How many of your class attendees sit most of the day? Between work, commuting and Facebook scrolling, a lot of people are chronically “sedentary in the sagittal plane.” Empower participants to strengthen their cores outside of class in novel ways with an often-overlooked piece of fitness “equipment”: a stable, stationary desk (or table). These standing core moves will activate, innervate and stretch clients’ muscles beyond the sagittal plane of sitting.

Note: Teach these exercises using a mat, a wall, or steps and risers to simulate a desk.


Standing Biplanar Hip Drop and Trunk Twists


Purpose:

To activate the core muscles in the frontal and transverse planes.


Setup:

Line up body diagonally, parallel to floor, legs scissored slightly so superior leg is forward. Right elbow is flexed at 90° against stable desk or bookshelf. Open supporting palm against desk, instead of making a fist, to give additional support and decrease shoulder stress.


Movement:

  • Lower hips toward floor so entire body is in “curve” moving away from ceiling, and return.
  • Repeat 12x–15x.
  • From neutral spine, abduct left shoulder toward ceiling.
  • Rotate trunk and “thread” arm down and under body until you can see something behind you, and return.
  • Repeat 12x–15x.
  • Progression: Combine movements for each repetition.
  • Repeat on opposite side. If time permits, do 2 more sets (3 total), each side.

Desk Push-Ups With Rotation and Knee Tuck


Purpose:

To engage the body in the transverse and sagittal planes while activating the chest, shoulder and arm muscles. (The unilateral leg challenge is often too challenging from the floor.)


Setup:

Face desk and place hands wide on edges. Walk feet back to challenging plank position. Extend R leg few inches off floor, for unilateral stance.


Movement:

  • Lower chest to push-up position, turning toward L shoulder.
  • If appropriate, progress by bringing R knee toward L wrist area, and return.
  • Repeat 12x–15x.
  • Repeat on opposite side. If time permits, do 2 more sets (3 total), each side.

Anterior Line Stretch and Trunk Twist


Purpose:

To stretch the obliques and lower-body muscles, typically overcontracted from sitting.


Setup:

Stand with L side against desk edge. Place L knee and quadriceps on top, padding knee with papers or small cushion if necessary.


Movement:

  • Bend L knee and slowly reach for L ankle with L hand.
  • If you can’t reach foot or ankle, use belt, strap or rope to close the distance.
  • Slowly turn torso toward L foot, reaching for L hip with R hand.
  • Lift chin slightly to promote neutral spine, and continue breathing as you pull yourself into twisting stretch.
  • Hold for 20–30 seconds.
  • Repeat on opposite side. If time permits, do 2 more sets (3 total), each side.