In many cities, fitness studios offering specialized classes are becoming ubiquitous. To stand apart from each other, these boutique gyms offer ultra-unique classes—sometimes, the crazier-sounding, the better. In LA (where I live), you can balance your way through a workout on a surfboard that’s actually on sand, hang from the ceiling on “silks” during an aerial yoga class, or bounce for an hour of cardio on your own mini trampoline.
Even if your city has yet to offer such a buffet of classes, you can probably still find a nice variety to choose from. Spin, Zumba, yoga, kickboxing, even Pound are in most bigger gyms.
The trouble with all these fun classes, though, is trying them can be intimidating! No one wants to be caught struggling or look like they don’t know what they’re doing. We like to stay in our comfort zones. The best way to beat the intimidation factor? Just try it!
The best part of trying new exercise regimens is you could find something that you just love! Loving how you work out makes sticking to it much easier. But, before you decide to jump into a swimming or cycling class, read these tips. They’ll help you get the most out of any group class.
The Internet is your friend
The vast majority of gyms will have their schedules posted and up to date on their websites. Do your research. Find gyms in your area, then look for classes that fit into your schedule. Once you find some that fit into your schedule, read Yelp reviews. They will give insight to instructors, the class vibe, and the exercises themselves. Armed with information, you can make the best decision for yourself. Many gyms also offer Groupons or other similar deals online. So take advantage!
New member specials
Many studios will have a free-first-class offer. If you enjoy yourself, don’t be afraid to ask about new member packages. Most businesses provide special deals for new members and incentives for you to keep coming and to tell your friends.
Show up early and come prepared
Call ahead to ask if there’s anything specific required for your class and what type of shoes they recommended. You can also ask about parking so you don’t have to feel stressed or rushed trying to figure it out before your class. It’s always a good idea to give yourself a generous time buffer when going to a new location. Better to be early than late!
Make it a date
No matter who you are, if you commit to meet someone at a class, you are less likely to cancel last minute. Accountability is awesome! So, invite a friend, sibling, spouse, or even a parent. You won’t feel so intimidated walking into a new workout in a new space if you have someone you know and trust by your side.
Say “hi” to the person at the front desk, to the instructor, and to the person next to you in class. Chances are, other people are also intimidated to be there. Take the first step. If they’re not friendly, then oh well, at least you tried. There’s something magical that happens in a group fitness class. The statement, “we’re stronger together” becomes very evident. If just one person pushes a little harder, there’s usually a ripple effect and others follow.
Don’t be afraid to chat with the instructor before class. He or she is there to make sure you have the best workout possible. Explain if you have an injury or anything else that may be pertinent to you having a good experience. Let him or her know if you are open to form corrections or intensity pushes. It’s your class and your time!
Just try your best
Let’s be realistic: You’re not going to love every class you try. But the point is to explore new things and figure out what you do like. It’s kind of like dating, or trying new foods. If you can find something you truly enjoy, it won’t feel so much like hard work. You’ll stay consistent, which is when the most physical and mental growth happens. The best part? You might just surprise yourself and be really good at something you never thought possible.
When in Rome
If your instructor asks you to do something you think is silly, my advice is to just laugh at yourself and try it. There’s usually a method to the madness. You’re not going to have the best experience you can if you only commit 50% of your energy, attitude and effort. Give 100% so you know one way or the other if you want to come back.
Group fitness instructors are kind of like therapists or hair dressers: There are a lot of them, but you have to find the ones that work best for you. If you go to an indoor cycling class and hate the instructor’s music and general energy, ask around and try to find someone who seems like they might be a good match for your taste. Once you find “your” instructors, don’t feel creepy about following them from studio to studio. They’ll start to recognize you and will thus get to know what you need from them, what you like, and how to get the most from you.
Keep your mind and heart open to new things! Expand your horizons and meet new people. Spring is the perfect time for new beginnings.