thighs. Step out into side lunge, reaching end of
towel past lunging leg. Push up into one-legged balance with lunging leg
abducted to side, and circle arms around, finishing overhead. Tap toe down
without moving towel and bring leg back up to one-legged balance.
Focus: power of push from
side lunge.

Circular
Row.
From one-legged balance position with arms overhead,
reach towel forward and down toward thighs. Bend elbows and draw towel up body
and back overhead. Focus: pulling
on towel while “drawing” a semicircle out, down and back up to where you began.

Skater
Lunge.
From one-legged balance, lower into lunge (opposite
side) and tap toe of outstretched leg in and out without moving up and down.
Keep arms extended at shoulder height and pull towel taut. Focus: maintaining lunge ROM throughout
toe tapping.

Cool-Down (7–10 minutes)

Follow appropriate guidelines provided by
nationally recognized group fitness certifications during cool-down. Allow time
for heart rate to return to normal before finishing with floor conditioning and
flexibility segment.

Shannon Fable, 2006 ACE Group Fitness
Instructor of the Year, owns Sunshine Fitness Resources, a consulting service
for fitness professionals, and is group fitness director at Lakeshore Athletic
Club outside of Boulder, Colorado. See this workout in action at www.shannonfable.com.