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The Six key phases for a fitness class
No matter what kind of class, there are fairly strict rules on how the class is sequenced. These rules help protect the students from injury and heart failure.
About five minutes of movement are done with a low intensity, almost always without any equipment and on the floor. This will warm and loosen the muscles ready for later, more intensive use.
Now the muscles are warm, five minutes of stretches, intended to lengthen the muscles for exertion in the next phase. Muscles stretch farther when they are warm.
The main phase of the class, this lasts 35 - 40 minutes (in an hour class). Muscles, having been stretched, are less likely to reach their limits of extension, therefore less likely to damage. Tempo and intensity of movement will gradually increase throughout this phase.
Following the exertion, five minutes of movement done with a decreasing tempo and intensity. Far better for the body than an immediate full stop. Blood is now in the muscles where it's been needed, moving the muscles with less intensity helps pump blood back in the heart.
A set of exercises that emphasises a particular set of muscles. The Abdominals (the stomach area) are a favourite (but can be lunges, squats etc.). Will last about five minutes (unless you've just spent the whole class doing them!).
About five minutes of intensive stretching to help avoid muscle tightness after the intensive exercise you have just put yourself through.