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Fun, Team-Oriented Cool-Down Games

At the end of every thrilling fireworks show is a great finale. Wouldn’t it be anticlimactic to close with quiet music and a few sparse booms? Similarly, a heart-pumping, challenging class deserves its own finale. If you’ve ever spent an entire class energizing participants only to leave them slowly peeling themselves off the floor in a dark room half-asleep, read on for some fun ideas to help them walk out feeling invigorated and excited to come back.

Creative Cool-Downs

Most mind-body classes end with quiet relaxation, and after finishing a class with core work on the floor, it makes sense to remain there while stretching. Often, though, we struggle with what to do after intense circuit training or intervals. Do we plop energetic participants on the floor? Do we stand in a circle and do some quick stretches? Maybe, as time runs out, we tell people to cool down as they put equipment away, and remind them to stretch when they get home.

When designing your next circuit or interval-type class, consider adding a third element to the ending—something new and fun. A cool-down and stretch remain two key components; you simply add a finale that matches the energy of the class you just taught. Below are several 2- to 3-minute activities that will rev up participants and have them bragging to their friends about the great class they just experienced.

Rock-paper-scissors tournament. Find a partner and have a best “two out of three” rock-paper-scissors battle. The winner finds someone else to compete against, while the loser cheers on his or her previous opponent. The game continues until two people are going head-to-head while all the other participants cheer on one of the two opponents.

Switching places. Have everyone stand in a circle with one person in the middle. That person calls out, “Switch places if . . .” and then fills in the blank with something like “you’ve run a 5K” or “you’ve been to Europe.” Any participant the statement fits must leave his or her spot and quickly find a new place to stand that another player has left vacant. As this happens, the person in the middle fills one of the empty spots (if no one moves, the person stays in the middle and calls out something else). At the end there will be one participant without somewhere to stand, and this person goes to the middle. There is no winner or loser, just constant activity. The person now in the middle calls out the next statement.

Body symphony. Have everyone stand in a circle. The first person sets a beat with a sound. Go around the circle and have each person add something to the beat. Add movement for more fun.

The next time you finish your intense cardio or circuit class, consider adding one of these fun finales. Participants will come back if they have fun, and attracting repeat visitors is one of the best outcomes for an instructor.

For more cool-down games, please see “Create a Finale” in the online IDEA Library or in the October 2012 issue of IDEA Fitness Journal.


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Kristin Fischer, MS

Kristin Fischer, MS, is a personal trainer, group fitness instructor, health educator and continuing education provider for ACE and AFAA, as well as a master trainer for BOSU┬« and GlidingÔäó. She is a member of the Elevate Education Pro Team, an ACE subject matter expert and an ACE exam development committee member.

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