By Irene Lewis-McCormick, MS
Make the Mind-Body Connection
How many of you took group fitness classes in the 1980s? Do you remember exercises that mimicked the “downward dog” and “plough” poses? During those years, many fitness instructors–specifically those who taught aerobics when it was associated with veterans Jacki Sorensen and Jane Fonda–used yogaand Pilates-based movements in their classes without knowing it. Today, the mind-body movement continues to grow in popularity. And group fitness instructors are in a prime position to borrow and adapt moves for interested participants, who may feel too intimidated to attend classes dedicated completely to mind-body disciplines. You can easily add challenging, userfriendly and practical yoga- and Pilatesbased moves to your existing classes. Whether you include them in the cooldown of a step class or in the muscleconditioning section of a high-low class, mind-body moves offer participants the core strength training and flexibility benefits they need to stimulate their workouts. be an expert to introduce a few modified moves. You do, however, need to get participants on your side if you want them to embrace the new style. Many participants attend cardio classes because they want to “feel” like they are working out. They reject yoga or Pilates because they perceive it is too easy and are surprised to discover that many moves are quite challenging. On the other hand, too much stillness or breathing (the “mind” aspect) may make people feel uncomfortable. It is difficult to challenge the mind-set of participants who are overly focused on how they look, rather than on how they function. Be aware that you need a subtle transition when introducing these moves to a “traditional” exercise class. The “more is better” attitude has no place in a mind-body setting. Tell students it’s not about how fast they can go or how many repetitions they can do; it’s about making the most of the movements themselves. These exercises require the ability to coordinate sensory and spatial awareness with postural focus, agility, strength and flexibility. Participants must be patient
Introduce yoga- and Pilates-based movements to your group fitness class.
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