I wrote this a few years ago and was shocked by how many people contacted me about it. I think it is worth sharing again. If it helps just one person on their fitness journey than it was more than worth my time! I added a few updates for 2019 as well.
Have you ever walked into a group fitness studio and just felt out of place? You are not alone, it is January and I see a lot of new faces in group fitness classes. Sadly, I don’t always see those faces return and I have complied a list of tips I wish I could have told them before they left. I am writing this with a focus in Group Fitness classes but a lot of these points work for any workout you do.
- Getting started is hard.
Everyone was new at one point. Even the instructor had to start out just stepping foot in a class for the first time. Instead of letting the people in class intimidate you, let them inspire you. Just think, I am part of this group of people that are all here to make their minds and bodies stronger! I have been at FAC for 19 years and quite a few of our current instructors were class participants at one point. We all get how it feels to start out and want to just congratulate you on taking the first steps by walking in the doors. Comparing yourself to others is the biggest waste of your time and energy. You are you for a reason and when you let go of comparing yourself, your life, and your body to other people’s you will become a happier person.
- I am not judging you so please stop judging yourself.
I am proud that you are here and that you trust me to lead you through a workout. I don’t really care that you are off beat or a step behind me. What I care about is that you are here, giving it an honest effort and taking the steps towards a healthier you. I have found myself saying this in BodyCombat class a lot lately “What happens if you punch with the wrong arm or throw the wrong punch? Nothing. You are still moving and that is all that matters.”
- Show up on time.
Showing up late to a new exercise class can make you feel like you are swimming up stream the whole time. This is not the best first impression of the class and you probably won’t stick with it. If you are running late, just try the class another day. You want your first experience to be positive from the get go and jumping in after the class has started is not the way to go.
- Give the class three tries before you decide if you love/hate it.
Think of this at the ‘dating’ period between you and the class. Come in with an open mind a give it a fair shot. This saying is perfect to put it all in perspective “When a child is learning to walk and falls down 50 times, they never think to themselves that maybe this isn’t for me.” They just keep getting up and trying again.
- If you are new to working out in general or coming back after a long break, only take half or part of the class your first few times. Frequency of exercise is much more important that duration or intensity when you are first starting out. More frequent workouts help you stablish a regular workout schedule and also build up your stamina and conditioning. A lot of times when people start out they try and do too much too soon and it can lead to injury.
- Ask Questions.
As a Fitness Professional, I want to help. During class I will try and help motivate and correct people as we go but there is only so much I can do/say while leading the class. If you want to get tips on a move, have questions about terms, or anything, just ask! That is why I am there. I have been teaching classes since I was 16 and one major thing I have always told people is I am not there for my workout. I am there for their workout. I am always happy to help someone with technique, form, personal questions, etc.
- Don’t worry about getting heckled or called out by the instructor.
I would never put a new participant on the spot, I save that for those people I know well and know it pushes them. Now once you become a regular and we have a solid relationship, you will be fair game 😊. By this point, I will figure out what motivates you and know just how to coach you.
- Doing something new is (and should be) a challenge.
Our bodies are creatures of habit and muscles really learn to do things quite efficiently after a while. New classes and new workouts are a way to keep challenging yourself. You might feel like a fish out of water starting out but that is great for you. Don’t just stay in your comfort bubble. Try new things and who knows what you mind end up loving!
- Introduce yourself to people around you in class.
Your fitness friends can be the ones that keep you coming to class when you want to give up. I say this one from personal experience.
Getting back into teaching after having my son in 2015 was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I was not the instructor I once was that could breeze through a class with loads of energy and enthusiasm. I had to stop teaching around month 6 and I gained almost 70 pounds total during my pregnancy. Since I had always been active I assumed I would just bounce back like normal without much thought. I was 100% wrong. In places I once had muscle there was saggy mush and I would get winded just walking up the stairs. I felt like I was in a different person’s body and I wanted to quit teaching. I was embarrassed to be on stage next to people who had kids and did not let themselves go like I did during my pregnancy. My ego was hurt and I wanted to give up but my fellow instructors and class participants did not let me. What they did was help me get back in teaching consistently at first and then adding more songs and more intensity when I was ready. They let me take the warm up and other songs that were not as intense so that I could get my confidence back class by class. They invited me to teach in their classes helping me build my stamina back slowly. They were right by my side when I wanted to give up. They told me how great I looked when in my head I was upset I had to go buy larger workout clothes. My class regulars would send me messages about how happy they were to have me back. They kept me going. Slowly but surely I started to feel like myself again. I am so very thankful for those fitness friends (instructors and class participants) that kept me going when I wanted to give up.
2019 UPDATE: I am now in probably the best shape of my life. I mean the best CONDITION my mind and body have ever been in. I really believe this came from a shift in my thinking. I can tell you that I don’t really focus on how my body looks. I am so proud of what it can do, that I put my focus in the actions. I would take a higher s
- Group Fitness classes work. Studies show you will stick with your exercise routine longer when you participant in group classes. You will get the results you want when you put in the effort.
I hope this list of tips will help you start your fitness journey or just branch out on a new path and try something different. You never know what you might end up loving! I have a team of AMAZING instructors at FAC that lead, motivate, and care about our members on a daily basis.
As always, feel free to contact me with any questions. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org