Psoriatic Arthritis: 9 Ways to Know if a Group Fitness Class Is Right for You

by Tracy Davenport, Ph.D. Health Writer

Exercise is key to living your best life with psoriatic arthritis. A group fitness class can provide structure, accountability, and social support. However, jumping into an intense group fitness class may not always be the best choice if you have psoriatic arthritis. If you answer no to any of the following questions, you may want to take a different direction to stay in shape.

Fitness trainer working with young woman in gym on mat.

Do you have a basic level of fitness?

Group fitness classes may involve exercises or movements that you may not be accustomed to, especially if you have not been working out on your own. It is important that you have a basic level of fitness before joining a class unless the class is specifically aimed at beginners. This way you will know before you begin the class what works for your body and what movements you may want to avoid.

Young women comparing fitness app results after exercise class.

Are you able to put your ego aside?

As a former Division II college athlete, I am a competitor through and through. While this served me well in college, it is sometimes not in my best interest when it comes to my psoriatic arthritis. If you are the kind of person who always needs to compete with others in an athletic setting, then a group exercise class may not be a good choice for you. Psoriatic arthritis requires listening carefully to our bodies and staying in our own lane when it comes to fitness.

Fitness trainer and exercise class.

Is the trainer certified?

Certification programs for athletic professionals ensure their competence through a process of testing their skills and knowledge. Certifications can also provide evidence that the instructor is up to date on the latest information in the field of exercise science. Some of the organizations offering certifications include American College of Sports Medicine, National Strength and Conditioning Association, and National Academy of Sports Medicine.

Group of women laughing and talking in exercise class.

Will you be comfortable communicating with the instructor?

Psoriatic arthritis symptoms can wax and wane. Most likely there will be days when you feel great and other days when you can barely get out of your car. It is important that you feel comfortable communicating your condition to the instructor. This will allow your instructor to be on the same page and modify movements if needed.

Manager working on gym finances at desk.

Is the class tuition refundable?

It is possible that you may feel great when you register for the class, but then have a flare up of your conditions soon after. A reputable gym will have a refund policy in place. The refund may be for the remaining classes or you may be able to apply a credit to a different class once your symptoms feel better. Do not feel bad if you need to discontinue the class. Remember that this happens frequently in the fitness world for a variety of reasons.

Yoga class holding mats.

Are there low impact options?

Psoriatic arthritis should not keep you from getting in amazing shape. However, if you have more joint pain two hours after you exercised than before you started, you may need to ease up on your workout according to the Arthritis Foundation. A knowledgeable instructor will know different modifications that you can try if you need to change up your next workout.

Stretching before exercise, warm-up.

Do you have time to warm up before the class begins?

If the class starts just as you are finishing up an hour commute or after sitting all day at your desk, it may not be a good fit. With the stiffness that often accompanies psoriatic arthritis, it is important that you have adequate time to warm up your muscles and joints before jumping into intense activity.

Young woman leaving the gym.

Can you leave the class early if necessary?

If you are just beginning an exercise routine, it may be wise to start out with 20 or 30 minutes versus 60 minutes. Leaving a group fitness class early may or may not work depending on the instructor and how the class is designed. This is one of the key topics to discuss with the instructor before the class begins.

Supportive friend in exercise class.

Do you have a supportive friend in the class?

Social anxiety can be a symptom of psoriatic arthritis. This can make it even more difficult to exercise in public. It may be helpful to sign up for a group class where you have a friend in the class who can encourage and support you.

Tracy Davenport, Ph.D.
Meet Our Writer
Tracy Davenport, Ph.D.

Davenport is the founder of Using the latest scientific research, she helps people live their healthiest lives via one-on-one coaching, corporate talks, and sharing the more than 1,000 health-related articles she's authored.