Gym members who are novices to the group fitness studio often feel there is a secret handshake required to walk through the door. Their lack of experience with group fit formats, sporadic knowledge of particular exercises, or simply their introverted personality has them working out on their own in lieu of the magic that can be unleashed inside of a group fitness class.
I’m a group fitness professional. I teach Les Mills BODYJAM®, SH’BAM, GRIT, and BODYPUMP. Naturally, I think group fitness can solve all the world’s problems and furthermore I believe the world class programming and quality assurance that Les Mills provides adds a whole new tier of awesome. At the end of the day, I implore you — yes you, I’m talking to you, fledgling of group fitness — to step off the elliptical and experience what it is like to be inside the studio, heart pounding to the bass and sweating it out with like-minded individuals.
Once you are ready to shake off any lingering trepidation and unwanted pounds, here is a list of 10 unspoken rules for taking a group fitness class.
Rule #1: Dress for success
It's not a fashion show, but let me just work this catwalk right quick before we get the class started. I’m fortunate enough to be a Reebok-sponsored athlete and have amazing gear provided for me. I’m a big believer in: If you look good, you feel good. That said, you don’t need to go out and buy a new workout wardrobe – just wear something that you feel comfortable and confident in.
Rule #2: There are no assigned seats
I'm convinced some folks would pee on their regular spot if they could. Be cool. There is room for everyone and we should be welcoming to new faces. Be aware of your place in relation to other classmates, making sure that everyone has the opportunity to check their form or their hair in the mirror.
Rule #3: Refrain from talking over the instructor
Just don't. It's distracting for the instructors and the newcomers, who need to hear the class introduction and pertinent info about the next 55 minutes. I'm like a second-grade teacher — I'll stare at you and announce that I can wait, or I’ll ask you to share what’s so funny with the class.
Rule #4: You aren’t being graded
Yeah. You don’t get an end-of-class evaluation. Maybe you’re feeling “yourself” one day? Awesome! Go, you. Be all sorts of extra and make that workout work for you, boss! Feeling a little low or just not like yourself? Kudos to you for being there and pushing through anyway. We want you to feel successful — never defeated.
Rule #5: Support each other
Group fitness isn't you fitness. You are not alone in the room. A pack mentality is at work. Positive vibes and energy are cultivated by the collective. Whether you are the type to dance like no one is watching or everyone is watching, I can tell you with some certainty that most of the other members in class are focused on the instructor and themselves — not you, navigating through that advanced grapevine. Let go of insecurity and shine.
Rule #6: Focus on your learning style
Visual, auditory, or kinesthetic — we all have different ways of learning new material. Be on the lookout for classes or instructors that cater to how you learn. Any good instructor should touch on all styles to make the experience inclusive.
Rule #7: Bring a friend, or five!
People need to feel like they are a part of something. It’s basic human nature. Once you find a class that gives you results, whether they be physical, emotional, or spiritual, it will become your weekly must-do. You will risk a speeding ticket just to get there on time. You will rearrange appointments and commitments just to get your fix. It becomes a part of you. Invite someone who could benefit and share that fitness love with others.
Rule #8: Let group fitness bring the joy back into cardio
Some folks are all for the dead mill (ahem, sorry…the treadmill). It serves its purpose but I don’t ever need to know what that is. Dance, dance, dance. That’s where the cardio is at for me. Point here is, it doesn’t have to be dance but there are countless group fitness classes that get the job done. There is no one way to achieve results. I just think you should achieve said results in a kick-glutes group class surrounded by awesome people and music.
Rule #9: Follow the leader
Never been to a class and don't know what to do? Perfect! Let the workout be planned and demonstrated for you. No thought required. Are you a veteran to the gym? Excellent! Take some of the pressure off to keep your workout ever changing and pop into a class so you can focus all your energy into reaching your max effort. The point is, the class is already structured for you — all you have to do is follow the leader. Just avoid breaking into a set of uninstructed burpees between tracks. Follow the plan y’all.
Rule #10 It’s okay to smile…or cry.
Whatever it may be that you need on that particular day, let the workout give it to you. Group fitness can be a powerful elixir. You just need to drink it.