If you’ve recently joined a gym, or are just looking to try a new, different form of exercise, you might consider trying a group exercise class. Classes are a great way to workout as you get both the guidance of a qualified expert, and the energy and fun of a social group environment. They allow you to learn new moves and exercises you may have never tried before, perfect your technique and expand your range of workouts.
Exercising alongside other people is also fun and exciting as you meet people you might never have mixed with before, expanding your social circle and making friends. Classes are also a great way to keep motivated in the gym, as exercising in a group situation can be very encouraging as you feed off the energy and focus of the group. Once you’ve gotten into the swing of a class, it is also an effective way of measuring your progress as doing the same routine allows you monitor how much stronger/faster/fitter you get as time goes by.
This being said, taking a group exercise class for the first time might seem a bit daunting. While some people may find themselves feeling awkward and embarrassed at the thought of exercising with others in a smaller space, there is no need for this. Here are a few tips to help you relax and prepare for your first class so you can be sure to get the best out of your experience.
Choose the right class for you
Most gyms offer a wide range of different classes and choosing one that is right for you is the first step. To begin with you need to think about what it is you want to achieve and work from there. For instance, if you’re looking for a more relaxing form of exercise that will improve your flexibility, then yoga might be a good option. If you’re looking to gain muscle and improve your strength, a weights-based class will be your best bet.
Gyms offer classes based around different types of exercises, pace and expected results. So make sure you have a good look at what’s on offer and how they’ll fit with your goals, requirements and likes. Speak to someone at the gym reception or a trainer if you have any questions about what’s on offer and what will work best for you – they will be more than happy to help, so don’t be shy!
Think about what you might need
Plan for your class by thinking about what you’ll need to wear and bring with you. Wear clothes that are comfortable and suitable for the type of exercise you’ll be doing. For example, yoga requires stretchy clothes that will allow you to move. Often classes don’t require anything out of the ordinary, but it doesn’t hurt to check.
It’s generally a good idea to take a bottle of water and small towel into a class with you if you think you’ll be sweaty – which is more than likely! If you feel prepared, you’re likely to be less nervous.
Try to arrive at least 5 minutes early so you can get your bearings and scope out the studio and any equipment you’ll be working with. Some classes such as weight-based classes require a lot of equipment which usually takes a few minutes to set-up. You don’t want to be running around at the last-minute, so give yourself time.
You might also be able to introduce yourself to a few people (including the instructor!) and get some tips if you’re there ahead of time.
Talk to the instructor
One of the most important things you can do is go up to the instructor and tell them you are new and this is your first time. This will mean you get special attention from the instructor throughout the class as they make sure you are comfortable and following all of the exercises (plus doing them with the right technique)It also means you’ll be able to discuss any injuries,health problems or questions you have with them.
Usually the instructor will then be able to quickly talk you through the class and tell you what to expect before you begin. Most instructors will ask if anyone is new before beginning, but if they do not, be sure to make yourself known!
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes
It can be easy to feel very self-conscious and even a bit embarrassed when trying something new for the first time, especially in front of other people., but try not to worry about this. Making mistakes or being uncertain about what to do is par for the course when trying a new class, and everyone in the room has been there! Don’t stress if you get a bit lost, take a deep breath and simply try to do what you can.
Watching the instructor carefully will help you to keep track of what you should be doing and most will do every exercise along with the class. Many will walk around the class checking on technique, so you will receive help, especially if the instructor knows you’re a newbie.
Don’t compare yourself to others
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to compare yourself to other people taking the class. Group exercise is set up for a group of people to benefit from professional instruction in a fun, energetic group scenario, not for participants to compete. While it can be tempting to try and keep up with the people around you, the best thing you can do is focus on your own body and what you’re feeling and able to handle.
You may see people in a class loading up their bar with weight, but don’t feel you need to copy.. Everyone has ranging abilities and is at different point in their fitness journey, so don’t be tempted to copy or compete with others – do what feels right for you. The person next to you might have been doing this class for years !.
If you’re uncertain how an exercise is best carried out, watch/ask your instructor – copying the person next to you might mean you’re learning incorrectly.
Group exercise classes are a great way of exercising while being social, so try to relax and have a good time.
If you’re looking for a gym or health club with great group exercise classes, your local David Lloyd Club offers a wide range of diverse and fun classes.