Did you just join a gym? Good for you! Group fitness classes can be a fun and effective way to get into an exercise program, but venturing into that loud, crowded room for the first time can be pretty intimidating! As an instructor for the past ten years, I’ve seen many first timers take a class once and never come back. If you are just starting out, here are a few tips to ensure a successful experience in the group exercise studio (and keep you coming back for more):
Let me know it’s your first time: A good instructor should be available a few minutes before class (either in the hall or in the room), so please be sure to let us know it’s your first time. We may be able to give you some tips on how to get the most out of the day’s workout, tell you what equipment you’ll need, etc.
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Stand in the middle of the room.: If you are new to class, I need to see you to watch your form, so please don’t hide in the back row. On the same token, don’t stand in the front row either — you’ll want to be able to follow some seasoned exercisers, and the front row usually consists of regulars who have been taking the class for years, and can be very helpful to visually follow when I am walking around the room to help students.
See more tips on taking your first fitness class after the break!
If there is something that you can’t do yet, please don’t try to do it: This is where I see most beginners get discouraged and/or injured. Most classes should be accommodating for all levels (unless otherwise noted on the schedule), and instructors should be giving you options during the workout. If I show an exercise and say, if you are new, I want you to stay with this move, but if you are advanced, try adding x, y, z — please, don’t add x, y and z during your first class! I’ve seen too many instances where first timers try to take on more than they can handle because they want to keep up with the person next to them. Don’t! It’s not a competition, and sometimes more advanced moves take years to master. Avoid injury and burnout by progressing slowly, and please listen to my cues for help.
Listen to your body — the whole class.: I know it’s easy to get swept up into the music and the energy of the room, but you’ve got to stay tuned into your body during the workout. Only you know how you are feeling, and what you are ready to handle. If at any point you feel as though you might pass out or throw up, you are pushing yourself too hard. Take a break when you need to, breathe, and be sure to stay hydrated (it’s best to bring a water bottle with you so you don’t have to leave the room for a sip of water). Your instructor is there to guide you, but it’s your responsibility to take care of yourself during class.
Please keep these four tips in mind your first (or second, or third) time into the group exercise studio. We are all there to help you have a great workout, and want to keep you coming back for more. And if you need specific help with something, ask for it! Before or after class is the best time to get more individual attention.