So, you’re bored with the same old treadmill or elliptical workout, plugging away on a mouse wheel to nowhere?
You’ve walked past those group fitness classes in action at your gym.
Wow, that seems more fun. But I could never do that because (insert excuse here).
Group exercise classes are less intimidating than you think.
Here are some essential tips you should know before you jump in to make sure you’re warmly welcomed and not crowded out.
PS – These tips aren’t just limited to newbies, regulars could use a refresher on group fitness etiquette as well.
Arrive early to class and get set up
Don’t know what equipment you need? Just ask the instructor or some fellow classmates.
Depending on the class you might need a variety of mats, weights, steps, bands, etc.
Keep track of equipment and make sure it’s not in your way. Ask for help with set up if necessary.
Pro tip: Some studios require you to reserve your spot online and may have a late window after which you cannot enter the class. This is for your safety and to minimize disruption to the rest of the class.
At a gym, some classes may require a sign-up or ticket from the front desk to save a spot.
Find out the policies in advance.
I’m not talking about brands.
I’m talking about the proper attire to make sure you’re comfortable and decrease your risk of injury.
As an example, it’s not a great idea to wear flared pants to a spin class or running sneakers to Zumba.
You don’t want your pants caught in a bike or a knee injury because you couldn’t pivot your feet with those grippy running shoes.
Make sure your ensemble doesn’t set you up for a wardrobe malfunction when you start moving and bending.
Let the instructor know if you have injuries or need modification ideas
A group fitness class is just that – a group. Instructors can’t spend all their time watching you personally.
If you have concerns or need modifications, speak up!
If you don’t ask, you don’t get. You need to be prepared with modifications that work for you to safely participate in the class.
Not sure? Check out this article on modifications!
Be mindful of personal space
This one’s a biggie.
Don’t set up right on top of someone or invade someone else’s space while moving around. People don’t take too kindly to this, and you’ll likely get the side-eye at the very least.
To avoid making enemies, if you’re not sure, ask, “am I ok to set up here?’ Most people would much rather have you ask than have to oust you from their space.
Regular class groupies can be pretty territorial, so you’ve been warned.
Respect personal space.
Try not to block someone’s view of the mirror
Most people don’t think about it. But mirrors can be important for form.
Don’t be the person who shows up late and plops their stuff down haphazardly in a spot that isn’t really a spot.
Be respectful of the instructor and fellow classmates
These are things we learn in kindergarten, but it’s incredible how many people need a reminder.
Painfully obvious things like talking on the phone, texting, carrying on a conversation, or in general doing anything that might ruin someone else’s experience is a hard no. You’ll get some dirty looks at best.
This is especially important in yoga classes where a quiet space is necessary. I’ve been a participant in classes where people will loudly huff and puff or make comments purely for attention. This is incredibly rude to your fellow classmates.
Wait your turn
There can be very little time between classes in a multi-function group fitness room.
Wait for the previous class to end, don’t bum-rush and start setting up before they’re done.
Chillax, you’re going to get in. You can be on the prowl for your favorite spot without trampling someone like a Black Friday sale. Not an exaggeration.
And no, it’s not cool to jump into the last 10 min of class, just so you can be on the floor for the next one ahead of everyone else.
Same goes for those in the previous class. If you know time is tight and the door resembles Grand Central Station at rush hour, pick up your stuff and move along.
Take the socializing outside and move out of the way for others to set up.
If you need to leave early, clean up and sneak out
Being on time is great, but life happens.
The classy way to deal with this is to let the instructor know ahead of time or do a wave. Some equipment, such as spin bikes, requires you to wipe down after use.
Don’t leave a sweaty bike for someone else when you skip out early.
The same goes for showing up late. Quietly gather your stuff and don’t be disruptive.
If you haven’t warmed up, go easy for a few minutes.
Modifications are totally ok (and encouraged)
But don’t start making up your own routines in the middle of class.
Modify appropriately for you within the general outline of the class to show respect for the instructor and your fellow group fitness classmates.
If you don’t have the endurance to make it through a full class, keep trying until you can. And utilize modifications!
Remember, no one is a pro the first time.
If you enjoy something, keep coming back and improving. Once you know the ropes, you’ll be able to try any fitness class with confidence.
Group fitness classes are a fun way to get your sweat sesh in and decompress from the stress everywhere else.
Make sure to stay away from these group fitness faux pas, and casually pass this on to repeat offenders!
Featured image credit: Copyright Pixelrockstar