Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Step into a Group Exercise Class

Ah, Wednesday. This is my favorite workout day of the week, because I get to do not one, but TWO awesome gym classes in a row.  First, in Spinning, I get my heart rate up and my body warm (read: drenched in sweat), and thennn I hop one room over for Pilates, where I challenge my core, practice balance, and stretch my flexibility.  These two make an AMAZING combo.  Ah... so good. I walk away feeling like a new person, every time.

In honor of my great-workout-Wednesday, Today I dare you to try something new: Step into a group exercise class.

A newbie to fitness?  A pro-exerciser but want to spice up your workout routine with something new?  Taking a group exercise class is like having a personal trainer, except it’s slightly less personal (bad), other people are doing the moves all around you (pressure--good!) and it’s included in your gym membership (great!).  I've alluded to my gym class routine before, so now it's your turn to join in the fun.

It can be intimidating walking into a class for the first time, but don’t let fear hold you back.  Almost every class I’ve ever attended, the instructor begins by asking if there are any newcomers.  This isn’t to point and laugh at you, but rather so that the teacher can explain what the class is going to be like, learn if you have any injuries to be mindful of, and give you pointers for succeeding at your first try.  Everyone was the newbie at some point, so don’t be embarrassed.  After a few classes, you’ll become a regular, one of the crowd.

The best thing about it: once you’re in, you’re there.  Even if you can’t sprint when the spin instructor says “sprint” or you can’t balance with your third limb off the floor when the Pilates instructor says to do so, at the very least, you’re moving and toning for those 45-60 minutes. You’re in the room, you’re there. Your feet are pedaling, your legs are jumping, your core is tightening, your arms are punching… whatever it is, you’re doing it. 

Classes to try:
-       Cardio Kickboxing
-       Spinning
-       Total Body Conditioning or some kind of “strength”
-       Zumba
-       Boot Camp
-       Pilates
-       Cross Training
-       Core Conditioning
-       Urban Rebounding
-       CrossFit
-       Yoga

The list really goes on and on; those are just some examples... every gym has their own names and their own styles and their own classes, so check out what your gym offers, ask around, check out the descriptions offered by your gym.  If you don't belong to a gym, there are all kinds of studios that offer just one type of workout: Tae Bo, Pilates or Yoga studios, boxing clubs, Zumba studios... If there's one you're interested in trying, go in or call to ask if they offer demos or trial passes.

How to choose the right class?
Try a class that a friend recommends.  Going with a friend who’s already a regular might make it easier to take that first step inside.  She can also tell you what to expect on your first day.
Choose something that sounds fun to you.  If you’re going to keep going to a class, you’re going to want to LIKE it.  For example, if you love dancing, maybe Zumba or a cardio box class would work well for you.  If you enjoy meditation, yoga might be your kind of thing. 
A great idea from Fitsugar is to watch a fitness class before taking it, so you can see what moves are performed and what the instructor is like.

What to do on day one:
Tell the instructor about any injuries you have.  Ask what to expect or if there are special tricky moves she can walk you through you beforehand so you won’t be surprised and struggle halfway through (although expect to struggle on your first time!)

Where to stand or sit?  This has many answers that all end the same: THE FRONT!
-       If you’re self-conscious, go ahead and stand in the back for your first class or two until you become more comfortable with the moves and confident in your ability.
-       BUT, make sure you can see the instructor!  There’s nothing worse than showing up, a pure beginner, and not being able to see the moves. That’s why it is always a great decision to…
-       STAND UP FRONT!  This way, you can see the instructor clearly and mimick her movements.  Plus, it keeps you engaged. Whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned attendee, when you stand in front, you’ll want to perform at your best.  Everyone can see you!  In an effort to impress the instructor and other ‘students’ (or at least not embarrass yourself), you’ll likely step up your game, and NOT give in to that voice that says you’re too exhausted or can’t do it. 

Take the risk and step into a class.  I was afraid to try pilates and spinning once upon a time, but now I go weekly; they're two of my favorites!  (The third? Body Combat! Kind of like cardio-kickboxing.)  Have any of you also tried a class you were afraid of and ended up loving?

If you have questions about specific classes, I’d be more than happy to answer based on my own experiences or do the research on your behalf.  More posts on these different types of workouts to come!  For now, I dare you to try one class you’ve been eyeing on the schedule or peeking at through the window.  Just step through the door, find your spot, mimick others’ area setups, and get ready for something new and exciting.  If you don’t like it, you don’t have to go back.  But if you love it?  GREAT!  The hardest part is over, and you can continue attending.  Good luck; let me know how it goes!! 


  1. Love this - definitely need this challenge! I usually stick to spinning for group classes but I have a barry's bootcamp voucher waiting... thanks for the motivation :)

  2. I go through cycles with group fitness classes. I love them while I'm there, but I have a hard time getting motivated! I wish I could go more often- a lot of the classes at my gym don't really jive with my work / school schedule.

  3. Dangit my gym doesn't offer classes - thats what I get for $28 bucks a month. I like to think that Nike Training Club workouts suffice in the place of classes. If I really had it my way I would spin a few days per week!

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