October 10, 2012
It’s finally here—that time of year when we embrace the ghouls, goblins, other spooky creatures and fun festivities of the night. While for some, the thought of bowls and bags of chocolate and other sweet treats may cause a bit of fright, have no fear this year! There’s plenty of fun to be had by adding these exercises to your workout on Halloween night!
Warm-up: Frankenstein Walk
Add this fun and effective move to your dynamic warm-up to help increase body temperature while functionally preparing the body for the exercises to come. Beginning in a standing position, step forward with the right foot and swing the left leg out in front of the body, drawing the right hand toward the left foot. Step down with the left foot and swing the right leg out, reaching the left hand toward the right foot. Repeat this cycle of movement as you walk across the floor. Limited space? No problem! This exercise can also be done standing in place.
Coordination: Walk the Plank
No need to fear a pirate’s wrath or a watery plunge! This variation on a commonly performed exercise adds in movement (much like out on the open seas), which will take you to the edge of the ship’s plank and back, all while challenging both your coordination and the muscles of your core and upper body. Start in a front plank position, keeping the core engaged and the shoulders and hips squared to the floor. Begin walking forward, moving the right elbow and left foot forward, followed by the left elbow and right foot—this is one “step.” Take three “steps” forward and then press yourself up onto your hands (pressing the right palm into the mat underneath the shoulder and then doing the same on the left side) as you peer over the edge of the imaginary plank. Lower back down to the elbows and forearms (leading with the right arm) and reverse this movement, moving back with the left elbow and right foot for a total of three backward “steps.” Once again press yourself up onto the palms, this time leading with the left hand.
Agility: Soaring Witch
Prepare to go airborne with a little bit of fancy footwork and a strong lower body. Starting in a standing position, get a “running” start by taking three quick high-knee steps to the left (landing left foot, right foot, left foot). On the third step, shift the weight fully onto the left foot as you draw the right leg behind the left; at the same time, rotate your imaginary broomstick to the outside of your left hip. This rotational movement challenges the muscles of the core, while the quick steps and leap strengthen the muscles of the lower body. Repeat this sequence to the opposite side, leading with the right foot.
Endurance: Creeping Spider
Get ready to crawl! Starting in a high push-up position, move your left hand forward and bend the elbow while simultaneously stepping forward with the left foot, drawing the knee to the elbow. Keep the body as low to the ground as possible and repeat on the opposite side (right hand forward, right knee to right elbow). To minimize the amount of rotation in the hips and torso, continue to keep the abdominal muscles engaged throughout the entire exercise and focus on controlling your speed of movement.
Strength: Scared Cat/Pouncing Werewolf
Begin in downward-facing dog and slowly shift forward, stacking the shoulders over the wrists as you pull the right knee into the chest, rounding the back as you challenge the muscles of the core. Hold for 1-2 seconds in “scared cat” and, as you exhale, step the right foot back and begin to shift your weight back. Moving toward downward-facing dog, bend the knees deeply, coming into an extended crouching position. Inhale in “pouncing werewolf” and, as you exhale, repeat the movement on the opposite side (drawing the left knee in). Continue alternating sides as you move through this total-body exercise.
Balance: Bound Mummy
This exercise is a simple variation on a yoga pose commonly known as eagle. Begin in a standing position and extend both arms out in front of the body, palms facing the floor. Bend your knees slightly and slowly shift your weight onto the right foot, crossing the left thigh over the right. From here, you can opt to place the toes of the left foot on the floor (just outside of the right foot) or, for a greater challenge, try touching the toes to the left ankle or perhaps even wrapping the toes around the right foot to hide behind the ankle. Once in this position, cross the arms in front of the chest and place the hands on top of opposite shoulders. Challenge your balance on this side for 5-30 seconds and then repeat on the opposite side, switching the cross of the arms and legs.
Cool-down: Perched Gargoyle
Begin standing in a plié position, with the feet just wider than hip-width apart, toes turned out slightly. Draw the fingertips back behind the ears, keeping the elbows wide, and slowly begin to draw the shoulder blades together. Hold this position for 20-30 seconds as you stretch through the chest and shoulders. Next, slowly begin to lower down into a low-squat position, placing the hands on the ground in between the feet. Focus on keeping both heels on the floor as you draw the tailbone down toward the mat, pulling the shoulders down and back to keep the spine long (similar to garland pose). For added support, place a yoga block underneath the body to lightly sit on. Hold this position for 20-30 seconds before slowly returning to standing. Repeat the entire sequence.
Looking for creative ways to get your kids active amidst the tricks and treats? Check out these fun activities to get them moving while reveling in the Halloween spirit!
Jessica Matthews, MS, E-RYTContributor
Jessica Matthews, M.S., E-RYT is assistant professor of exercise science at Miramar College. As a leading fitness expert, writer and educator Jessica is a regular contributor to numerous publications, including Shape and Oprah.com. She holds a B.S. in physical education teacher education from Coastal Carolina University and M.S. in physical education from Canisius College. She is a certified Personal Trainer, Group Fitness Instructor and Health Coach through the American Council on Exercise (ACE) as well as an Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher (E-RYT) through Yoga Alliance and trained stand-up paddleboard (SUP) yoga instructor. Prior to teaching at Miramar, Jessica worked full-time ACE, serving in a number of key roles including exercise physiologist, certification director and senior health and fitness editor. Her past work also includes serving as aquatics director at Conway Medical Wellness and Fitness Center and designing health and physical education curriculum for grades K-12. Full Bio Jessica Matthews »