5 Things You Should Know Before Going into a Group Fitness Class

by Jillian on January 28, 2013 · 12 comments

I’ve taken a decent amount of group fitness classes in my life, from yoga to bootcamp to TRX. Whether it’s a strength, cardio, or flexibility class, there are a few things you should think about before going in.

In starting my bootcamp class last week, I got to thinking about some important things. Being a certified personal trainer, I am somewhat able to acknowledge my own imbalances and also when I am sacrificing form because I’m tired. However, not everyone is expected to know this before entering a group fitness class. Whether you’re a veteran or brand new, these tips can help you get the best experience in a group setting.

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5 Things You Should Know Before Going into a Group Fitness Class

There Is Homework

When you leave the class, your job isn’t over. Think about what movements you did or didn’t do in the class. Did you stretch? Did you focus on cardio, strength, flexibility? Just because you take yoga three times a week doesn’t mean you don’t need to do any cardio. Conversely, doing 2 CrossFit classes a week doesn’t excuse you from working on your flexibility. Make sure you give yourself time to warm up and cool down, because a lot of times the instructor doesn’t do that. You should try to find out before going.

Communicate

Do you have any injuries? Any illnesses that the instructor should know about? There’s a room full of people so he or she will not always have their eyes on you. Group fitness classes are great, but the one benefit you lose is that one on one time that you get with a personal trainer. Make sure you let them know ahead of time so they can modify exercises for you if necessary.

Be Selfish

Don’t think about anyone else. Think about yourself and your benefit from taking the class. Pretend that nobody else is in the room. Push yourself as hard as you can, but also know when to step back. Just because the girl next to you is doing a bent over row with a 50 lb. dumbbell doesn’t mean you need to too. Who knows, maybe you can out-sprint her! Not everyone is at the same fitness level. Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses.

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Be Smart

Doing 25 weighted lunges? Maybe you should think about grabbing the lighter weight. Endurance exercises shouldn’t be done with heavy weights, but exercises with lower reps might call for a heavier weight in order for you to benefit from it. Be aware and switch the weight if it feels too heavy or too light. The last thing you want to do is be straining with a weight that’s too heavy and have bad form. This can cause injuries very easily.

Take a Break

Staying hydrated is really important, especially in higher intensity classes (or hot yoga!). If you need a drink, stop and take one. It doesn’t mean you’re weak, it means you are smart. You know when your body is asking for something. We can sweat over 1 liter per hour during exercise, so that means we need extra H2O! Refueling will help get you through the rest of the class.

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  • What are your tips to get the best experience in a group fitness setting?

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lauren January 28, 2013 at 9:04 am

Great tips! I often focus selfishly on myself during group fitness classes, but I think more so because I’m SOOO used to focusing on my participants when I teach. It’s nice to not have to worry about a room full of people certain times.

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2 Jillian January 28, 2013 at 9:19 am

I agree- sometimes its distracting when you start watching others and you stop focusing on what you’re doing!

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3 Sky @ The Blonde In Black January 28, 2013 at 10:20 am

I like to pick out someone in class who is a little above the fitness level that I am, whether that’s the instructor, a guy, or a class veteran. I push myself to keep up with them for the class, but like you said it’s important be smart and know your limits! I like the be selfish tip. It really is all about you and where you are at.

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4 Jillian January 28, 2013 at 10:30 am

I agree with you though! If you feel you can keep up, picking someone out to follow is a great way to keep yourself motivated. Good point! :)

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5 Katie January 28, 2013 at 2:36 pm

These are some great tips! I might build off this and make a post about 5 things to ask before you go to a group fitness class…such as 1. what is provided 2. how early do I need to come 3…..okay I ran out of ideas, but I hate when you get to a class way to early…and also hate showing up 5 minutes early when really everyone gets there 15 minutes early. Also, some classes provide towels, some don’t, but I always forget to bring one. I also think its important to tell the instructor that you are new, just in case they don’t automaticaly realize.

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6 Lindsay January 28, 2013 at 3:49 pm

Great tips! I always try to go at my own pace in group classes. If the instructor is going to fast, I just do the reps at my comfortable pace.

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7 Katie @ Talk Less, Say More January 28, 2013 at 7:06 pm

Great tips! I find myself intimidated by group fitness and I love the workouts I create for myself so much I hardly think to go. (Though admittedly, a change in my routine is always a good thing.) P.S. LOVE the Blend bootcamp pic. Are you going this year?

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8 Jillian January 28, 2013 at 7:11 pm

Yes! Bought my ticket! Are you??

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9 Katie @ Talk Less, Say More January 28, 2013 at 7:13 pm

YES!! So excited!

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10 alyssa - life a la wife January 29, 2013 at 7:10 am

I only work on building muscle in a group setting so I can make sure my form is correct. I don’t feel comfortable just yet doing it on my own!

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11 Jillian January 29, 2013 at 2:56 pm

That’s good! That’s what I like about group fitness – you can be motivated to do the things you wouldn’t do on your own. For me, I love to strength train but won’t force myself to do intense cardio like burpees and squat jumps, so bootcamp gets me to do that!

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