Taking the Fear Out of Group Fitness

by Lexi Bulich, Group Fitness Instructor, Certified Pilates Instructor

You did it – another boring, yet relatively successful workout on the elliptical completed. You leave the gym and pass by the front desk. Wondering if there is something more fun out there, you curiously grab a group fitness class schedule and browse through the class names and times. Repeatedly, you stuff it in your gym bag, intimidated and overwhelmed by the number and types of classes listed. Does this sound familiar? If so, you are not alone. Finding the courage to attend your first group fitness class can be difficult and overwhelming. Which class should I choose? What if everyone in there are ‘regulars’ and I feel left out? Will the instructor call on me in front of the class as a ‘first-timer’? 

Here are five tried and true tips to surviving your first group fitness class:

1. Choose a class that fits your fitness personality. If you are a cardio lover, try a cardio-based class such as indoor cycling. If you love to stretch and relax yet want to become more toned, try yoga or Pilates. If you love to dance, try Zumba. For your first class, attend a style of class that you enjoy and you’ll be more likely to feel comfortable and be successful.

2. Arrive early. Be sure to get there about 10 minutes early for your first class. The instructor should be there setting up. Introduce yourself to the instructor and let them know it’s your first class. They can let you know what equipment you’ll need and what you can expect to experience in class that day. 

3. Don’t hide in the back. The worst thing you can do in your first class is hide in the far back corner of the room. If there are a lot of people in there, you will have a difficult time seeing the instructor and following along. This doesn’t mean you have to stand front and center! Find a spot in the middle so you can easily see the instructor as well as watch and learn from others. 

4. Don’t give up. Even if you feel like the class or instructor may not be your cup of tea, suck it up and stay the whole class. It may take 30 or more minutes for you to ‘get in the groove’ and if you leave early, you may miss your chance. If you really don’t like it, you don’t have to ever come back, but out of respect for the instructor and other participants, stay and get the whole experience. You just may like it.

5. Smile and have fun because it is just a workout. Feed off the group energy and excitement with those around you. Don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself, smile and take breaks when you need. Although it may seem like the class lasts an eternity, it’s only an hour and will be over before you know it. Relax and enjoy.

The next time you are at the gym, pick up a group fitness schedule. Instead of stashing it in the bottom of your bag, take a look at the class descriptions and choose a class you’d like to attend. With the above tips, you’ll feel successful, will have fun, and will likely come back for more!