There are so many fitness classes to choose from now.
Now, even the most minimalist gym offers a more diverse menu. From yoga and lateral slide training to kick-boxing and African dance, our options are growing, helping to keep us challenged and motivated. Having more choices, however, inevitably leads to questions. What’s a cardio funk class all about, anyway? What if you are the only one who doesn’t know the moves? And how can you figure out if the class is going to provide the work-out you need?
During 10 years of teaching, I’ve seen plenty of people take a fitness class for the first time and end up leaving early, feeling defeated. Even if you’ve made regular gym visits a way of life, entering a new class can be intimidating. Consider the following tips to help you make the transition:
KNOW THY LEVEL.
Before you begin any new class, make sure you know and respect your own fitness level. If you were once in the habit of taking intermediate or advanced classes, but took a two year hiatus from working out, you need to start over again in a class geared to beginners. Chances are, you’ll acclimatise to the workout relatively quickly, but this is the best way to get back into your groove and avoid excessive muscle or joint soreness and/or injury. Try to observe the class before joining, so that you can better gauge your potential success.
UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU’RE GETTING INTO.
Now, more than ever, it can be difficult to decode class names. The “cardio/hip/house/extreme” class may sound like fun, but is it going to be right for you? That’s where description come in handy – and why it’s important to read them before you take your place in the class. Find out if the workout you’re considering is designed for all levels, or just for one specific level, and whether it’s a dance-based class or calls for more straight forward athletic moves. Is it similar to anything you’ve done before, or will the moves be completely new to your body? Experiencing a new kind of workout just takes an open mind and a bit of patience.
FEAR NOT THE INSTRUCTOR.
As an instructor, I’ve noticed the tendency for new class participants to isolate themselves, either hiding in the back of the room or by not speaking to the instructor before class. Remember, the instructor is there to help you, so don’t be shy! Although quality instructors will ask who is new to the class before starting, it’s equally important for you to introduce yourself to the instructor. Let him or her know that this is your first experience, and that you may not feel completely comfortable. Don’t hesitate to ask questions. He or she can tell you what to expect, and will be able to keep an eye out for you during the workout, offering simpler variations of the moves if you’re having difficulty.
ENJOY YOUR OWN PACE
Be easy on yourself and don’t worry about how you look or what everyone else is doing. Believe it or not, the other members of the class are too busy focusing on their own moves to notice if your left leg is in the position your right leg is supposed to be in. I always let my students know that I don’t care if they don’t master every step, and that they should just have fun and work at their own pace. Generally speaking, it takes a few tries for students to get comfortable with the moves. Stay through the entire class if you can – even if you need to stop early and cool down before the rest of your classmates – and approach your instructor with any questions or comments afterwards. I’ll guarantee that you’ll be congratulated for your hard work, and encouraged to come back for an even better experience the next time.