Remember the good ol' days of looking forward to recess? Why oh why have we let that escape us as adults? Our clients work all day and then as their personal trainers we ask them to workout, which equals more work in their minds. A simple change of our approach can mean the difference between our clients looking forward to seeing us on a regular basis and dreading their time with us. I have always referred to the sessions with my clients as "play time" and at the end of the session I thank them for "playing" and it really makes a difference in their attitude.

The great thing about structuring a recess session is that it requires no machines, its all about the toys: ViPR, Dynamax Balls, chin-up system, stability balls, SURGE, plyo boxes, agility cones, Hyperwear Sand Bells, agility ladders, mini trampolines, battling ropes, suspension training, steps and the great outdoors. Do not misunderstand me that it's all games and chaos. Everything that is performed has a specific reason for being selected. You still are a fitness professional and you still need to adhere to the nine principals of exercise science and guidelines for programming. Remember that the session needs to be systematic, progressive, and scalable. Making sure to include things like MCT (myofacial compression techniques), movement prep exercises, training the energy systems and selecting functional movement patterns that are specific to each client. All of this needs to occur while taking into account your clients goals and any limitations they might have. If you need guidance on MCT please reference my last article and visit the following link:

Movement prep exercises are exercises specifically selected to improve your clients neuromuscular efficiency before externally loading them or exercising them at higher intensities. Keeping in mind that the majority of your client base comes to you after sitting for most of their day. Addressing movement patterns that involve their dysfunctional myofascial lines is paramount to their success. (visit the following link for video based descriptions of Myofascial Lines from Anatomy Trains.

I recommend using the following recommended acute variables from the National Academy of Sports Medicine when designing sessions that use the above mentioned "recess" type themes.

Using the above acute variables as your guidelines you will have much to accomplish in a 55-60 minute session and your clients will have very little time for casual conversation and will be moving constantly. Is this not the goal anyway?

Exercise Examples Include: MCT: ~5 minutes, 1 min/body part or problem areas (plantar fascia, gastroc/soleus, Quads, Erector Spinae, Psoas, etc.)

Movement Prep (Dynamic Flexibility): ~5 minutes, each exercise 10 reps
Praying Mantis (Segmented Burpees with push up)
Inch Worms (Hand walk forward and backward)

Speed-Agility-Quickness: For an added bonus you have the option to incorporate cone drills, speed ladder drills and balloon volleys which will increase the cardiorespiratory intensity of this workout. I like to add in at least one of these in between each phase of the workout.

Core: Temper Tantrums (Seated rotational rope slams)
Peek A Boo's (Side plank on elbow with rotation)

Balance: Dizzy Frogs (Double leg hops with alternating 90 degree rotations)

Reactive: Monkeys in the trees (Hand over hand monkey bar walk)
Goalies (Med ball over head soccer throw for distance, at a wall or at a partner)

Resistance Training: Spider Mans (Suspension Push-ups with alternating knee to elbow touches)
Leapin Lizards (Pull-ups or Chin-ups with squat jump)

Keep in mind it will be helpful to come up with a catchy title for your newly adapted training style or specialized class. Here are some that I have had success with: Recess, Six Flags Fridays, Rush Hour, and Perform Better-Be Your Best. Remember this is their play time and you are the play time director, so have fun and be energetic!

Valorie Ness is CEO of Catalyst Fitness Midtown located in Atlanta, Georgia. She has been in the industry for over 15 years and travels nationally and internationally as an educator and presenter. Valorie is the 2013 PFP Trainer of the Year, master trainer for ACE, Red Cord and Catalyst Fitness.