Freaked Out By Group Fitness Classes? Here’s How to Find The Best Class For You

Here’s your guide to finding your new favorite class.

By: Ilyse Rogozenski

Group fitness classes provide a wide variety of workouts. There are classes that are lower intensity and more subdued while others appear to be teetering on the brink of insanity. You can have your butt kicked or your butt toned. Fitness classes have come a long way and offer so much more than in the past. If you are new to classes, you may not know which one is for you or what to expect. And that uncertainty may deter you from trying one. But fear not—there is a class for you out there!

Do Some Homework

Most gyms offer similar style fitness classes, but with different names. For example, FitOn offers both a Booty Bootcamp and a Cardio Booty Burn Barre. You can easily guess from the names what the focus will be in class, but they are different types of workouts. Your best bet is to read the description or ask someone who takes the class. You can also ask the instructor what the class entails and what to expect. Some class names can be deceiving or have a vague description so it’s a good idea to ask if you’re not sure.

When it comes to classes like yoga, there are several styles to choose from so find out which ones are on the schedule and what they mean. Some may be more physical than others. A “power yoga” class, for example, is probably going to be a lot different than a class called “gentle yoga”.

The same goes for HIIT (high intensity interval training) classes. Everyone has their own version of it. Often, these fitness classes are given names like “Tabata”, “boot camp” or “metabolic training”. Again, read the description, ask other participants and, if you can, peek into the class to see what they do and if it’s something you’d like to try.

Test it Out

Your homework’s done so now you’re ready to take the test. First and foremost, let the instructor know you are new and trying out the class. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and talk to others to see what they think. While in class, don’t worry if you can’t keep up with the group. Go at your own pace and do what works for you. Here are a few things to consider while trying out a class:

  • How was the instructor? A good instructor will always provide modifications and offer guidance if you are doing something wrong. He or she should also be supportive, motivating and knowledgeable while still challenging you.
  • Is the atmosphere friendly? While you’re not there to make friends and socialize, you also don’t want to be surrounded by people who are going to treat you like an outcast. A major reason people prefer group fitness is the camaraderie they feel with others in the class.
  • Are you being challenged? If you walked out of class without breaking a sweat or feeling like you didn’t do much, you may want to consider trying something a bit more challenging next time.
  • Were you motivated enough? Group classes work for people who need that extra push and motivation. Were the instructor and participants pushing you to work hard? Did you feel like everyone was supporting your efforts in class? Nothing beats having a group of people to cheer you on while you’re trying to conquer something new and challenging.
  • Do you have limitations that may make class more difficult than it should be? Yes, you can always modify or change an exercise, but if you find you have to do that most of the time, you may want to consider a different type of class.

Divide and Conquer

Don’t limit yourself to just one type of class. You may be surprised to find that the ones you feared are the ones you enjoyed the most, so don’t be afraid to explore. And make sure you participate in a variety of classes. So, if Monday, Wednesday and Friday you do boot camp, consider making the other days yoga, Pilates or strength training classes. It’s important to cross train, so your body doesn’t get used to one type of activity. This also helps you avoid overuse injuries which can occur if you’re always doing the same thing day after day.

The Final Word

If attending fitness classes still leaves you feeling anxious, FitOn is just like having your own private fitness class at home. From Full Body Agility and 20/20 HIIT to Kickboxing Bootcamp and Beginner Total Body Pilates, they have just about every style and level for you to try without the stress of being in a class environment. Maybe once you become comfortable with the one-on-one setting, you’ll be ready to tackle a class at the gym.