January and February is the time of year that many people decide to lose weight, exercise, and improve their diet. Group classes such as Silver Sneakers, Zumba, Cycling, etc. are some great choices. People who participate in group exercise routines are more likely to continue participation due to regularly scheduled times and other participants often hold you accountable and offer continuing encouragement. Below are some suggestions for when you begin a new fitness class.
• Introduce yourself and let the instructor know that you are trying the class for the first time. You should mention any injuries or medical conditions that might limit your activity level. This assists the instructor in monitoring you during the classes.
A good instructor will provide options if the class includes an exercise that may not suit you; the instructor can also keep an eye on your technique during class. If the instructor introduces you in the class, other students will often give you some pointers about the class.
• Buddy up and take the class with a friend. The social support is important. Often, going to a new class with a friend can make the class less intimidating and more fun.
• If you are uncomfortable standing or sitting in the front, then find a space in the middle. Definitely do not stand or sit in the back row. I like to see new students and know that I can be seen by them. If you are in the middle, you can also watch participants in the front who probably attend classes regularly. Since I teach outside a gym, my classes do not have mirrors, but in a gym, fitness rooms usually have mirrors. Don’t be intimidated – everyone is watching themselves! And hopefully you will too. Mirrors give you an opportunity to look at your form.
• Listen to your body. If a certain exercise feels uncomfortable or unsafe for your body, feel free to substitute another exercise, omit part of the exercise, or just skip it all together (let your instructor know). During my classes, I often remind students to skip an exercise if they have injuries or pain. Never hesitate to ask the instructor to clarify or even watch your technique after class. Form and technique are more important than intensity or number of repetitions of an exercise. I am always glad when a student asks for help because I know they are serious!
• Try the class at least three times before you decide you do not like it. I remember the first time I took a step class, I hated it. After another try, I became a faithful student and eventually a step class instructor. Try taking classes from different instructors. Each instructor makes the class unique based his/her personality and background.
I love exercising in a group setting even when I am not teaching. It is social and fun. Some people (including me) work harder when working in a group. No matter what you enjoy, I am sure there are classes available for you. If you cannot find what you are looking for, give me a call. I can possibly point you in the right direction!
Janet Hunt is a Certified Personal Trainer and can be reached at 256-614-3530 to schedule an appointment.