Tips for Trying Your First (or a New) Group Fitness Class

January is here, and along with it comes the slew of new people to the gym. As a group fitness instructor, it’s great to have all the new faces come through the studio – hopefully many of which we’ll continue to see in the months to come!

It may seem intimidating to walk into that studio for the first time, but there is no need to be! Group fitness classes are about having fun and getting fit together – regardless of your age or athletic ability. My classes tend to be filled  with novices and old pros each and every week, regardless of the time of year.

So, how can you make the most of your first (or a new to you) group fitness class?

  • Show up early and talk to the instructor. This is key for any class, but especially one that involves any kind of equipment, such as a sculpt, boot camp, or Spinning class. Let the instructor know you’re new, and ask questions about what you will need, and how to get yourself properly set up.
  • Don’t be intimidated! There will always be those couple people who make it look easy … but they’re most likely the “regulars” who have been taking the class for years. Make friends with them, and ask for tips – I still laugh about two ladies I used to take TurboKick with five or six years ago, who told me I had to be in class every week … because they watched me instead of the instructor. (Fun fact: one of these ladies is now an instructor herself!)
  • Have fun! Nobody is judging you – they’re usually more interested in their own form and what they’re doing, not criticizing you if you miss a step (same with the people outside of the studio … I promise, they are not watching you). I joke with my classes that the only time I will ever call you out in front of the class is if you’re totally rocking it – and I hope you are!
  • Ask questions. I always end my classes by inviting participants to bring any questions they might have to me. It could be about your form, your breathing – heck, go ahead and ask me where I got my top if you want. But never be afraid to ask, because you’re only going to get better and stronger more quickly if you address your concerns early.
  • Get to know your instructor. The more time you take to talk with your instructor before and after class, you start to build a relationship with them – I have several people in my classes who have been with me for years, and whom I truly consider friends at this point. We may be able to talk, move and breathe all at once, but we’re still human!

Health clubs really do recognize the strength in numbers and great benefits that come with participating in group fitness classes – that’s why they hold so many of them (seriously – take a look at XSport Alexandria’s schedule – we have classes starting from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. throughout the week). With so many new people coming through the door this time of year, there is no better time to check out a class and try something new. You could end up finding the key to helping you keep your New Year’s resolution!

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10 thoughts on “Tips for Trying Your First (or a New) Group Fitness Class

    • Don’t be nervous – it’s a lot of fun! Just try different things and see what you like. The best advice I can give is just observe from outside for a few days and when you find something you think you might like, try it 🙂

    • You’ll be fine – nobody is perfect the first time (heck, I call out my mistakes while I’m teaching class all the time), but you’ll find that the more you do it, the better and stronger you’ll be. Good luck! I need to do more yoga myself – it feels GREAT 🙂

  1. Great tips! I was incredibly intimidated to try my first class and was always on the treadmill or stairmaster. Now I go to tons! I find that I work harder when I stand in the front of the room (even in Zumba where I am not the best dancer). It keeps me accountable and makes things more challenging. You have to remember that everyone else in the room probably is just as intimidated as you are 🙂

    • The front of the class is the best place to be! You’ll have a better view of yourself in the mirror, and of the instructor – which means the instructor has a better view of you, too (which is a good thing, for sure. I love my front row-ers). And it definitely does hold you accountable – you can’t cheat when the instructor can catch you getting lazy 😉

  2. At our gym, we call January/February “tourist season” because there are so many new members who won’t stick around. I like your list of suggestions. I think I’d only add “talk to other members” – once you make group fitness a social thing as well as a fitness thing, it just becomes playtime rather than just a “work”out.

    • “Tourist season”… that’s great (and true)! Definitely talk to other members – it really does turn into a kind of social hour once you get to know other people. Not to mention the accountability factor!

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