Leading a Phenomenal Charity Warm-up

Megan Merchant


Would you like to reach your larger local community, engage groups of hundreds to thousands of participants in dance and fitness, and promote a cause dear to your own heart?  Volunteering as the Warm Up Lead in events such as charity walks to marathons can do just that, promoting both a worthy cause as well as enhance your group fitness exposure.  To prepare you for the successful transition from thirty students to thousands, here are some crucial tips:

Selecting a Cause and Event: Consider the issues that are important to your heart.  Who do you wish to support and why?  Search Active.com and local events listings, ask friends for recommendations, and search organizational websites to find an event match.  Also keep in mind the time of day and how the event corresponds to your work schedule; for example, consider times of year when your club participation is low and you are actively seeking new members.

Audience: When you have selected the event, research the ages, genders, physical abilities, and overall demographics of the event participants.  You will then be able to select appropriate music and movements for the crowd and knowledgably contact the coordinator when you offer your services.  Once you receive approval to bring your warm up talents to their audience, ask the following questions:

1.  Attire:  Do specific colors correspond with the cause, such as Purple for March of Dimes or Pink for breast cancer awareness?  Discuss appropriate clothing attire with both your employer and event sponsors; verify any contract issues if you chose to wear logos belonging to either group.

2. Audio:  Large events can have radio station sponsors with mobile radio vans, or coordinators might simply attach their personal MP3 player to a boom box.  Ask the length of time and format type your music should be due to the sound equipment that will be present.  On the day of the event, bring at least two versions such as a cd and MP3 player with connector cords.  Decide if you will speak during the warm up and inquire about the type of microphone that will be available.  A corded hand-held microphone can diminish your use of important crowd cues and upper body demonstrations.

3. Activity-Specific Choreography:  Your warm up should support both the event activity and reflect the class techniques you are promoting at your club.  Are participants preparing for a swim, walk, bike, run, or do they need pure crowd engagement and energy-boosting enthusiasm?  If a group plans to end together and party afterward, offer your services to lead a group cool down. Show your dedication both to the activity and to the event in its entirety by being available start to finish.


Author Megan Merchant on the 4’x4’ roof of a truck at the New Mexico Live.Love.Tri Women’s Triathlon, 2012, carefully balancing personal safety, crowd visibility, and working with available surroundings.

4. Environment: Although the event begins at a predetermined time, inquire about your placement in the ceremony order.  Ideally your warm up will be the last item prior to the activity but be prepared to jump in sooner if another presenter is delayed.

  1. Visibility: Will you be on a stage platform, on the ground, or must you make do with what is available that will make you visible to the crowd?  The stage facing toward the sun is ideal as it means your participants are shaded and can clearly see you.
  2. Space: Inquire if you will be alone in your demo, if you can bring coworkers as back-up dancers, or if you will share the space with nominated fundraiser and event superstars.  Plan your choreography accordingly. 
  3. Conditions: Consider the ground your participants will be moving on.  Always cue for participants to be watchful of neighbors, potholes, puddles, and untied shoelaces, now bring on your warm up and end with a great big thank you to everyone involved.

A Successful Event: With the above tips, feel bold and educated, make social connections supporting a worthy cause, and passionately share your enthusiasm and talent for the art of Group Fitness. 

Did you rock a Warm Up?  Share your successful warm up stories and photos with us MyGroupFit.com!


« Return to Posts