Advice for the Fitness Class Newbie.


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So remember back when I was excited about taking so many different fitness classes at my new gym and I said that I would share a post about it?

Probably not, because that was back in September. But hey, better late than never, right?

So when I joined my new gym, I was overwhelmed by all the different classes that it offered. So I made it my personal goal to try as many different ones as I could. While I had taken fitness classes before, I had only tried a handful of different ones and it had been at least a year or two since I had taken one, so I think we can say that I was officially in newbie status.

Well, over a few months, I managed to try 34 different workout classes (my gym offers over 50 different ones, not including the aqua classes). So, do you think I got enough variety in? Wink 


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Kinda true.

I definitely learned some things about how to best approach workout classes when you’re new. So I’ve put a little list together if you’re thinking about trying some fitness classes for the first time!

Gym Rule 1

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Probably a good gym rule in general. 

1. Let the instructor know that you’re new.

This way, if the class requires a bit of a learning curve, the instructor can keep an eye on you to make sure you’re following along ok and break the steps down further if you need it. For example, boxing: if it’s someone’s first time, the instructor can break down combos step by step to make it easier to follow. I think most instructors will ask/know that you’re not a regular, but definitely something worth mentioning to them. 

2. Show up a few minutes early.

Especially useful if you don’t know what equipment is involved. This gives you the chance to make sure you’re getting all the equipment you need.

3. If you don’t know or you need help, ask!

Up until a few months ago, I’m pretty sure that I had never been on a spin bike before in my life. So at my first spin class, the first thing I did was call over the instructor to show me how to set up the bike. Believe me, the class will go better if you’re not spending the first couple of minutes fiddling with your equipment because you’ve never set it up before. If you’re unsure about how to do a certain exercise, make sure you wave the instructor over to show you – better to avoid injury!

4. Make sure you can see the instructor clearly – don’t head for the back corner.

Whenever I’m trying a new class, I have to resist the temptation to head for the back corner where no one can see me if I screw up (like my first couple of Step classes…those were a mess). But being able to clearly see the instructor will make following along sooo much easier. If you’re not comfortable in the front, at least aim for the middle and slightly to the side of the instructor for the best view.

5. Remember that different instructors have different teaching styles.

If you try a class once and hate it, you don’t necessarily have to give up on it! Different teaching styles will mesh with different people. The first time I tried step, I HATED it. I couldn’t follow along, the instructor had no enthusiasm, I didn’t like the music…just a bad scene. A few weeks later I gave it another shot with an instructor that I knew I liked, and BOOM. Fell in love with it. And as for the first instructor…I actually really like her as a yoga teacher. So try different instructors out and figure out whose teaching style best meshes with how you like to workout.

6. Give everything a shot at least once.

You never know what you’re going to end up falling in love with. There were classes that I was positive I was going to absolutely love and ended kind of ‘meh’ about (like aerial yoga…sounds amazing, but I actually preferred hot yoga) and classes I thought that I would hate that I ended up really liking (basically anything dance-based). So try a variety of different things, and you may find yourself with a new love!


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Except this is probably true.

7. Go easy on yourself.

Don’t worry if you’re a beginner and you struggle to follow along the first couple of times you try a class. Everyone has to start somewhere, and if you keep at it you’ll pick it up! Don’t compare yourself to everyone around you.

And just for fun, my top five classes that I’ve taken:

  • 5. Pop Dance. So, this one reaaaally surprises me. But it’s fun, and one of those ‘doesn’t-feel-like-a-workout’ workouts.
  • 4. Extreme Circuit. Exactly how it sounds – extreme. An hour long circuit style workout with everything from TRX, kettlebells, box jumps and battle ropes. Pretty sure I sweat more in this class than I ever have before in my life.
  • 3. Physique. Spending the last couple of years focusing more on heavy lifting than anything else, I’ve been surprised by how much I like this class. Light weights, lots of repetitions, and work on the ballet bar. Different than my normal routine, but a nice change!
  • 2. Hot Yoga. While I’ve dabbled in yoga on and off for years, I’ve really been loving it lately! I’ve been noticing more improvements with my flexibility, and overall I’ve noticed that I leave the class feeling even calmer. 
  • 1. Interval Box. Basically, it moves between fast-paced boxing rounds and body strength intervals – pushups, squats, burpees, skaters, the like. It kills me  every time, but I love it. And awesome if you’re feeling angry that day Wink

So, hopefully you’re feeling inspired to try out some new things in the gym Wink

Have a good one!

<— Are you a big fan of workout classes, or would you rather do your own thing?

<— What would be your #1 tip for someone trying a class for the first time?

<— Your favourite workout class?


  1. So damn jelly. I remember when I first read about your fitness classes I was shocked at how many and how varied they were! You need to still tell me about the drum one!

