There are a lot of reasons to love working out with a group, especially the motivation and support you receive from your classmates. When you work out alone, it can be easy to go through the motions with only your earbuds to motivate you. In a group fitness class, there is an added layer of positive pressure to give it your all and stick it out until the end. But, how do you make sure the workout is really working for you?
If you’re a beginner
Signing up to sweat with a bunch of strangers is not everyone’s idea of fun. Group fitness classes can be especially intimidating the first, second and even the third time you attend. Most importantly, you need to ensure you’re engaging in the activity safely and that you won’t come away with an injury.
- Arrive Early: Nothing adds unneeded stress more than scrambling into the studio to sign in two minutes before class starts. Most studios will tell beginners when to arrive, but a good rule-of-thumb is to show up about 15 minutes before class is scheduled to begin. Arriving early gives you time to get settled, figure out how the lockers work, and get centered and ready to work.
- Introduce Yourself: Find a few seconds to meet the instructor before class, and let her know you’re new. Introducing yourself will help the instructor remember you and know to look out for you during class. Listen to her throughout class as she offers modifications for the exercises, and listen to your body and adjust as needed.
- Ask for Help: Not sure how to set up that bike, which weights to grab or where to put your mat? Ask for help so you’re set from the start. Everyone is generally willing to help, from an instructor, to the studio staff or even a friendly-looking fellow fitness classmate.
If you’re a pro
You’ve clocked so many hours at this studio, they’re starting to tell you to take teacher training. You know what the teacher is going to cue before they say it, and you’re starting to get a little bored with your formerly favorite routine.
- Maximize Milestones: Even after mastering most aspects of a workout class, there is always room to improve. Focus on accomplishing bite-sized goals in your classes, whether that is holding a pose for a few seconds longer or going deeper, you can always find something new that makes you proud.
- Take the Option: Beginners listen for modifications to make exercises more doable. As a pro, listen for modifications to make it more difficult. Challenge yourself to say “yes” every time the instructor calls out a variation that will take your workout up a notch.
- Level Up: We all eventually outgrow our favorite group fitness classes, and that means it is time for the next best thing. Seek out a higher-level class at your gym, or look to other instructors and studios that promise a good burn. Sometimes, just getting out of your routine gives you the boost you need.
If you’re easily distracted
Beginner, pro or in between, group fitness can be distracting if you don’t learn to focus on yourself. From the girl next to you making every exercise more difficult than instructed, to the couple outside the studio gabbing just audibly enough for you to hear, there is a lot to try to tune out.
- Run Your Own Race: This old adage is often shared with first-time racers who are prone to burnout from getting out of the gate at a pace too fast to maintain, and it applies to group fitness as well. It doesn’t matter if the person next to you is giving it their all or rolling their eyes at the instructor’s calls, you’re here for yourself. Focus inward and remember why you came to class. Repeating mantras like “run your own race” can help you focus if you still feel your thoughts floating away from you.
- Focus on Your Breath: Meditation isn’t just for yoga classes, focusing on your breath helps to keep you in the game for any exercise. Tune out the rest of the world and even your fellow classmates as needed, and listen to yourself breathe. It’s amazing what your body can accomplish if your mind will let it.
- Say Something: There is a good chance that what was bothering you during class was bothering your classmates too. When it is warranted, discretely let the instructor know after class so they can keep an eye out for it in the future. The trick? Know the limit. There are some distractions, like cars honking outside the class, that are part of the studio atmosphere, but others, like people from the next class talking loudly outside the studio, that can be fixed.