I first started teaching group fitness back 1996. Since that time I’ve taught pretty much every kind of group fitness class there is, including step, spin, yoga, pilates, kickboxing, sculpting, toning, abs and more. Yes I’ve pretty much seen all the trends come, and go. Plus I’ve seen come back around… rebounders and slides anyone?
6 tips for your first group fitness class
January is the busiest time of year for gyms and if you are starting back at the gym this January you might be thinking about trying a group fitness class. So I thought I’d share 6 tips for those of you venturing to a group fitness class for the first time. It’s also a great reminder for class regulars to remember that first class, and the jitters on entering the fitness studio. It can be pretty intimidating for a newbie. So if you are a regular, introduce yourself and make a new friend.
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Check the schedule
Some classes simply aren’t suitable for beginners. At this time of year most gyms put on extra classes but make sure the level is appropriate for your fitness level. This is especially important for “choreographed” classes like step or zumba. A good rule of thumb is that if the schedule doesn’t say what level the class is aimed at then its suitable for ALL levels. However if you aren’t sure, ask! Any qualified instructor should be able to offer modifications for beginners, but there are a few specific classes on gym scheduled specifically aimed at those people with higher fitness levels. So make sure you choose an appropriate class.
Things to take:
- Water! Get a reusable bottle to refill. Most gyms have water fountains so if you run out during class you can quickly pop out and refill. The trick too is remember to hydrate throughout the class. Also remember if you are working out longer than 60 minutes then use an electrolyte replacement.
- Towel – Some gyms provide them but I advise taking your own. Not a necessity, but you may find it easier than wiping sweat off with the bottom of your t-shirt. Or worse, dripping sweat all over the floor.
- Workout clothes – double check you have everything, and sneakers! Plus if you are showering at the gym then check you have all your post-workout clothes too! Double check ahead of time if you need to take toiletries and towels also, or does the gym provide them.
- Hair ties/headband. As a group fitness instructor I keep a few hair ties in my bag for class participants. Keep a few extra in your gym bag. They come in handy. Alternatively wrap a couple around your water bottle, then they are on hand.
- Enthusiasm and a smile. Make it fun, bring it to the next level!
This should go for ANY participant but is especially important for beginners. If you are new to group fitness (or any gym) arrive early. It’s good etiquette but this gives you an opportunity to explore before class. During this time you can look round at the gym, find the lockers (do you need a lock or $), use the bathroom, grab a water etc. Arriving early is also is important for the next point below:
Not talking about a big song and dance here, but say hello to the instructor and inform them of any health issues or injuries you may have. A good instructor will see new faces and ask, but if you have certain health issues it’s good to take those moments before a class and say hi. This is so that if the instructor offers a modification later in the class, she may make eye contact with you and say “this is your modification” for XYZ injuries or health issues. Plus the instructor can keep an eye on you throughout class, check you are performing the exercises correctly and advise you on other classes that you might find interesting.
Don’t stand at the back
I know, trust me I know, beginners feel ‘safe’ at the back. Really though the back isn’t the best place for beginners to go! Firstly you are new. The instructor will want to keep an eye on you so she can offer modifications, and check you aren’t overdoing it your first time. It’s also harder to see what the instructor is doing if you are languishing in the back. You paid for the instruction and if you stand at the back unable to see anything then you aren’t getting value for money! I understand the front is intimidating, but if you really can’t be at the front at least go somewhere in the middle. Chances are if the instructor is like me, you’ll end up at the front at some point.
Do the modifications!
If you are struggling there is no defeat in adapting to the lower intensity/impact modifications. If you go balls to the wall on the first class I guarantee you’ll hate it the next day and the desire to return will decrease. Make it fun, and workout but for beginners too much too soon is a common mistake. Go slow and finish the class. You can increase the movement and intensity the next class!
Take these tips to heart, and you should be set for a fun group fitness class!
Remember to share any other tips you have for class beginners in the comments 🙂
When in a group we have the accountability that we don’t have while we work out at home. These are awesome tips to make the most of a group fitness class.
Thanks! And yes definitely accountability!
These are great tips!! I do take group classes every now and then and I always make sure that I have a hair tie on me. Otherwise with all that jumping and moving my hair is getting in my way!
Annoying isn’t it? I always keep spares now because I’ve forgotten them too many times!
These are some great tips, esp introducing yourself to the instructor. I feel like when you are in a group class you should definitely interact and try to give it your all including pushing yourself.
yep! Fun way to make new friends!
Group fitness classes can be so intimidating to me. But, maybe with these tips will help make it a little easier!
Nah, they are fun! And a great way to make new friends!
Wonderful tips! Ive never done a fitness class but have thought about it often. If I ever do find the time and go this route these will be great tips to have!
Oh Jeanine they can be so much fun! Definitely try it sometime!
If you are not happy with your level of fitness, I agree with you, you should totally get in there and do it. Some people don’t know where to begin and I think they end up holding themselves back.
Yes, sometimes we are our own worst enemies
Great tips!! I’m a big fan of group fitness classes but haven’t had the budget for them in recent years. I would really love to go back!
aww that’s a shame Amanda. Maybe skip the starbucks and get back to class!
I really need to start taking fitness classes. Sometimes the whole group thing seems overwhelming to me but these tips help make it seem less so.
It can be a great experience, and a fun way to make new friends!
I’ve always wanted to do a group fitness class, but I get too insecure! I start wondering if I’ll look silly or if I would know what to do. I need to get over it!
Everyone is new at some point Brittany! Go for it! Challenge for 2017!
Great tips. I would recommend to not feel intimidated or embarrassed by feeling lost. Remember that everyone had a first day!
so true Mandy!!!
These are all some great tips for going into a group fitness class! At first I would never take a water bottle and I definitely learned from my mistake fast!
hahaha yes hydrating is key!
This article is perfect for the new year. LOL Great tips for my first fitness class. Thanks for sharing.
I love group fitness. It’s the only thing that gets me to work out. I’ll finally hit the elliptical by myself, but I need some peer pressure.
Ok indoor cardio is the worst! Theres a reason the treadmill is called the DREADmill!
These are great tips! I am always nervous joining a new class and I have to admit I always try to stay in the back as a newbie lol
hehehe I think a lot of people do!
These are great tips. I love group classes. It’s been very hard getting over not being at the back of the class. I always arrive half hour early and chat with the teacher if it’s my first time.
It is tough not hanging on the back wall but you’ll get so much more out of the class moving forward a little
I love group fitness, best way to exercise and keep motivated! I definitely should do it more!
yes they are fun!
Definitely do the modifications. You know your body best and you don’t need an injury keeping you from your next class!
Divya @ Eat. Teach. Blog.
These are really good tips! I personally prefer the back for the first couple of classes. I like to observe for a while before I jump right in!
Yep I totally get it, but newbies would learn so much more (and quicker) if they came forward a little. Especially if there is no ‘stage’ for the instructor. I totally understand though, it can be intimidating, but I promise we don’t bite 😉
Arriving early is major. Like, the most important. Well, besides the good attitude! Its funny how many things people would be surprised at are important for with group workout classes. You nailed all of them!
For sure arriving early is key. Plus us instructors DO get annoyed if you’re late because we can’t legally let you into class after 5-10 minutes as it’s not safe due to the warm up being over.