    The new gym I joined don’t offer fitness classes but they aren’t that special here- although I’m gonna try out a kick boxing one soon!
    Arman @ thebigmansworld recently posted..He thinks…Out Loud #7My Profile

    • haha basically it’s a bit of cardio and body weight stuff, but you have drumsticks that you’re banging together/on the floor the whole time. Weird, but pretty fun.
  2. Your gym offers 34 workout classes??? Omg that’s crazy. Mine offers 10…maybe. These are all really great tips. I definitely think fitness classes can be intimidating at first, but it is worth giving everything a shot at least once. Currently the only workout class I take regularly is yoga, though I’ve been wanting to give spinning a shot if my hip flexors will let me.
    Erin @ The Almond Eater recently posted..Wintertime Work OutfitMy Profile
  3. I am so nervous about classes! It is actually a goal of mine to be more… involved in the fitness world outside of my home. This was a really helpful post for me and I hope that one day I am better suited for the scary outdoors! (yikes)
    Caitlyn@BareBalance recently posted..02.20.2014.. thinking out loud.. gratitude, humility, fears and kabochaMy Profile
  4. I think the most frustrating thing is when people who are new come late and then leave early. blows my mind. especially when they refuse to do what the teacher is doing and instead just do their own thing. crazy in my mind. I like these tips though, all about trying something at least once
    Alex @ therunwithin recently posted..Freaking Boo Hoo.My Profile
  5. I wish I was a bigger fan of workout classes, but for now, I’m much more inclined to do my own thing. I think the fact that the only thing that works with my schedule is spin helps with that, since I’m not a huge spin fan. I do like one instructor…but I like being able to sleep in a little more right now and then do my own thing on the bike a little later. Rest trumps workout class for now! Getting back into my usual running routine helps with that too…I basically use the gym for the bike to shake out my legs. Still trying to make sure I don’t go crazy fitness wise, so keeping myself to the bike is the way to go for now. I do wish my gym offered a greater variety of classes, though. I’d love to try some of the ones you mentioned!
    Caitlin recently posted..Lesson LearnedMy Profile
    • I realized that I’m not the biggest spin fan either. It’s ok, but definitely not one of my favourites. And I’m with you on the rest right now!
  6. That variety sounds unreal! I typically don’t enjoy fitness classes, but I really do love Zumba!!
    Suzanne @ hello, veggy! recently posted..Simplify and SoftenMy Profile
  7. These are all great tips for newbies. I always feel awkward when I’m “new” to the gym but not new to the type of class being offered. I know how many regulars are usually in classes so I feel so out of place but then I become a regular and all is right with the world haha As for those zumba pictures, I love the top one about dancing like a stripper. SO TRUE.
    Sarah @pickyrunner recently posted..I’m back!My Profile
  8. I love fitness classes so much. Not Zumba. Well, you already know how in love I am with Bodypump… the saddest part about my move is giving up my gym membership! Canmore is a small town & although they have a few gyms, yoga studios and a Crossfit box, there are no “brands”.

    I also really love my yoga studio… there’s something so special about going to an actual studio vs. gym yoga. It’s more professional/relaxing. SIGH.
    Jo @ Living Mint Green recently posted..I Have A FriendMy Profile

    • If I could afford it, i’d join an actual yoga studio. I like the ones at the gym (especially because I can actually get hot yoga there) but the environment in an actual studio is definitely better
  9. It certainly isn’t a surprise that I love group fitness classes, and I agree with all of these tips. I think the biggest and most important one for me is going easy on yourself. You’re there to workout, but you’re also there to have fun. No one’s looking at you, so just go for it!
    Holly @ EatGreatBEGreat recently posted..Totally Random Bits of Info #10My Profile
  10. This post is great, it reminds me I really need to try some new classes. I love the dance-y classes but have gotten into a rut of just taking the classes I feel like I “should” in order to get the most out of my workout. But who knows what else may be out there that I love!
    Lindsay recently posted..Ravioli and a ReubenMy Profile
  11. I’m so jealous–please move your gym to Houston! I want 50+ classes to choose from…

    I’ve been trying to motivate myself to go to a body pump-esque class for the past forever (I’ve been once and it was a pretty good experience and I figure a little extra strength training never hurt), but I haven’t been able to do so. (It’s at 5:30pm…and I’m always hungry at 5:30…and sometimes I’m tired…I know, excuses out the wazoo.)

