// Timing patterns for challenge and coordination

by Laraine Dunn

As the human body gets older the way in which it functions changes. Aqua and group exercise instructors, and personal trainers, should be aware of how age affects the ability to exercise, and need to develop classes and training to stimulate specific skills accordingly.

The use of different timing patterns for challenge and skill development can be applied to any class. They are a lot of fun for you to teach and for your class to learn. All participants benefit from performing movements that stimulate reaction response and coordination, but this becomes increasingly important with age.

One effect of ageing on the brain is the loss, and decrease in size, of neurons within the nervous system. Associated with this decline of neurons is a decreased capacity for sending impulses to and from the brain, diminishing the ability to process information. Voluntary motor movements slow down and reflex reaction time increases.

For this reason, movements that will stimulate specific skill development for reflex reaction need to be included in the class format. Small sequences of movements need to be designed for response reaction and coordination. In turn, these stimulate faster thinking, faster movement, and improved memory and concentration.

You can develop different class formats that are both challenging and fun by working the upper body and lower body using differing planes and timing patterns, either on their own or as a routine. Once you have designed one or two formats, the sequences or patterns of movements you can create are limitless.

Starting with something simple, such as performing a double movement with the lower part of the body, and a single movement with the upper body, can create a whole new learning situation for your class. For example, a double right heel dig/double left heel dig to the front and an alternate right/left single arm reach, looks easy but may require considerable practice. Swapping the upper/lower format to an alternate right/left single heel dig to the front and a double arm reach changes the whole dynamics of the format. Changing the lead leg, and repeating the above sequences, brings about a whole new format to be learnt and conquered!

Don’t progress your class until it becomes familiar with the new concept and the new moves. Once the concept of a double time/single time operating simultaneously has been grasped, introduce different sequences of movements.

For example, once the class is comfortable doing double heel digs and single arm reaches, a degree of difficulty can be introduced by keeping the foot pattern the same and changing the pattern of the arm movement to right/left, double/double arm reach. Further variations can be introduced when the class is comfortable with the new moves.

Laraine Dunn, MAppSc
A national and international presenter who is always in high-demand, Laraine was the recipient of Australian Fitness Network’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005. Her areas of expertise range from aquatic exercise education and healthy ageing, to lifestyle and personal and professional development. An educator, author and instructor, she has also been a mentor with the NSW DSRD Women in Business Program for six years.