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Group Fitness Class Etiquette & Beginner Tips

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So, you’re bored with the same old treadmill or elliptical workout, plugging away on a mouse wheel to nowhere?

You’ve walked past those group fitness classes in action at your gym.

Wow, that seems more fun. But I could never do that because (insert excuse here).

Group fitness classes are less intimidating than you think.

Here are some essential tips you should know before you jump in to make sure you’re warmly welcomed and not crowded out.

PS – These tips aren’t just limited to newbies, regulars could use a refresher on group fitness etiquette as well.

Talk to the instructor

Approach them after class and let them know you’re interested in trying the class and what your concerns are. They can tell you what to expect and if the class would be a good fit for you.

This would also be a great time to discuss injury concerns.

Wear the right type of clothes (and shoes)

I’m not talking about brands.

I’m talking about the proper attire to make sure you’re comfortable and decrease your risk of injury.

As an example, it’s not a great idea to wear flared pants to a spin class or running sneakers to Zumba.

You don’t want your pants caught in a bike or a knee injury because you couldn’t pivot your feet with those grippy running shoes.

Make sure your ensemble doesn’t set you up for a wardrobe malfunction when you start moving and bending.

To read more about proper fitness footwear, click here.

Female Hands Unrolling Yoga Mat Before group fitness class

Arrive early to class and get set up

Don’t know what equipment you need? Just ask the instructor or some fellow classmates.

Depending on the class you might need a variety of mats, weights, steps, bands, etc.

Keep track of equipment and make sure it’s not in your way. Ask for help with set up if necessary.

Pro tip: Some studios require you to reserve your spot online and may have a late window after which you cannot enter the class. This is for your safety and to minimize disruption to the rest of the class.

At a gym, some classes may require a sign-up or ticket from the front desk to save a spot.

Find out the policies in advance.

Let the instructor know if you have injuries or need modifications

A group fitness class is just that – a group. Instructors can’t spend all their time watching you personally.

If you have concerns or need modifications, speak up!

If you don’t ask, you don’t get. You need to be prepared with modifications that work for you to safely participate in the class.

Not sure? Check out this article on modifications!

Be mindful of personal space

This one’s a biggie.

Don’t set up right on top of someone or invade someone else’s space while moving around. People don’t take too kindly to this, and you’ll likely get the side-eye at the very least.

To avoid making enemies, if you’re not sure, ask, “am I ok to set up here?’ Most people would much rather have you ask than have to oust you from their space.

Regular class groupies can be pretty territorial, so you’ve been warned.

Respect personal space.

Don’t compare yourself to others

Everyone is different, don’t worry; focus on you.

Don’t try to jump in with the heaviest weights or the most difficult options on the first day.

Be honest with yourself about your current fitness level.

Pace yourself.

Most classes are 45-60 min, don’t use all your gas in the first 10 min.

Try multiple instructors and classes

Don’t give up because you didn’t like one class or one instructor. Every class and teaching style is different.

Bring water and stay hydrated

Especially in the summer, it can get sweltering inside too! Water is essential, and you always need more than you think.

Try not to block someone’s view of the mirror

Sounds silly.

Most people don’t think about it. But mirrors can be important for form.

Don’t be the person who shows up late and plops their stuff down haphazardly in a spot that isn’t really a spot.

Be respectful to the instructor and those around you

These are things we learn in kindergarten, but it’s incredible how many people need a reminder.

Painfully obvious things like talking on the phone, texting, carrying on a conversation, or in general doing anything that might ruin someone else’s experience is a hard no.

You’ll get some dirty looks at best.

Again, you’ve been warned. If you have an emergency, by all means, step out.

Wait your turn to enter the group fitness room

There can be very little time between classes in a multi-function group fitness room.

Wait for the previous class to end, don’t bum-rush and start setting up before they’re done.

It’s rude.

Chillax, you’re going to get in. You can be on the prowl for your favorite spot without trampling someone like a Black Friday sale. Not an exaggeration.

And no, it’s not cool to jump into the last 10 min of class, just so you can be on the floor for the next one ahead of everyone else.

Same goes for those in the previous class. If you know time is tight and the door resembles Grand Central Station at rush hour, pick up your stuff and move along.

Take the socializing outside and move out of the way for others to set up.

If you need to leave early, clean up and quietly sneak out

Being on time is great, but life happens.

The classy way to deal with this is to let the instructor know ahead of time or do a wave. Some equipment, such as spin bikes, requires you to wipe down after use.

Don’t leave a sweaty bike for someone else when you skip out early.

The same goes for showing up late. Quietly gather your stuff and don’t be disruptive.

If you haven’t warmed up, go easy for a few minutes.

Modifications are totally OK and encouraged

But don’t start making up your own routines in the middle of class.

Modify appropriately for you within the general outline of the class to show respect for the instructor and your fellow group fitness classmates.

If you don’t have the endurance to make it through a full class, keep trying until you can. And utilize modifications!

Now that you’re prepared, have fun!

Remember, no one is a pro the first time.

If you enjoy something, keep coming back and improving. Once you know the ropes, you’ll be able to try any fitness class with confidence.

Group fitness classes are a fun way to get your sweat sesh in and decompress from the stress everywhere else.

Make sure to stay away from these group fitness faux pas, and casually pass this on to repeat offenders!

Featured image credit: Copyright Pixelrockstar

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