The couple that runs, stretches, poses and cycles together stays together, right? Whether it’s true or not, we believe it! With Valentine’s day right around the corner, Crunch instructor Lila Donnolo curated a killer partner workout with moves from the Acrobat’s Workout class at Crunch to help you sweat it out with your loved one. Single? That’s fine too, partner up with your best friend. Because Sunday may be for lovers, but it’s for best friends too. Be sure to #HBFIT to share the love and tag your workout partner!
Stand facing each other. Cross your arms and connect with your partner’s forearms across the center, as though you are shaking hands, but forearms instead. Walk back until your arms are straight and taut, about two feet or so apart. Line up your feet so that they are parallel and hip distance, with your second and third toes pointing towards your partner. Start to lean your buttocks and chest slightly away from your partner to create a counterbalance. Release one set of arms and send the free arm up into the air or back behind you. Keep leaning away and bend your knees into a chair position until the thighs are more or less parallel to the floor. Straighten the legs (continuing to lean slightly away from one another to maintain the counterbalance) and switch arms, then re-bend the knees. As you continue, you can drop your hips down closer to your heels. If you and your partner are very much in sync (hint: breathe together – inhale as you stand, exhale as you bend the knees), challenge yourselves to do this with eyes closed.
Lie on your back, hip to hip, legs in opposite directions. Lift your legs to stack feet on top of hips and grab hands (the hands create a diamond shape). Point your toes and squeeze your inner thighs together as though you’re holding a piece of paper between your knees. Simultaneously lift your hips and legs straight up to the ceiling (try to stack in shoulderstand – toes over knees over hips over shoulders), then swivel your hips to switch to the other side of your partner. Lower the hips all the way down to the floor, and then lever your (straight!) legs down to hover two inches above the floor. Try maxing-out on these – do as many as both of you can manage in one go with good form. Remember that a max-out involving two people maxes out whenever one of you does – it’s a partner effort!
The Base (the partner connected to the floor) lies down on the back, arms up towards ceiling, legs separated the distance of the flyer’s shoulders. Flyer (the partner who is supported in the air by the Base) wraps hands around the Base’s ankles where it is comfortable for both, usually just above the ankle bone, and presents the base with one straight leg. The Base must ground shoulders into the floor (the floor is the strongest Base imaginable, so use gravity to your advantage!). The Base reaches for the Flyer’s ankle, and can secure the flyer’s leg with both hands at first, in order to feel steady. The Flyer presses down into the supported leg and WITHOUT JUMPING scissor-lifts the other leg up into a supported plank. The Base wraps hands around both ankles and positions Flyer’s legs a comfortable distance apart for Base’s shoulders. SIMULTANEOUSLY, the Flyer folds at the hip crease (pikes) and pulls hips up to create an L-shaped handstand while the base curls up, pressing their (straight) arms directly overhead. Arms and legs must be straight the whole time! Folding happens at the hip creases. This conditioning technique is most easily done with pairs matched by height (“pick on someone your own size”). However, if one partner is longer, as in the photograph, the other can hold higher up on the shin to make the box shape possible. If they don’t hold higher on the shins, the taller partner, when flying, can feel as though they are going to flip over (because their hips will go far beyond their wrists), and when basing, their partner won’t be able to bring their hips far enough forward to stack over their shoulders. Try maxing-out on these. Optional flourish – the Flyer can raise one (agreed-upon beforehand!) leg straight up towards ceiling, toes pointed.
Scissor-Assist to Handstand
The Handstander places both hands firmly on the ground, shoulder-distance apart, the whole palm and fingerpads pressed strongly into the floor. Tiptoe forward until the shoulders stack on top of the wrists and the hips are as high as possible. Hollow out your belly – saran wrap it towards your spine. Look at a spot on the floor in between the thumbs. The Spotter supports one ankle of the handstander from underneath. Make sure, in the role of the Spotter, that you don’t get kicked in the face. Number one rule of spotting: Don’t Get Kicked In The Face. If they lift the right leg first, you support them with your left hand or shoulder. The Handstander pushes down into the lifted leg to float the other leg up. NO JUMPING. If the Handstander can get their butt up over their shoulders fairly easily, the spotter can then, keeping one leg in hand but taking tremendous care not to change the position of the Handstander, walk around to their back. Spotting Technique: Grab both ankles (or calves, if they are long) and lift straight up. Bring one fist in between lower calves and have them squeeze. Mini tightness drill: with little force, try to separate the legs so that the Handstander must squeeze in. Push down on the heels so that the Handstander must extend and push up.
The Flyer squats into tiptoe balance – feet and knees together, balancing on the balls of the feet with heels raised. The Base stands behind them by six inches or so, feet hip distance apart, knees rolling in slightly towards each other, touching the flyer’s back. Place the knees on either side of the spine – into muscle, not bone! The Flyer reaches FORWARD and up around behind the base’s waist, grabbing onto their own forearms, or the tightest grip that they can get on their own arms. Base bends knees further towards chair pose, and the Flyer lifts one straight leg and presents in to the Base. The Base grabs the Flyer’s ankle and leans back with hips and torso to create the counterbalance. The Flyer, to keep up their end, needs to (counterintuitively) drop their hips heavy towards the floor and allow the Base to balance them. When the Base leans back enough, the Flyer can (slowly and with control!) straighten the bottom leg and float it a above the floor. The Base can flourish the other arm back into the air, creating a long line between the flyer’s leg and their arm.
The Base stands, feet a bit wider than hip distance, knees slightly bent. The Flyer places hands on the floor shoulder-distance apart, just a few inches behind the Base’s heels for a kick up to handstand. Flyer squeezes the ankle of the base on the side they will kick up. Base LOOKS BACK to that side in order to catch that leg first, then the other. The Base bends the Flyer’s knees over shoulders. As the Base, try to wrap their knee creases over your traps, close to your neck. Beginning with bent knees and maintaining a straight back, the Base folds at the hips. The Flyer remains passive in a backbend. (Don’t sit up too soon, as this can make your Base stumble backwards and drop you! Allow yourself to be along for the ride.) The Base simultaneously straightens legs and folds forward, pulling flyer’s ankles down towards the floor and pushing them slightly FORWARD so that the Flyer can stand. Just before the Flyer’s feet touch the floor, the Base can give their ankles a squeeze as a signal to sit up. The Flyer sits up and slides right into a standing position. Switch roles and continue to cross the floor. Be certain to warm up your backbends before then – this can be a deep one for the flyer!
Moves by: Crunch Group Fitness Instructor, Lila Donnolo.
Models: Crunch Group Fitness Instructor, Lila Donnolo and Crunch Personal Trainer, Lorenzo Rodriguez