Getting in the Work Out
How to conquer your fear of group fitness classes
For those who aren’t familiar with group fitness, breaking a sweat with a bunch of strangers might sound beyond daunting. Maybe you’ve always wanted to try that Zumba class at your gym, but you’re afraid of being laughed at for your two left feet. Perhaps you’re interested in Bikram yoga, but you’re terrified of toppling over during tree pose. Have no fear; there are a slew of strategies to alleviate your anxiety and get the most out of your first group fitness experience.
Find the Right Fit
You may be avoiding group fitness classes because you feel intimidated or overwhelmed by all the options. The good news is that most gyms offer a healthy handful of classes with varying lengths and skill levels. If you’re unsure of where to start, try a class for beginners and work your way up. For example, instead of hopping right into a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) class, give a short and sweet cycling class a spin. Remember that this isn’t a race. Focus on your own personal fitness goals and the rest will fall into place.
For many, the fear of group fitness stems from not knowing what to expect. There may be a million questions milling about in your head: What if everyone in there is more athletic than me? What if I’m the only one who’s never been to a class before? What if the instructor calls me out for making a mistake? Stop being so hard on yourself! If you’re totally panicking, arrive early to communicate any questions with the instructor or fellow classmates to eliminate any what-ifs before your workout.
We’re not here to sugarcoat things — group fitness will feel foreign at first and you may find it difficult to keep up. It won’t feel like this forever. It’s important to stay the whole class, find your groove and get the full experience. It may even take a few classes before you feel completely comfortable, so don’t give up!
Use Your Anxiety to Your Advantage
You might get the jitters as you’re walking into the gym, but try to harness all that nervous energy and put it into your workout. Having butterflies in your stomach will actually amplify your adrenaline, increase your heart rate and boost your performance.
Phone a Friend
You may feel more confident if you bring along a confidant. They say there’s power in numbers, so ask a pal to accompany you. Not only will having a buddy by your side automatically put you at ease, but they can help you out with the choreography if you’re feeling lost or be your partner for team exercises.
Don’t Worry About Other People
You’ll quickly realize that no one in the class is paying attention to you, whether you’re flourishing or falling behind. People don’t come to fitness classes to chastise others; they’re too busy trying to better themselves. You might even meet people who share your goals and values that will motivate you to keep coming back.
Use Mistakes as Motivation
When you’re in your head, it’s easy to forget that everyone makes mistakes. Not only are mistakes simply part of being human, but they can also be a powerful teaching tool. Making mistakes is inevitable, but it’s up to you to take those errors and use them to move forward. Everyone has to start somewhere, so believe in yourself and trust the learning process.
Don’t Take it Too Seriously
The most important thing to remember about group exercise classes is that they’re all about having a good time. At the end of the day, it’s simply a fun alternative to the monotony of the treadmill or elliptical. You’re not being graded on how skilled or in shape you are, so don’t put so much pressure on yourself. Take a deep breath and have fun!