How to make the most of your first fitness class

 

Congratulations!  You are going to attend your first fitness class. As well as getting a workout in, you can meet new people, learn new moves and maybe even make friends that extend beyond the gym.  Many studies have shown that exercising in a group is not only fun, but also conducive to better exercise adherence as well as improving  exercise form.

Before you Go:

  • Before attending your first class it can be helpful to review your goals. What exactly are you hoping to get out of the class? Are you just looking to blow off steam or are you looking to get stronger or lose weight? There is no doubt about it, starting something new can be difficult. By reminding yourself what you hope to achieve from attending a fitness class it can be easier to motivate yourself to go workout.
  • If you are starting exercise after a long hiatus, have a change in your health, or have never exercised before, make sure you talk to your doctor first. They may have some suggestions as to what kind of exercise would work well for your body’s current conditions and what you should avoid. As great as it would be, most fitness instructors are not doctors and will not be able to give you medical information.
  • Make sure you are prepared for your class. Phone the studio/gym in advance and see what clothing and equipment is required for the class. You are usually able to rent more expensive items if you don’t have something and don’t want to commit right away. The studio/gym may also give you some other tips for beginners. Going into the class knowing what to expect can also make the experience more comfortable.
  • Drink lots of water and eat a good meal a few hours before you go to class. No one wants to workout when they are hangry.

While you are There:

  • Keep an open mind and don’t be discouraged if you can’t do the moves right away. Most fitness instructors I know recommend that you try a new class at least 3 times before you decide if you like it or not. This way you have a chance to get familiar enough with the moves that you can experience the class fully. Remember, even if it seems like everyone else in the class knows the moves better than you, chances are that when they first started they were like you.
  • Tell your instructor or trainer beforehand if you have any lingering injuries so that they can watch out for them. If you can, introduce yourself to the instructor or trainer before the class. It will make you feel more comfortable and they will also be able to demo or give more cues if they know that someone has never been there.
  • Don’t forget that even in your first fitness class you still maintain your own autonomy. While it is important to follow the instructions of your fitness instructor (especially as they relate to safety cues), you still have the final decision regarding what you are comfortable with. If the instructor is asking you to press 30lb overhead and you are not comfortable with that, then don’t do it. A good instructor should never force something on you and should be willing to provide you with modifications for the exercises as you need them. If this is not the case,  try checking out an alternative class.
  • If you feel sick or injure yourself during your first class, let the instructor or the front desk know. Often people are embarrassed about feeling ill in a class and remove themselves from the class without letting anyone know. Your safety is important to the instructor; make sure you do your part in helping them keep you safe.
  • Remind yourself of your goals. Just as it is difficult to go to your first fitness class, it can also be difficult to persevere throughout it. Remembering why you are attending can help you to get through it.

After your Workout:

Get some post workout food and drink some more water. Being well hydrated and fueled after a workout is just as important as before. Next, evaluate how you feel and if you met your goals. For example, “This workout was difficult, but I had a lot of fun” or “I was so uncomfortable that I didn’t feel like I could tell the instructor that I have a problem knee”. Lastly, decide if you want to go back. While one workout makes a difference, bigger changes take time.

To help you decide if you should attend the class again, refer to the flowchart below.

 

If you want to try an at home group fitness workout check out these Youtube video picks.

Above lifting photo by www.localfitness.com.au

 

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