So I put my last article to work this week and encouraged my classes to work in pairs. I generally hesitate to put students into the position of working with others because it can make them feel awkward, but in the end it is worth it. In addition to the physical benefits of working in teams, the entire dynamic of the classroom changes once people partner up and must work together. There is a playfulness that envelops the room and laughter, the sound of equipment dropping, and chatter fill the air. For a group fitness teacher, one’s ultimate goal is to facilitate a sense of community within her classroom, and partner work does this in one easy swoop.
But I digress.
There are a variety of partner exercises that you can employ immediately into your routine whether you are a fitness professional or buff. Fit ball or medicine ball partner work has a rich tradition. You can pass the ball overhead and under or you can pass the ball from the side of your waist and continue to twist. These exercises work well with either the big or small balls. With the smaller medicine balls, the breadth of partner exercises expands to throwing the ball back and forth or lying supine and placing the ball between one’s ankles, extending them overhead and having your partner throw your legs back down to the floor.
Recently there has been a lot of buzz and interest in partner yoga. Thai Yoga Therapy classes are springing up on many studio schedules. According to Sheri Silva-Cavanagh, “Thai Yoga Massage is an ancient, sacred, and unique form of yogic healing. It combines elements of massage, acupressure, twisting, stretching, and meditation to release tension, stimulate the flow of healing energies, and enhance wholeness of body, mind, and spirit for both the giver and receiver”. In traditional yoga, working in partners can assist people in gaining flexibility and rotation, learning about the body due to working with another body, and assisting each other to gain flawless form as you assist one another work together.
It’s easy to grab a resistance band (level of resistance agreed upon by both you and your partner) and have a go at a great workout. One simple move is to each grab a handle and walk back about six to eight feet away from each other and then, holding the handles with both hands, lift the band over one’s head while the other person brings the band between his legs, and then the role reverses. The exercise can then be done with the hands stacked on the handles and the feet pivot while one twists the handles around the torso one partner at a time.
Resistance Flexibility and Strength Training (RFST), founded by Olympic coach Bob Cooley, can be done alone but as one progresses, one requires a partner or more likely, a certified RFST professional to account for a body’s intricate muscular and movement pathways. In RSFT not only are muscles contracted but they are also extended to facilitate a full range of motion. Working with a partner will really help achieve maximum results. Professional athletes from tennis players to Olympiads have had success due to practicing this unique and powerful form of partner stretching.
The benefits of working with a partner are supported by health documents o’ plenty. One’s range of motion is developed, one’s form is enhanced, and one’s ego is dissolved into a sense of team. As a teacher and a practitioner of partner exercising, the best part is making momentary friendships with an individual I had previously no experience with, and in a flash, become dependent upon, going from zero to one hundred all in a matter of moments. It is a special relationship to be physical with someone; you must communicate, feel one another’s body and be willing to accept when one of you makes mistakes or is at another level than the other. There is a significant “take away” message that goes beyond the physical benefits of working with a partner and these should motivate you to ask for more partner work or do some research online on your own, or even make up some routines. Embrace partner assisted workouts with gusto!
In good health,
JumpSport Fitness Trampoline
Writer, Creative Movement and Dance Professional