Wednesday, February 2, 2011

5 Things: Navigating Group Fitness

I walked into the studio with my friend Andrew and took it all in. The shiny wood floor thick with lacquer where it had filled in dents from weights fallen, equipment dropped, maybe even some unsuspecting and ambitious soul like myself cracking a tooth during aerobics for the first time. 

I grabbed the neon step feeling uncomfortable in my cotton cut off shorts and plain tee. 
I didn't match... anything. 
I didn't match the bright step others were sure to bound over with energy and ease. 
I didn't match the shiny floor, I was apprehensive and dull. 
I didn't match the gym, I was not "fit". 

But that's why I was there, to get fit, to work hard, to conquer all my fears and fat and tears with that beast called: Group Fitness. 

I set up the step and started the class. The music was great: upbeat, fast, pumpin' and the instructor was enthusiastic and made the moves seem easy. Me? I was the one who turned the wrong direction slamming into people, not getting the steps or catching on to what was coming next. I NEVER went back to step class. 

That was almost 10 years ago. 

Group Fitness is either something people hate, love or are scared to death to try. Why? Mostly because it's a new experience and if you don't know what to do, it's scary. 

How to Navigate Group Fitness: 

Many times people assume that they can't DO a class just based on what it's called, rumors they have heard or a misconception. Always figure out what the class actually entails. Is boot camp only for athletes? Probably not...  Is specialty fitness like kettle bells as expensive as you think? I bet not...Do you need special shoes to spin? Nope! Hop on! Find out what's holding you back and get to the bottom so you can get on your way. 

Instructors, trainers, other members, at every kind of club there are people there who can tell you about the class offerings. Don't be afraid to approach someone either at the front desk or coming out of the class you want to try and get their recommendation.  Find out from the instructor how hard the class is, if you can easily make modifications or if you have to be able to do certain exercises before going to the class. 

Jump in and try it! There's no better way to learn! See if you have the coordination to do step aerobics, you may surprise yourself. See if all that bike commuting really does make you a spin/cycle pro or if you can make it through a boot camp by modifying just a few moves. Soon you will be one of the strongest in the class, one of the regulars, one of the strongest. I can tell... 

Drag A friend
It's always easier to face down a new experience with someone at your side! ESPECIALLY if that someone has already taken the class you want to do. Get a few guest passes from your gym or tag along to a friends gym to try the class you want. You don't have to go it alone! Power in numbers as you power through to find the right fit for your fitness level and needs. 

Forgive yourself 
Everyone is new at something at one time in their life. Go easy on yourself, everyone will flub up, even the instructors. Learn to laugh at your self and others will be more at ease too, you can bring a whole sense of fun to the class based on how you choose to treat yourself with love. What is life, but a wonderful journey filled with hills, valleys, pot holes and pit stops. Everyone is on that same road even if we are in different places. 

There you GO! Off to be a group fitness Superstar! What's been your BEST experience with Group classes? 
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