Signing up for a group fitness class is a great way to make sure you actually get a workout in. It's scheduled, it's structured and you'll be held accountable.
To make sure you get the most out of a class, though, it's important to follow these four tips:
1. Remember you're amazing, and that there's no reason to be afraid.
It’s easy to approach a fitness class or new activity with fear and anxiety, and even easier to start beating yourself up before you get there.
“I’m not flexible enough to go to this class.”
“I’m too fat and everyone else will be skinny.”
“I’ve never done this before. I won’t be any good at it.”
Just typing that was depressing. Why set yourself up to have a difficult time?
Remember that everyone has to have a first time, and everyone has something they struggle with. The key is to remember you have a million amazing things about yourself that are waiting for you to acknowledge them. Wouldn’t you feel lighter if you told yourself something positive before you went into the fitness room?
We challenge you to find something positive about yourself and the experience you’re about to have before you enter the room, studio, track or gym. “I'm beautiful and strong. This new class may kick my ass but whenever I sweat I smile, so bring it on!”
2. Talk to your instructor and ask questions.
As instructors, it's so helpful when students talk to us before and during class. It lets is provide your with a better experience because we know if you're dealing with an injury or condition that might need modification. We can to more intelligently align the class to fit your needs.
Talking to your instructor also builds trust. You’re following the suggestions and instruction of this person and trusting they can give you a safe and challenging experience. It’s easy to want to slide into class unnoticed and avoid the attention of your instructor, but building a relationship with that person will only benefit your experience.
We also love when students ask questions during class! If you don’t understand an instruction or why you’re doing something, ask!
3. Make an effort to actually hear what the instructor is saying.
We know it can be hard to listen to every detail while you’re sweaty, working hard and just trying to keep up, but hearing what your instructor says is crucial to a good class.
Whether it's a teacher switching up a vinyasa sequence you think you know by heart in order to teach something new or a cycling instructor telling everyone to cycle on the same leg to move through the next series of intervals safely, there's always reason to the rhyme.
The instruction we receive in class can also be applied to our lives outside of class: Come back to your breath, “engage the core to protect your lower back, listen to your body. The strength, good form, breath support that instructors guide to can also enrich our lives outside the studio.
Practicing listening to your teacher in turn encourages the practice of listening to yourself.
4. Do what feels right; stop if it feels wrong.
We've all been there: in yoga when you know you should skip the vinyasa and take a moment in child's pose, or those times on the bike when you really want to stay out of the saddle for the sprint instead of sitting and pushing your speed. Even if you’re an awesome listener and know your body inside out, you can still be guilty of pushing through when you shouldn't. Give your body the rest or recovery it needs, and you'll be able to tackle the task with even greater commitment mentally and physically.
If you get that feeling like something just isn’t right for you, or if something hurts in a sharp shooting way, stop! Take ownership of your workout and your body. Push yourself when you want but know and honor when you need to take a break.
With the current workout world’s obsession with group classes can come excellent learning, but it can also bring a need to push ourselves to be like the others in class. But remember: You're unique. Your body is the only one like it and it’s the only one you’ve got. If it feels wrong stop. Breathe. Ask your instructor for an alternative.
It's OK to do what's best for you. In fact, it's exactly what you should be doing and what any fitness instructor worth his or her salt should encourage you to do.