After a long hiatus from the gym, it can be kind of scary to jump back and try something like a new group fitness class.
The same is true if you’re completely new to exercising.
It can be a little scary to know where to start, and it’s hard to put yourself out there and jump into a group fitness class. But trust me – once you try it, you’ll not only be hooked – you’ll be totally proud of yourself.
This post is for those of you who are in either situation – new to the gym or coming back after a long break. I hope that it helps build your confidence as you jump into the fitness world. 🙂
Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you choose to make a purchase using one of my links, I may receive a commission. That doesn’t change your price. 🙂
Before we get started, I’d love to share what sparked the idea for this post.
If you’re reading this, you’re probably trying to muster up the courage to try something new or get back into better shape. I was in the exact same situation not too long ago!
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Three years ago, I was in the middle of a terrible pregnancy. I had hyperemesis gravidarum (commonly known as morning sickness on crack), which resulted in a lot of throwing up and a lot of laying in bed. I lost a ton of muscle mass throughout my pregnancy, and then I had an unexpected c-section. Recovery was a lot harder and took a lot longer than expected – actually, sometimes I feel that I’m still recovering physically.
After my pregnancy, I had some pretty serious postpartum depression. To be honest, I didn’t really have it under control until a few months ago. (Totally not implying that it’s just a phase or easy fix – depression is serious!) This contributed to a really inconsistent effort to get fit and healthy after my pregnancy (I gained 45lbs in the last trimester! Holy cowwww!).
When my mind was finally a bit clearer and I was able to enjoy motherhood more, I knew I needed to get back in the gym. I knew that I needed to find out just what my body could and couldn’t do, so I decided to rejoin one of the group fitness classes I’d previously enjoyed.
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Wow! It told me so much about what I needed to work on, but it also helped me “nip it in the bud” and get back at it.
I’m so glad I did it, even though I was nervous – and didn’t even make it through the whole workout.
Yup, I didn’t make it through the last ten minutes of the class. I was weak – heck, I’d had my abs cut into not too many weeks earlier. But I was okay with that! I’d showed up, and that was honestly the scariest part.
Even though I was pretty inconsistent at hitting a group fitness class in the coming year, showing up that one time took away the scary part of rejoining the fitness world. It took away the unknown, taught me a lot about my body, and gave me the confidence I needed to keep going. In some ways, it helped me get to where I am today!
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If you’re in that boat right now – wanting to hit the gym or a group fitness class – but feeling scared of trying something new, this is for you!
Before we get into my tips for jumping into a new group fitness class, I want to tell you one more thing I wish I’d done before returning to the gym. I was SO weak after both of my c-sections (I’ve now had two babies) that I wish I’d focused on core strength more. That way when I wanted to go back to the gym, I could dive headfirst into a more dedicated and intense workout routine (or group classes) while feeling confident that I was ready.
I suffered back injuries after both c-sections, so I created a core-strengthening workout program to help me get back on my feet. I’m suggesting that you consider a program like this (I call mine Restore The Core) to protect you from injury after a break in exercise.
Okay. Let’s go…
How to Rock Your First Group Fitness Class
1. Show up with a smile.
Seriously, this is a big one! Not only does a smile set the tone for your attitude, it lets people know that you’re open to conversation. If you’ve got a smile plastered on your face, people can’t help but smile back. Smiles lead to conversations and conversations lead to friendships. Those are super important for accountability and fun in the fitness world!
2. Be a few minutes early.
Some classes require that you set up your own equipment prior to starting class. My favorite class doesn’t involve just showing up and moving your body like Zumba does – it requires a few sets of hand weights, a mat, an aerobic step, a barbell, and several different weights to put on it. You’ll want to make sure you’re set up before class starts so you’re not rushed and don’t interrupt class while trying to get it all together.
3. Introduce yourself to the instructor.
Depending on your gym, your instructor may not notice new faces every time one is in class. (However, I think that a GOOD group instructor will always say hi to newbies!) Introduce yourself to the instructor and let him or her know that you’re new. You’ll likely get a few pointers and find out what you need to get started. Plus, you’ll probably get a, “You did great for your first class!” compliment at the end of class. That can really boost your confidence!
4. Ask a question.
Want to make friends and break the ice quickly? Ask a classmate something! Anything! Just start a conversation. I like to say something like, “Hey, I’m new to this class. Is there anything else I’m going to need?” You know what usually happens when I do that? I have an immediate fitness buddy that has my back if I’ve got the wrong form or need a few pointers. If you’re at the right gym with a great environment, that’s how it should be!
5. Show up with the right gear.
For some group fitness classes, it’s recommended (sometimes required) that you have special gear. For example, if you’re cycling, you usually want to have special shoes. I personally like to show up with my own yoga mat (I have a beautiful yoga mat!) and I always have a Nathan water bottle with me. Find out what gear you need before showing up to ensure that you’re comfortable in class and can experience it authentically.
6. Get a sneak peak before showing up.
If you want to know a little bit about what you’ll be doing before actually hitting a specific class, check it out on YouTube! Before I tried PiYo, I checked it out on online. You can find videos of just about anything these days, so if it will help you feel better to check it out first, do it! Sometimes you can rule a class out just by knowing what it involves.
7. Position yourself for good visibility.
In the actual class, you’ll want to have a great view of the instructor. But also I recommend starting in the middle row so that if your class requires turning, you still have someone else to keep your eye on. Some classes have you rotate at every which angle – meaning you’ll lose sight of your instructor. Staying in the middle (of a class that’s set up in rows) will be a big help in case this happens.
8. Start easy.
In your first class, keeping the right form and getting a feel for the rhythm should be your primary focus. It’s okay if your weights aren’t high and your squats aren’t low – you can focus on large movements and a harder workout next time. You want to ensure that you successfully complete this class (it will boost your confidence), so for now, it’s not your job to impress others. Keep it simple!
9. Focus on the correct form.
Like I said, when you go to a new group fitness class, your main job is to focus on the correct form. Listen closely to the instructor – a good one will remind you of good form regularly. If you don’t keep the correct form, you’re setting yourself up for a painful recovery or possible injury – that’s not a good way to start your new life in fitness. And it certainly wont boost your confidence!
10. Give yourself a pat on the back!
You did something new! That’s a big deal! You put yourself out there and made it through a new group fitness class. You made your body do strange things and got all sweaty with a bunch of strangers – it doesn’t get braver than that. 😉
That’s all, folks! Good luck and happy exercising!
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