Hi my name is Hawa and I will be your Warm Up instructor. For twenty years in the fitness industry I have joked that I could spend a whole hour just warming up. Why? Because it feels so good! After dancing professionally my body ached all the time. Chronic pain is a valuable teacher to learn how to take better care of your body. When I was at the height of my career I had specific routines to warm up, cool down, and care for my body on days off which allowed me to move with my greatest strength when I needed to most on stage, in rehearsals, and during my dance classes. I became an expert at self-care because my career depended on it. When I retired my biggest regret was not warming up religiously, especially in my pre-professional days as a student. I was young and healthy, but sliding into ballet classes at the last minute and skipping that 15-30 minute warm up created tension patterns in my body that led to a serious back injury. By the time I graduated college I had spondylothisthesis, and a bi-lateral fracture of my L5. What does that mean? It means my 5th lumbar vertebrae broke on both sides and slipped slightly forwards on my sacrum. It was extremely painful, and after 3 months of rest and rehab with Pilates I was back on the audition scene trying to get a job dancing. Throughout my professional career I worked through the pain, but my back would go into spasm once a year, and I would have to take a couple of days off to rest and rehab. As a result, I learned what I needed to do to bring my body back to balance, stability and eventually mobility.
Warm Up is the product of a lifetime of studying movement. I started gymnastics when I was 2, began dancing when I was 8, and incorporated Pilates and Yoga to cross train as a teenager. I wish I had started the Pilates and Yoga as early as I started gymnastics and dance, because these techniques were the key to stability and flexibility for me. If there is one piece of advice I could give young dancers it would be to add Pilates and Yoga to your dance training as soon as possible, even just 1 hour a week for both.
How does this relate to Warm Up? Fast forward to my first gig after I retired from dance. I taught Pilates full time at a high end country club gym in Miami. After many years of watching people walk in and out of the gym I noticed a pattern, few people warm up. By the time I was working at my third gym in California I started asking questions. “What do you do to Warm Up?” I would ask my students. “Stretching?”, they would answer.
After watching people walk into the gym hop on a cardio machine, lift weights, or pop into a class, I realized people, unless they have been taught, don’t know what to do to warm up.
And Warm Up: the where do I start workout was born!
I decided to make a video library for people to learn how to Warm Up. Warm Up can be practiced daily since it’s gentle, and it progresses gradually to prevent injury. The videos are short and sweet ranging from 2-10 minutes. Warm Up videos will focus on specific body parts or muscle groups that work together. Practicing one Warm Up film is considered a success and you can choose multiple films for a full body workout. I will have playlists prepared for people who are just learning about exercise. And for fitness professionals the videos will be separated into 10 categories. When you choose one video from each category you will have a full body workout. The categories are meditation, supine (lying on your back), prone (lying face down), side lying, seated, all 4’s, kneeling, plank, wall, and standing. Developmentally these categories move us through all possibilities for movement. And there is a Warm Up chair series which is great for older people, pregnant women, and for a movement break at work.
Warm Up is recommended to be practiced:
-before the gym
-before house work like cleaning, construction, or gardening
-before you do cardio
-in the morning to wake you up
-at night to unwind and relax
-at the office when you need to take a break to breathe
-before any other fitness videos you may be practicing
Warm Up sets you up for success. It teaches breathing, core activation, alignment principles, and posture. Warm Up heats up your muscles and lubricates your joints reducing probability of injury. Warm Up centers, calms, and reduces stress. Warm Up instructor Hawa Robin Cahn is accessible to answer your questions, assess your posture, and recommend which Warm Up videos are best for you to practice. All exercises can be modified in several ways from changing the angle, position, base of support, adding weight, shortening the lever load, and assessing the biomechanics. Even focusing more on your long slow deep breathing can make a miraculous shift in your understanding of an exercise.
While I was working on Warm Up, especially the video editing part, I was sitting at my desk a lot. Sitting at the computer for long hours gave me low back pain and neck pain. I promised myself to stand up once an hour to Warm Up and it made such a difference. My back goes into spasm if I spend more than 6 hours in a row at my computer. Compared to the days where I stand up once an hour to breathe and move; I have no issues the next day. Making a commitment to care for yourself more deeply takes practice. I suggest setting Warm Up alarms on your phone to remind you to stand up and move throughout the day, even if it’s just for 3 minutes.
Around the same time I began developing Warm Up I ran into gentleman with similar injuries, either hamstring tears or achilles tendon tears. I asked questions, “what were you doing when you sustained your injury?”. Some men were walking out onto the tennis court, basketball court, or volleyball court without warming up. And the others were doing high intensity fitness videos at home after being sedentary for many years. What’s the connecting link? No warm up and a lack of gradual and intentional progressions that prepare you to play sports and do high intensity fitness. My heart went out to these guys because I know they just wanted to move, and I am sure they had memories of moving easily from teenage years. When we let too many years go by without exercising we have to ease into movement gradually, intentionally, and with wisdom. Warm Up will guide you through gentle Pilates, Yoga, Weight Training and Dance, so that when it’s time for you to go take a class, hit the gym, or play sports you are ready!