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Too Cool For The Cool Down?


Your entire class is gasping for air and dripping with sweat after 50 minutes of epic exercise. They’re starting to disengage and head for the door even before the dedicated cool down tracks. Skipping the last few minutes and collapsing in a heap on the floor seems appealing after all that hard work. So as an Instructor, what can you do, and how vital is the cool down process for your class participants?


Wrapping up a workout with a cool down is undeniably beneficial. Dedicating time to cooling down after exercise will enhance recovery, and help keep members on track – this is something valuable that you can regularly reinforce in classes, especially during the Autumn/Winter months.


Effectively cooling down isn’t difficult or technical. Your members should be aware that the focus is on gradually reducing activity levels until the heart rate and breathing return to normal. It’s the slow, gradual reduction in activity levels that’s key. By slowly reducing activity, the body benefits from an oxidative flush, where muscles are flushed with oxygenated blood and as a result they are well-primed for recovery.


As you will know, many LES MILLS™ workouts wrap up with a structured cool down track. This is an opportunity to connect your class to the music and movements, as you guide them through stretching each muscle group that has been worked. Some programs such as LES MILLS GRIT™ and LES MILLS SPRINT™ are designed to keep the heart rate above 85% of maximum heart rate for two-thirds of the 30 minute workout, and the only way to achieve such intensity is to omit the cool down track. This doesn’t mean cooling down isn’t going to be beneficial, so as an Instructor, encourage 5 to 10 minutes of cooling down after any exercise. Some simple ideas might be doing a slow jog, bouncing on the spot or simply walking around to get breathing slowly returning to normal. Incorporating stretching is ideal, and this can be done at the gym, at home, or both. Elongating muscles after they have been exerted helps release tension and assist recovery for anyone that exercises. 


To benefit from the increased flexibility that comes from stretching, participants should hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds and repeat it three times on each side. Be descriptive in how to stretch and where they should be feeling it in the target muscle group. It’s best to leave this prolonged stretching to the end of a workout. Often, members aren’t aware that stretching during the warm-up can be detrimental to muscle power output during exercise.


Les Mills BODYBALANCE offers benefits of enhanced recovery and improved flexibility in a restorative workout. Practiced weekly, it will improve core strength, and leave participants feeling calm and centered, long and strong. If you have ever considered becoming a BODYBALANCE Instructor, now might be the time to find your flow.