How to Get the Most Out of Exercise Classes

Monday, March 14, 2016

Exercise classes can be a great way to get in shape, and burn tons of calories very efficiently. For the most part, they offer a great whole body workout - but, like anything in life, you only get out what you put in. If you want to get the most out of the time you spend in class, here’s what to do:

Show up Early

There are many reasons you may want to show up early for your class. Maybe you don’t like to work out with your glasses on, and a spot in the front of class will help you see the instructor better. Maybe you need a little extra time to unwind from your day. Perhaps you like a longer warm up than what the instructor builds into the class period. Maybe you want to have some extra cardio or strength training time before class, to round out the workout even more.

No matter what the reasoning, showing up early for class isn’t a bad idea. While fitness classes aren’t exactly the same as the sports of our youth, the idea “if you’re early you’re on time, and if you’re on time you’re late” still applies. If you rush in right as the instructor starts the first moves, you’re not really ready to get started. Even if you can show up two or three minutes early - not much in the grand scheme of things - you’ll be in the right mindset.

Be Prepared

Nothing’s worse than launching into a workout, only to realize you don’t have water. Or a towel. Or your sneakers. Or gloves for a boxing class. Or whatever special equipment you need to succeed. Just like the Boy Scouts say, always be prepared. Plan in advance for what you need, and pack a bag early in the day. Throw it in the car as you run errands or leave for work, and you’ll be ready to go later on.

Push Yourself

One of the major benefits of fitness classes is that you have another human (the instructor) to be accountable to. Don’t forget to push yourself and work hard throughout the class. Stay within your limits - if you need to modify a move or lower your intensity for a brief period of time, do it - but remember that you can and should complete the class.

Enjoy the Community

Another huge benefit of a fitness class is the community you join when you enter one. No matter what difficult, silly-feeling, or otherwise different exercise your instructor is asking you to complete, you’re surrounded by a group of like-minded individuals who feel just as silly or challenged. Whether it’s your very first day working out or you’ve been to many classes in your life, there is someone in every class who is just like you. Take the time to chat, bond, and enjoy the company of others before or after class: this makes the entire experience more enjoyable.

Find the Right Classes

Not every class is right for everyone. Maybe you love the calming challenge of Yoga… or maybe you just find yourself thinking about how difficult it is to flow from move to move. Maybe a dance-fitness class brings you back to the ballet or hip hop classes of your youth...or maybe you feel totally uncoordinated. That’s okay. Regardless of fitness fads, celebrity trends, or what your best friend recommends, it’s okay not to like a certain class - just keep trying different formats until you find what you love.

Schedule the Time

Most importantly, allow yourself to schedule time for a fitness class into your day. If you treat it as an agenda item, something that quite literally must be done, you’re more likely to do it. By making your own wellness a priority, you’re giving your best self to those around you.

Have you tried a fitness class recently that you really love? Let us know in the comments.