Sunday, January 9, 2011

BodyAttack 101: 01 Warm-Up

"It's the first impression and will either open the door or close it." -Nicholas Sparks

Let's talk about warm-ups. I'll admit it... it's my favorite track to teach, and is almost always the first track I learn when I get a new release. I think part of the reason why is because I'm not having to focus as much on technique and breathing. I'm less fatigued which means more time to think about smiling, saying hello, and just having fun with my class. One thing I've always said is I'm extremely picky about warm-ups and cool-downs. I am a firm believer that the beginning and ending tracks need to do something very specific for the participants, and even for the instructors for that matter.

I like music that's either fun and uplifting, or makes me want to move. Top 40s are always good, and stuff that hasn't been remixed too badly. The music of most of the late 40s and early 50s releases are a bit too choppy and remixed. Choreography-wise, most of the warm-ups are fairly standard and contain the same moves as mentioned in the Overview. This, I would assume, is proven to efficiently raise the heartrate, provide a bit of a stretch for the body and get the mind interested.

One thing that should be noted is that up through Attack 56, the warm-ups and mixed impact tracks all featured a short section of stretching. I'd be interested to ask Lisa why it was taken out, as I really enjoyed it. Maybe the theory is that people are stretching on their own, or the stretch in the beginning wasn't helpful enough (it was rather short). Some studies I've read indicate that stretching before isn't really necessary, but I've found this to be highly inaccurate for me personally.

Here are my top 10 favorite warm-ups (Attack 46 forward):
  1. 46 - If I Could Turn Back Time - It's also my most played ITunes track at 213 plays. I would arguably do this warm-up every single class if I could. I love everything about it. The intro is perfect, starting off on a very bouncy/happy, yet active, beat. There's enough time to hit play, turn the volume up and get back in front of the class (from an instructor's point of view). It has a really good mix of commonly seen warm-up moves (including my favorite... the squat-tap), and the combos aren't too complicated. The outro of the song is also perfect... the music lifts right at the end, which the choreography matches right on. My ONLY complaint about this warm-up? It's also the shortest at 4:04. If they would've added on another verse or another chorus and bump up the time about 30 seconds, it would be perfect. Still, I always know it's going to be a good class when we start off with this warm-up!
  2. 66 - Just Dance - The remix used is just sexy and the artist used to cover the song sounds pretty similar to Lady GaGa. This warm-up is dark, which is a contrast to most of them, and ordinarily might dissuade me from teaching it. In this case, the beat is just so good that it makes you want to move regardless. Lisa amazes me with her innovation sometimes. Here, she shows two different moves at different times, then puts them together for a combo. In addition, there are 3 sets of repeater taps/knees that build up the intensity. Just a sexy song that makes you want to move.
  3. 58 - High Enough To Dream - This is one of the longer warm-ups, but just by looking at the title, you should be able to tell it's a fitting song. It definitely has an electro sound to it and a funky background vocal... I've always wondered what they were saying! Heavy focus on the grapevine. This track also raises a question I've had for a while... it has 3 rounds, with the first 2 being identical, and the last being completely different. Of course, this adds variety and works something different, but is there a specific reason why they decide to change it up completely during round 3? Attack 71 track 9 does the same thing, which I've been rehearsing for launch, which is what brought it to mind. Regardless, it's a great warm-up and you truly will be High Enough To Dream!
  4. 57 - All Over The World - I find myself jamming to this song in my car all the time. The lyrics are, once again, fun and warm-up appropriate. You work in each corner of the room, then the outro has an entirely different move than the rest of the track. There's a bit of jumping right at the end, which makes it a bit more high impact than the rest of the warm-ups. But if you're ready for "a party all over the world", this one is for you, and is one of my favorites!
  5. 71 - One Love - Another darker sounding warm-up (similar to Just Dance, and oddly enough... one of the combos from that track is back in this one). The song is not your typical "happy-we-can-do-it", but more of a "we-can-fight-through-the-pain-and-make-it". This message is TOTALLY applicable to a lot of people in the group fitness arena, so I feel it's a bit more real, and the darker sound is a nice contrast. This song also features a fun "walk-it-up"/grapevine combination.
  6. 56 - Paul McCartney - Simplicity with a fun disco-beat. The focus in this warm-up is the tap repeater. There are 4 identical rounds with only 3 moves each, and there's a fun arm combination that changes in the later rounds. It's a fun opportunity for some fitness magic moments, and lots of room for drilling technique in the repeaters. If you ever wanted to do a 70s/disco themed class, this warm-up is ideal.
  7. 70 - Feels Like A Prayer 2010 - SUCH a fun remix (I actually like it better than the original... don't hate!) This one is a real crowd favorite, and there's lots of room for play on the lyrics. There's some fun innovation with the "walk it up" where you move to one corner of the room, then the other. The choreography progresses naturally and in a fun way, with round 3 putting the different sets of movements together into one big combo. This one gets requested a lot, and we did it for 2 extra weeks after launch, so it will be around for a while!
  8. 65 - Everywhere - Michelle Branch always was one of my favorite artists. I will admit to two things though... 1. This warm-up grew on me over a long period of time and 2. I liked it much better once I started teaching. The beat is a lot of fun, but doesn't start with a bang. The grapevine is back, and lots of people know the song and sing along. 65 is often among people's favorite releases, so it makes sense that this warm-up is popular.
  9. 69 - I Gotta Feeling - As soon as this song hit the airwaves I hoped it would become a warm-up, and I wasn't disappointed! The lyrics make for the perfect introduction to a class. The remix they use is really good, and of course I'm happy that the squat-tap makes a return after an extended absence. There's a fun repeater/step-touch combo. Once thing that I don't necessarily like is the ridiculously long intro.
  10. 61 - Faith - I actually really like this warm-up. It's a bit of a different song and has different choreography than most of the warm-ups. It's a bit tricky... with a side-step/tap combo and some armlines that haven't been used since the mid 50s (or since). But the song is fun and it's a different feel which allows for some variety. Unfortunately, I think because it's different, it's not used much. Since I started at my gym 2 years ago, it's only been taught twice in the Attack classes I've been in (that I haven't taught). I like the lyrics and it's one that I throw in for "something different". Check it out!
The warm-up is the place to smile... to grab your participants and pull them in. Make them forget their troubles and help them prepare the body and mind for the work ahead. We've all made an intentional decision to be there, in that room, together. The warm-up also sets the tone for the rest of the class. So ask yourself... what kind of class are you going for that day? Is there any theme or mood you're going for in particular? For example... I always teach Proud from 52 when The Biggest Loser premieres, and challenge my class to work a little harder. Bottom line: bring your best foot forward, and get your class moving!


  1. Have you noticed that High Enough To Dream is one of the fastest warmups? BPM is set a little higher than usually, so you have to work (step) faster. At the end of this track I'm always breathing hard! ;-)

  2. Turn back time, High Enough the Dream, All over the world and Feels Like a prayer 2010 are all great warm-up tracks!

    The rest would be: Knowing me knowing you, Gimme Fantasy, I Love My Radio, Evacuate the dancefloor, Open your heart and Bridge Over Troubled Water does it for me :)

    Great list otherwise :)