Exercises with partners
November 2, 2009 8:39 AM   Subscribe

I'm teaching a physical class that involves close contact. For warm up exercises I like to have people work in pairs to get comfortable touching. I can only think of a couple...

1. Sit up paddy-cakes
2. Stacked push ups (taking turns with feet on back)
3. Piggy back squats
4. Piggy back running

I need a lot more - any suggestions?
posted by bleucube to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (12 answers total)
You could start with partner stretches like these:
posted by rmless at 8:46 AM on November 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

sorry- hamstring
posted by rmless at 8:46 AM on November 2, 2009

This would be more commonly used for creative classes, but you could do a vigorous version of "the machine"--first person goes up front and makes a physical movement, accompanied by a sound; next person adds another piece of the imaginary machine, cuing their motion and sound from the first, and so on. It'd have an ice-breaking effect too, if that's part of what you're looking for.
posted by Mngo at 8:54 AM on November 2, 2009

Three legged race/tying legs and arms together and having them navagate the room tied like that. (Um, that's tied next to each other, not facing each other.)
But for that matter, tie them back to back and have them walk like that. At the very least it will be a hilarous ice-breaker.
Some of the easier partner yoga poses.
Leading the blind exercise.
I think a lot of what is hard for people is not even close physical contact, but close eye contact. Maybe start off with people partnered, sitting facing each other, telling them to maintain eye contact and mimic each others movements simultaneously. Like they were looking in a mirror.
posted by 8dot3 at 8:54 AM on November 2, 2009

Depending on the physical fitness level of the individuals you teach, you could always do flying guard situps. Like this, except the punching bag is another person's waist while they're in a broad, stable horse stance. If people need extra help you can always have them join hands as well and have the stander help pull the situp-er up. Way more fun than regular situps and you feel like a total superhero afterward.

We also used to do sled pulls using our long cloth belts-- but you could use any sturdy strap. Have Person A loop a long piece of strapping around their waist. Have Person B, sitting on their butt, wrap each end of the belt around their hands, and put their feet up against the straps so they're sort of leaning backward against the belt. Have Person A pull them across the room. Great for the legs and back.

Medicine ball toss situps are fun too-- have everyone put their feet in the middle so that you make a big circle. Take a weighted medicine ball. Have everyone do a situp at the same time-- when you're at the top of the situp, toss the ball to someone.
posted by WidgetAlley at 8:55 AM on November 2, 2009

Widget: that medicine ball thing sounds like an oddly appealing form of torture. I like it.
posted by 8dot3 at 8:58 AM on November 2, 2009

The classic mirror game with two people standing or sitting very close and carefully imitating each others' movements might be a good exercise here.
posted by amtho at 9:09 AM on November 2, 2009

The "Spider's web challenge" might work for you: rope is strung between various points on two uprights to make a web pattern. There are numerous "holes" - some near to the ground and large and some higher up and smaller. The challenge is to get the whole team from one side of the web to the other - except that each hole can be used only once. The first person is normally able to step through an easier hole - the last one must also get through themselves. Those in between have to be "posted" through remaining holes by people team mates who support them at either end.
posted by rongorongo at 9:14 AM on November 2, 2009

Throwdowns: One person will be lying on the ground, flat on his back. The other person will be standing directly over the prostrate person, feet at about one inch from the lying person's waist on each side, facing the prostrate person's feet. The person lying down is going to want to grip the standing person's ankles, then raise their feet up to the standing person's chest, with as little knee bending as possible. The standing person is going to throw the lying person's legs down as hard as possible; their goal is to make the lying person's feet hit the ground. The lying person, in turn, is doing everything in his power to prevent his feet from touching the ground, and is also trying to kick the standing person in the chest on each upswing. Throw down 20 times, then trade positions. Repeat twice, so that each person has been thrown down 60 times.

Armadillos: Person A lies on the ground, on her back, with her feet tucked up to her butt, her knees pointing up and her arms crossed across her chest. Person B stands at Person A's feet, facing Person A. Person A then pulls her knees up to her chest (her feet have now left the ground) and curls her head up to her knees, as tightly as she can (in the manner of a frightened armadillo!). Person B grips Person A's knees, and very slowly pulls her knees towards her (Person B); Person A, remaining as tensed as possible, is trying to keep her head as close to her knees as possible, such that, as Person B continues to pull Person A's knees, she (Person A) will slowly be raised up into a sitting position. When she's been pulled all the way up, Person A lies back down, and the process is repeated another 9 times. After she's done her tenth, Person A will switch places with Person B. It's really awful, and a lot harder than it sounds, but also a lot of fun, and a good "warm-down" exercise, as there's very little cardio involved, just a lot of straining and grunting.

