Sweaty Betty movement masterclass
I recently put together a small group training session for popular women’s fashion retailer Sweaty Betty. The workout was titled ‘Movement Masterclass’ and intended to demonstrate how effective exercise can be without the use of equipment and how fun it can be to exercise with a few friends.
For the workout we had a great Al fresco setting in Nottingham’s Wollaton Park. I was able to use the natural features of the park as a training aid and many of the exercises we performed were on some of the natural gradients of the park.
I demonstrated in this masterclass how you can improve all elements of fitness just using a pair of trainers and some open space. As a group we worked on the following workout elements:
For the workout introduction we played a great partner game called ‘Core War’. The objective of the game is to get your partners feet to move by pushing their hands. It’s a very simple game and a fantastic way to get your core muscles reacting to unpredictable stimulus. What I love about this game is that it immediately wakes you up and quickly spreads smiles throughout the group. This puts everyone in the right frame of mind to exercise and have fun.
Stretch, Mobility & Balance
I’m a big believer in dynamic stretching (stretching whilst moving) and the importance of keeping your body stable to allow for good stretch. Balance drills are important to perform at the front end of the workout before you get tired, the better your balance the more stable your body will be internally which has a knock on effect to how far your body can stretch. I took the group through some whole body stretch exercises that hit us from three directions, front to back, left to right and in rotation. Gaining good mobility in all three of these directions is fundamental to healthy movement.
To stimulate the groups cardio engines we did various locomotion drills. We worked as a group through a gauntlet marked out with cones and I coached various ways to race through the markers. This included sprinting, carioca’s, side steps, jumping, crawling and walking all of which were disguised as ‘animal flows’. Animal flows mimic the movements of animals to help you visualise the motion your trying to achieve. Once you get over the fact that your running around like a gorilla you discover an amazing way to workout using just your own body weight.
HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)
This style of training is designed to peak your heart rate very quickly. The aim is to work as hard as you possibly can for a very short period of time and has been proven to boost cardio fitness from as little as 3 mins training over one week. There are many protocols you can use and on this occasion we used one of my favourites ‘Tabata’. This involves 20s of maximal effort followed by 10s of complete rest through a 4min cycle. It’s intense but it’s effective!
Resistance training doesn’t have to mean weights, body weight can be a sufficient form of resistance. During this workout we used resistance from a partner to challenge whole body push and pulling actions. I had partners working through ‘warding’ patterns to challenge core stability. Warding patterns are about maintaining balance and whole body tension in an upright position whilst simultaneously overcoming an external force. An example of this might be walking along a straight line whilst a partner tries to push you of course, you aim to maintain your course and ‘ward off’ their resistance. This is a training strategy that has a lot of carry over particularly into team sports and general movement function.
If you give a group a physical task and make it into a game two wonderful things happen 1) they start smiling and laughing 2) they forget that they’re working out. There are so many simple games you can play with no equipment whatsoever but for this workout I chose Team Tag. It’s high intensity exercise but great fun at the same time. Team Tag involves 4 or more participants. A Tagger and a Target are nominated, a circle is formed with the target joining arms with the remaining group members. The Tagger who is left outside the circle then attempts to touch the target whilst the circle of people moves and spins to avoid them. It’s a game of speed and agility and needs no longer than 60s at a time for an effective workout.
Core & Stretch
To have a good strong core you need to practice exercising the muscles of your trunk in an upright, face up and face down position. These position changes stimulate all the muscles of the trunk in different orientations to gravitational pull. I always plan core exercises in each of these three positions for a well balanced core workout that won’t ruin your posture.
For a final stretch at the end of a workout I like to use seated or lying stretches of a static nature. This aids recovery and promotes relaxation. Of course stretching in the three key directions as we did at the start of the workout still applies.
This Sweaty Betty workout was great fun in a beautiful setting. It demonstrated that workouts can cost nothing but calories and be a fun social experience. Thanks to all that took part. I’m already planning and looking forwards to my 3rd Sweaty Betty workout experience.
If you and a small group of friends / colleagues are interested in organising group personal training with me, please contact me using the form below.