Tuesday, July 02 2019

The above preview is for Aqua Warm-Ups, posted on 11/28/16

Any seasoned instructor knows that it is easy to slip into ‘same ole, same ole’ when it comes to the warm-up.  I plead guilty myself!  But keep in mind; the warm-up in a group fitness class is essentially the first impression a new student receives of you and your class.  There is good reason to consider taking a second look at your warm-up and your first impression. 

According to an article written by Amanda Johns Vaden, the Harvard Study of Communications said that it only takes seven seconds for you to make a first impression on another human being.  Now it is impossible to perform even a few jogs or kicks in seven seconds, but there are a few things that matter and are judged in those first seven seconds.  Preparedness.  Are you looking flustered?  Did you rush in late?    Appearance.  How are you dressed?  Confidence.  Are you making eye contact when you talk? Body language. Are you standing tall, demonstrating good posture? Friendliness.  Are you smiling? 

After those first seven seconds, students start to make first impressions on your skills and knowledge as you teach the warm-up.  How are you moving? Do you have a plan/outline or are you winging it?  Are you explaining the purpose of the movements?  Are you educating the purpose of a warm-up?   

According to the Aquatic Exercise Association (AEA), a warm-up usually consists of two or three components that add up to around 8-15 minutes. The first component, a thermal warm-up is designed to acclimate the students to the cooler environment of the pool.  This thermal warm-up typically comes in the form of rhythmic movement or simple water walking and jogging.

The second component of the warm-up is the pre-stretch. In aquatic classes, pre-stretching is typically done dynamic as opposed to static unless you have a really warm pool. These two components are important because they increase the temperature of the muscles, tendons and ligaments to reduce the potential for injury during the more strenuous exercises.

The third component of the warm-up is often called the cardio-respiratory phase. The primary purpose here is to gradually elevate heart rate and oxygen consumption for more strenuous activities.  This portion of the warm-up can be a preview of new choreography or the first part of your main segment cued with less intensity.  It is recommended that a warm-up be comprised of mostly shorter lever movements.    Activities should gradually elevate heart rate and breathing rate through progressive movement. 


Dual Depth Tempo Warm-up
The first example in the video demonstrates a warm-up that I often use in my dual depth classes, meaning that it can be performed in either deep or shallow water. This warm-up is taught strictly to the tempo of the music. Base moves that serve as active stretches for the lower and upper body, are taught first at water tempo – a quicker pace. The moves are then taught through a progression of slower tempos, until ultimately holding lower body movements for 16 counts of music while the upper body remains dynamic.  This could be done vice versa – with upper body holding and lower body dynamic.  The end result is a rhythmic and well-presented warm-up that blends static and dynamic pre-stretching, while delivering thermal and cardio-respiratory components.

Chilly Pool Warm-Up
Fitness Friend, Miff Hendriksen, shares her favorite warm-up for when the pool is chilly and the students are moaning and groaning.  She does this “thing” with her arms above the water.  After keeping the arms out of the water for a period of time, it is amazing how much warmer the water feels after you bring the arms back under. Best of all, it immediately quiets the moaners and groaners. You gotta try this. 

Kickboxing Warm-up
The next example in the video is a kickboxing warm-up, which can be used for any type of class.  The punches warm-up and actively stretch the upper body and the kicks warm-up and actively stretch the lower body.

Non-Verbal Warm-up
Fitness Friend, Ashley Bishop, demonstrates a warm-up with no talking.  The movements are simple and follow the music structure – verse, bridge and chorus.  If you have poor acoustics – this style of warm-up will save your throat. One of the most important skills an instructor should develop is non-verbal cueing.  And if you have talkative students, non-verbal cueing will shut them up because they have to look at you.  Watch how her students stop talking when she starts moving in the video.

Mind & Body Warm-up
The next example in the video demonstrates a warm-up where you can sneak some mind & body into the class – yoga, Pilates and Ai Chi. We often add mind & body into our final stretches but why not add some into the warm-up.  As you will see, it provides the perfect opportunity to blend static and dynamic stretching.

Resistance Training Warm-up
Fitness Friend, Jackie Lebeau, demonstrates a warm-up you can use when you plan on using equipment and doing some resistance training.  The emphasis is on warming-up and stretching the muscles and joints of the shoulder, elbow and fingers.

‘Oiling the Joints’ Warm-up The last warm-up sample is something I have been doing in my classes lately.  It is similar to a final stretch but instead of stretching all of the major muscles – you are performing movements at all of the major joints.  Often, I do this at the end of my class – but you can also do this as part of your warm-up if you combine upper and lower body movements and add travel.  Be sure to check out the recently posted Arthritis Aqua Essentials video for more ideas.

And one last thing from Amanda Johns Vaden’s article regarding the Harvard Study of Communications, not only does it only take seven seconds to make a first impression, they also found that on average, it takes meeting that same person seven more times to change that first impression that you made on them. 

This definitely supports the importance of a friendly, confident class greeting and a well-planned warm-up.  Watch Aqua Warm-ups and get busy sparking up your first impression!












Author: Mark Grevelding is the founder of Fitmotivation. He is also a training specialist and consultant with the Aquatic Exercise Association’s (AEA). Mark has been active in the fitness industry for 22 years as a group fitness instructor, personal trainer, international presenter and a continuing education provider for AEA, AFAA & ACE.