Step aerobics may improve not only cardiorespiratory fitness, but also assist with weight management and mood enhancement, according to the American Council on Exercise. For each one-hour step class routine, include a warm-up and cool-down, start with basic steps to familiarize the class with the moves and increase the complexity of the steps as the class progresses. Adjust the height of the step and the cadence to modify the intensity of the workout. Note that all participants should obtain a doctor’s approval before beginning a new exercise program.
Warm the Muscles
Performing a warm-up will gradually prepare your cardiovascular system for activity, increase blood flow to your muscles, help reduce muscle soreness and help to prevent injury. Perform a series of basic warm-up moves for five to 10 minutes before performing any strenuous exercises. You may start with basic squats, step touches and hamstring curls on the floor beside the box for several minutes. Then repeat the moves on the box and add a few knee repeaters and tap steps.
Start with the Basics
Select songs with 125 to 132 beats per minute for the class routine to allow for a full range of motion, recommends the IDEA Health & Fitness Association. Use the music as inspiration to choreograph the class. Create at least three combinations for the main working portion of the one-hour class. For each combination, start with a series of basic moves, e.g., tap step eight times, perform three knee repeaters and follow-up with two step kicks. Other possible basic moves to include at the beginning of a combination are step knees, grapevines, corner-to-corner steps and straddle steps.
Jazz it Up
Layer the steps by adding intermediate choreography to the basic moves, such as eight rounds of two mambos, one step knee and one L-step. Include more complex, interesting moves to boost motivation, such as over-the-box moves, rocking horse steps, reverse turns and 180-degree steps. Add arm movements and incorporate light weights to increase intensity. Then perform all the moves back-to-back, alternating leading legs to complete the combination. March in place for 30 to 60 seconds after each combination for recovery and to transition to the next combination. Each one-hour class should include planned choreography progression, verbal cues and layering of moves to keep the class on task, according to IDEA.
Cool Down and Stretch
A cool-down session helps the body safely and gradually transition back to a normal heart rate. Stretching post-workout helps prevent injury and soreness, as well as increase muscle flexibility, according to Elaine Gonya, MSed, LAT. Perform cool-down exercises for five to 10 minutes at the end of class, selecting basic, simple exercises similar to the initial warm-up exercises. Gradually slow the pace and reduce the range of motion. Perform at least five minutes of stretching as the last portion of the class, targeting all the major muscle groups including the legs, arms, back and shoulders.