As-yet-unnamed Partner Exercise: Two participants will stand side by side, both facing in the same direction. While Person A drops down to do a pushup, Person B, while still facing the same direction, will leap over Person A, and drop down and do a pushup themselves. Person A will stand up and leap over Person B, and the process will repeat itself for as long as you desire. Go left for 25 yards, then turn around and go right back.
posted by saladin at 10:17 AM on November 2, 2009

My favorite from numerous workshops I've attended:

Back rubs. Everybody stands up, turns to the person on their left and gently massages their shoulders for 1 minute (or whatever), then everybody turns around and does it to the person on their other side.

If you're feeling adventurous, have the back rub include massaging the person's ears (gently, of course, avoiding earrings etc.). Nothing breaks the ice and the personal space barrier more than having a stranger touch your ears.

I know, it sounds like a horrible invasion of privacy and you'd think it would only work for touchy-feely hippie types, but I've never seen anyone (corporate CEO types included) be offended.
posted by widdershins at 10:22 AM on November 2, 2009

Thanks for the suggestions so far. I'm definitely looking for something physical - this will be the warm up for a full contact martial arts class. Definitely some favorites here - will mark them at the end of the day.

Keep them coming!
posted by bleucube at 11:10 AM on November 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

A couple of things from martial arts classes I've been to in the past:

(i) Partners face each other. On 'Go!', each has to try and touch the other's left shoulder with their right hand, or vice versa, while not getting tapped herself. Or both shoulders, both hands. Gets them warmed up (faster than you'd think), also gets them thinking about how to strike without being struck (so to speak) while being fun and non-threatening.

Once they've done this for a couple of minutes, change from shoulders to knees (though still tapping with hands). They'll suddenly discover that they have to bend their legs. Gets them much more warmed up than they'd have thought possible. Slightly greater risk that they'll bump heads.

If you really want to get them going--ankles. But the risk of e.g. accidentally headbutting your partner in the knee as you try to tap her ankle and she tries to avoid it while doing the same to you is a bit more serious.

This is a fun game (anyone who treats it like a fight is in BIG trouble) and a great warm-up. You can shout 'Change partners!' as often as you like too.


(ii) Various kinds of race, up and down the dojo, or whatever space you have, in teams of two. Leapfrogs. Wheelbarrows (one person 'walks' on their hands, in front, while the other holds their legs up by the ankles and walks behind them). 'Through the legs'--opposite of leapfrog. One person stands with their feet apart; the other dives through, stands up one pace further on with feet apart; first person dives through... There are plenty of variations on these, some of them v hard to explain in writing but easy to demonstrate.

Once they know a bit about rolling, falling etc you can incorporate these.


(iii) A bit more advanced. They stand facing each other, quite close together, each with one foot forward and one foot back. They're allowed to move their arms but not (within reason) their feet. Each has to try and take the other off balance in any direction.

Watch 'em closely. Bigger, stronger people, in particular, will at first use strength to shove the other person back off their balance, or to one side, or pull them forward. Usually these people are boys. No: it's only if they actually take the balance (including up onto the tips of the toes) by skill that they're doing it right. If they use strength, they are asking for a more skilled (and preferably smaller) person to teach them a lesson.

Smaller, gentler people will not realize that they have an important advantage (lower centre of gravity). Usually these people are girls.

I say 'in any direction'--this game will help teach them what the most useful directions are, and also teach them not to lean off their own balance while trying to take someone else's. It's not as physical as (i), but it's still warming--and it's excellent for getting them to think about where the _other_ person's balance is.


After doing some of these as warm-ups you can also get them to do some leg-stretches in pairs before getting on with the class--partner-work that is not 'action', but is good for you.

After a class, shiatsu.

If I remember any more I'll post them...
posted by lapsangsouchong at 8:19 PM on November 2, 2009

« Older I Just Want to Know I'm Not Alone in Hating These...   |   I don't know if you know this, but I am kind of a... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.