Relaxation Techniques for Group Fitness Instructors

Megan Merchant

Photo by Paige Thomas, Edit by Adam Harper

Working, cooking, cleaning, traveling, socializing, crazy weather, and teaching group fitness are just some of the activities that consume us every day!  How do you unwind for a great night’s sleep?  My favorite relaxation tips include a few minutes of self-massage, indulging in calming aromas, adjusting my body temperature, clearing my mind, and playing soothing songs.  Get comfortable and enjoy!

1. Clear your head by prepping for the next day.  Spend 10-15 minutes preparing your clothes and planning an early workout, reviewing your food options for next-day meals, and prioritizing your to-do list. 

2. If you enjoy a fun late-night show, watch it while foam rolling or self-massaging with a tennis ball.  Spend a few minutes massaging your hands, forearms, feet and spine with a tennis ball between your massage area and a hard surface.  On the floor, roll out your calves, thighs, upper back, and chest with a foam roller.  Roller Angel Pose: finish your massage by lying face up with your spine parallel on top of the roller, feet flat and knees bent, upper arms in a wide V position, jaw soft, and eyes gently closed.  Take a few deep and slow breaths.  When you are ready to stand, take your time and a few breathes between each of the following: roll to one side, shift laterally to sitting upright, bring up one leg to 90 degrees in a resting lunge position, and finally stand to walk to your bedroom.

3. Gently wash your face and hands with warm water during your bed time routine of brushing teeth.  Fill a bowl and soak your feet for extra indulgence.  The concentrated circulation in these areas will take the warmth through your body in no time.

4. Even when fresh and clean, what does your sleeping space smell like?  Consider safely refreshing your room with a spritzer rather than a scented candle before lying down for the night.  Adjust your calming scents to the season: I love the smell of pine and cloves in the fall and winter but I find coconut and vanilla are soothing in the spring and summer.

5. For hot months, turn on a low fan or slightly open a window.  We place wood trim 3” shorter than the window along our window sills so they remain locked to intruders but still allow fresh air and easy emergency access.  For cold months, plug in a safe heating pad: I slowly move mine down each major muscle group from my head to my toes and I am usually asleep before reaching my calves.  There are newer heated blankets with dual controls for each side of the bed and as I am never the same temperature as my spouse; what a great idea!

6. Keep a note pad beside your bed for recording any last minute thoughts that would have otherwise kept you awake.  Also consider writing your three favorite things of that day, rephrasing negative scenarios into their positive counterparts, or drafting a thank you note to a special someone.

7. Say goodnight to the electronics such as phones and computers with the exception of calm music or relaxing sounds.  Keep the music tempo similar to the heart and breathing rate of sleep you seek, such as 40-60 beats per minute.  Listen to holiday music only if it provides you with tranquil thoughts.

Waking to a New Day

Did you know?  Stretching and reaching the body into open or power postures for at least two minutes decreases your stress hormone cortisol and increases your testosterone levels.  While lying in bed, stretch into a large X by reaching your hands, spine, and feet outward from your core and take several deep breaths.  Now slowly roll to your side and take your time sitting upright.  Once you come to standing, stretch out into an X position once again for a few deep breaths and say “GOOD MORNING, WORLD!”

After a relaxing night of deep sleep, every morning feels brighter.


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