    I wish we had something like the extreme circuit class–that sounds like so much fun.
    Beth @ Mangoes and Miles recently posted..Inspiration Can Be Found In The Simplest Of PlacesMy Profile

  12. Tell the instructor you’re new is my #1. I used to hate doing that but now I raise my arm loud and proud. The instructor will know if you’re new anyway so you may as well tell him or her!
    Davida @ The Healthy Maven recently posted..Lemon Buckwheat WafflesMy Profile
  13. I used to not be a group fitness person, but this past year I started going to spin class & I love it. I agree with all your tips. My advice to people starting out is to not be afraid to ask if something is not clear or you don’t understand. Also, go with a buddy if you feel unsure about trying something new. Having a friend’s support goes a long way for motivation.
  14. Woah your gym is amazing! All of those classes in once place is honestly unheard of, at least anywhere I’ve ever been. I’ve gotten better about letting instructors know when I’m knew or if something is bugging any part of my body so they can help me adjust, especially in yoga as of late. I also really want to try a barre class.
    Ang @ Nutty for Life recently posted..Buy Real Cheese [Thinking Out Loud #6]My Profile
  15. These are perfect I love your rule about not heading for the back corner – I do the same thing. Being in the middle makes it easier to see the instructor and the other people to follow along with. I had the same experience with instructors – one I didn’t like teaching pump, but she is an awesome Vive instructor
    Liz @ Carpe Diem and Run recently posted..Thinking Out LoudMy Profile
  16. You’re so cool that you tried out so many new fitness classes!!! Way to really broaden those fitness horizons. Rockstar!

    As a fitness instructor, I love these tips! Esp the first one–as a newbie, TELL the instructor you’re new! It’s so helpful for us to help YOU out & help you feel comfortable. Any instructor should be able to do that regardless (helping everyone out), but it’s SO nice to know for sure someone is new the format & not just necessarily to the class, ya know?

    Great post!!

  17. So the gyms in my area offer like… 5 different classes I used to be huge on classes when I was younger (we’re talking like.. 18) but it’s been years and years since I’ve been. Part of me wants to give it a shot, but there’s definitely a huge intimidation factor there. That pic of Ace Ventura? That’d definitely be me in Zumba

    Great tips, lady!
    Amanda @ .running with spoons. recently posted... thinking out loud #66 .My Profile

  18. I enjoy taking classes. I am bias to Flywheel and Flybarre. I won’t go back to RPM now, because I am used to the atmosphere of Flywheel. I love taking barre and Body pump classes. Sadly, I am not able to take Body pump as much as I’d like, but since I am changing my evening work schedule I may be able to now. I am stoked for that!
    Tara@PNWRunner recently posted..Stomping GroundsMy Profile
  19. What gym do you go to again? Because I want these classes!

    Great tips and some I would do well to remember. My go-to strategy is hide in the corner which is clearly no effective!
    Gabby @ the veggie nook recently posted..hempy halvahMy Profile

  20. Great tips! I used to shy away from the fitness classes but I did a Zumba class with a friend and really enjoyed it. I don’t have 34 variety of classes to choose from but I’m definitely going to start mixing it up a bit!
    Monica recently posted..The Best BCAA SupplementMy Profile
  21. Yay, so glad to have found your blog via running with spoons, love this post and I so agree. I thought I’d hate Zumba but 2 years on I’m still there! Looking forward to reading more from here
    Catherine recently posted..I Dig 21.2.14My Profile
  22. I’m a huge fan of group fitness classes. They push me harder than I push myself, plus I get to try a lot of new things (like box jumps last week, which I now love). I’m very impressed you did 34 different types of classes. Now that’s variety. Damn girl; you get two snaps and a twirl from me, but not a step because I haven’t tried that class yet.
    Great tips as well.
    • I was terrified of box jumps for so long! Every time I went to do one, I just had a mental image of me completely wiping out and destroying my shins. Fortunately I got over that though, they are awesome!
  23. This is a very helpful post for me being new to regular exercise. Being an introvert, I don’t think I’m going to sign up for classes or get membership in the gym. A few months ago, I started sprinting 2 miles on the weekends with my dog and I enjoyed it. I noticed some improvements on my health when I started sprinting — my menstrual pains were kept off bay and I had more energy for the day and felt less lazy. Admittedly, part of my sprinting was to lose some weight. However, there were incidences lately where joggers/runners in the area are being groped by this young man and he has not been caught yet so I stopped sprinting. I tried alternative ways to get regular exercise and I discovered Nike+ Training Club app (for free) were they have about 30 mins to 45 mins workouts! Perfect for me.
  24. This is awesome! Definitely some great advice…especially the one about not hiding in the back corner! I used to always do that until I realized that I was only hurting myself by not being able to see clearly. I’m still jealous of all the fitness classes that you have available, but for right now, I’m content with my LiveFit trainer workouts during the week and hot yoga on the weekends! Seriously, I never thought I’d love yoga this much!
    Heather @ Kiss My Broccoli recently posted..VEGAN Beautifying Beet SmoothieMy Profile

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