1. Do your research.
Most classes have descriptions on the class schedule or website. If you know someone who is a regular attendee they could give great feedback. The club, studio or fitness center may also have videos on their website. If it is a specific type of class, say Zumba, barre or a cycling class, YouTube is also a great source to give you an idea of what to expect. You never want to show up for a class in flip flops if you are going to be doing jump squats!
2. Show up early.
Showing up early, especially for a new class, is key to helping you feel comfortable. Some classes take a few minutes to set up equipment. For example, when I teach a body sculpt class, it takes a few minutes for everyone to get their steps in place, pick out appropriate sized weights and whatever equipment we are using at that class. In a spin class, you will want to have time to get a bike, perhaps shoes, and make sure the bike is set to the appropriate settings. Also, I love when a new participant comes to me before class to introduce themselves. That is a great time to let him or her know if you have any restrictions or injuries. It is also good to get to know your instructor and have a personal relationship.
3. Don’t stand in the back.
If you are new, please, please, please do not set yourself up in the back! It is so much more difficult for you to see, hear, be seen and be involved in the class! One of the jobs of an instructor is to be able to see the participants and check their form. Personally, I also like to guage the faces of the class participants! You can tell whether they are hating it, loving it, grueling through it or totally bored and spaced out. (Hopefully, the latter is rare!)
4. Choose a Combination of Weights
If this is your first time in a strength or any class where weights are involved, choose a combination of light to medium to heavy – and that means what is light, medium or heavy for YOU. You want to have a weight that will allow you to do a move with proper form, but will also be challenging. As an instructor, I want you to be able to perform a move with proper form, but be enouch challenged to feel good about yourself, but want to come back! I never want a first timer to be too sore, too overwhelmed or too discouraged to come back to class.
5. Don’t Follow the Crowd
Oftentimes you may come into a class as a newcomer and feel like the odd man out. Some people have specific classes, times or instructors they attend regularly and seem to form their own “club”. They also may be familiar with the format, and have been performing the workout for some time. While these regulars may be great to follow for form or information about the class, don’t feel like you need to follow them as to the intensity and weights they use. Remember that this is YOUR workout so you need to work at your own pace, and always modify if you need, without worrying about what any or everyone else is doing.
6. Introduce yourself to the Instructor!
I know I already said this, but it bears repeating. Do you know one of the main reasons I teach group fitness? (hint, it ain’t for the big bucks!) I do love fitness, but just as much, it’s the people!! I love, love, love connecting with the group of women and men in a class. To me, there is nothing better!
7. Come Back!
Do I even need to say this? Whatever class you took – even if you THINK you hated it – needs more than one try. Maybe you needed to get more comfortable with the moves, the form, the format of the class to really feel the benefit. It takes more than a few times to really learn and understand the Pilates method, a TurboKick class has a choreography that may need a few times to really grasp, most anything new takes more than one attempt. Maybe it was an off day for the instructor, or the music wasn’t your taste, or you might want to try a different instructor with a different style, whatever it is – come back. Give it more than one try before you give up on that class. After a few tries and you still aren’t feeling the love, then try a different class. There are so many great options out there!
If you are looking at trying a new fitness class this year, I hope these tips help. Don’t be shy, get out there and try something new. You may surprise yourself in finding something new you just love and make new friends along the way.
I’d love to hear about new classes you are trying in the new year! What you love or what’s not your favorite.
Enjoy Your Day!