6 Things to Know Before the First Fitness Class

What I Wish I Knew Before First Group Fitness Class
Photo: Pond5

The bright lights, wall-to-wall mirrors and spandex-clad regulars might leave you too intimidated to even step foot inside a boutique fitness studio. Which is totally understandable. (And why we love our DailyBurn workouts that much more.) It’s natural to feel like an outsider looking in: “There are so many unspoken rules, unfamiliar machines and potentially hard-to-navigate areas,” says Lisa Niren, head coach at Peloton Cycle. But don’t let your anxiety stop you from checking out that new HIIT class or stepping on a VersaClimber. Here, a few things you should know before you attend, plus tips from top boutique trainers on how to handle it all.

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6 Things to Know Before Your First Fitness Class

“Be patient, keep trying and know it will get less frustrating the more you practice.”

1. It’s OK to ask for help.
“When you first walk into a class, find your instructor or facilities staff and have them get you set up properly,” says Niren. She recommends arriving at least 10 minutes early — we’d even say 15 if you want to get comfortably situated before the sweat session begins. And your instructor is there precisely to help you, especially in terms of your positioning. “Proper form is everything [when it comes to avoiding injury],” says Marcy Modica, instructor at SLT NYC, a Pilates studio in New York City. “It is the instructor’s job to set you up for success; tell you where to put your hands, feet and body, where you should be feeling the exercise, or how to modify it for any injuries or sensitive spots,” she adds. Bottom line? If you need something, speak up.

2. Comparing yourself to others won’t make you feel better or worse about yourself.
While you may feel insecure, keep in mind that everyone is there for his or her own good, not to judge your performance. “No one cares how you look or what you’re wearing,” or, in the case of Pilates, how high your leg extension is. “Everyone is too busy focusing on their own form,” says Modica. So chill out and don’t worry if you can’t get into Crow Pose (most of us still struggle after years of regular yoga practice). We’re all at different levels, and the guy in a handstand next to you isn’t bothered by your newb status. If you’re still feeling unsure of yourself, Niren suggests bringing a workout pal along or first trying the class at non-peak hours.

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3. Getting frustrated is part of the process.
Remember: These pro-designed workouts are designed to be tough, not unlike our Inferno HR or Pilates: Phase 2 both are. Attending a new class is supposed to be challenging, explains Modica. In fact, it’s almost “like learning a new language,” she says. “Be patient, keep trying and know it will get less frustrating the more you practice.” Whatever you do though, “just don’t quit,” says Niren. Frustration can sometimes be the ignition of true passion, even if you don’t recognize that at first. The key, says Niren, is to look for signs of change, soreness being the most obvious, and generally first, sign.

4. You’ll want to eat something before. Seriously.
“It makes me crazy when someone shows up to class and has to stop multiple times because they’re feeling faint. It signals to me that they are not taking care of themselves,” says Modica. “You can’t move nonstop for an hour without fueling your body.” Niren’s favorite pre (and post!) workout snack is a medium size banana. “They’re essentially nature’s Power Bar,” she says, “and are packed with digestible carbohydrates and loaded with potassium, which helps maintain muscle function.” Not a fruit fan? Try a slice of whole-wheat toast with peanut butter.

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5. Dehydration can happen to anyone. And it ain’t pretty.
Drinking water is critical to a great workout: after all, it does make up about two-thirds of your body. (And forget those fancy flavors you’re seeing in the market — plain H20 is always best, says Modica, not to mention calorie-free.) Bring your own bottle, since each studio’s water supply may vary. And don’t worry about overhydrating, also known as hyponatremia. It’s unlikely you’ll drink too much group fitness setting, Modica says. It’s more commonly associated with endurance sports, she adds.

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6. There are good days, and then there are bad days.
It’s important to remind yourself that progress isn’t necessarily (and in fact, often not) linear. There will be classes when you can nail a resistance you hadn’t hit before or get into a new pose, and likewise, there will be classes that follow where you can’t get those same power numbers or move your limbs the same way. That’s totally fine. Remember, there will be peaks and valleys. Enjoy the ride — and both the mental and physical rewards you’ll reap.

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