Group exercise classes are a great way to get in shape, meet new people and stay motivated when it comes to getting into shape. There are a variety of strength, core and cardio classes that are available at your local gym.
However, unlike personal training, it is hard to assess and correct every person who takes a group exercise class. The instructor has a lot going on with planning the workout, arranging music, cueing the group and coaching individuals without making them feel uncomfortable. So, getting that one-on-one assessment for proper alignment is not always available.
Today, I want to outline a few things that you need to know when joining a group exercise class and share helpful tips that can possibly help to prevent injury and have a successful workout.
"Each week I stand in front of approximately 200-300 people and lead them in group strength, cardio and/or core training. I love what I do and i take it very seriously in order to help my participants enjoy their workouts. My time is their time, so I have to make sure the music, moves and instruction is clear, quick and effective. For the participants, it’s their responsibility to listen for correct body alignment, cueing and proper movement for each exercise. It’s a relationship that goes hand-in-hand and can be very effective to reach your fitness goals."
Some of the most common injuries participants experience are musculoskeletal imbalances and movement dysfunctions due to lifestyle, work, stress and/or occupation. When you couple that with taking a group fitness class, you are at a higher risk for injury.
Here are a few things to consider when taking a group exercise class. As an instructor, we all want you to have fun and enjoy the class but also be safe!
When choosing an exercise class make sure it motivates you, the instructor enjoys what they are doing and you can understand all the cues for each exercise. If you are lucky enough to find all of this in one class, keep going! If you love it and it is changing your life by changing your body. . .don't stop!
If an exercise seems to be too complex, do not do it or look for the modifications. Don’t try and be a superhero or think that someone will judge you. If you can not do the move properly, do not do it and ask the instructor after class how to do the move correctly.
Unless your group exercise class has a warm up and cool down built into the workout, make sure you actively stretch before each workout and statically stretch after. The most important areas to stretch, flex and extend are your ankles, knees, hips and neck. These are the areas of your body that tend to be in a static position throughout the day. Make sure you move those joints and stretch the muscles that support each area.
This may be a no brainer for most but you would be surprised. Make sure you wear comfortable training shoes and apparel. In order to move freely in class, you need clothes that will move with you and shoes that are flexible for jumping, bending, twisting and pushing weight.
If you are brand new to the class, do what you can and at your own pace. Many times, you see a class that you can not WAIT to try and that’s great! But I highly suggest when you start, do part of the class, come back the following week or a couple of days later and do more. It’s the best way to set yourself up for success and get results.
Do not give up over a little soreness. More than likely, when you take on a new class, the next day...you HATE your instructor. LOL! You just moved your body in ways that you don't normally move them everyday. This is DOMS "Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness" and it last for about 24-72 hours. You have to keep moving and work through the soreness in order for the class to be successful. If you do become injured do not continue and see your doctor.
Meet with a Personal Trainer and get an assessment. This is not mandatory but it would be great to get some one on one insight on how you can align your body and make sure each move that is shared in class is done correctly. You can let your PT know that you want to take a particular class and you need their help to prepare you for it.
Talk to your instructor. Don't be afraid to approach your instructor after class with questions that you may have when it comes to proper movement, why you do particular exercises and if the class is right for you. Instructors love questions because we love helping you get into shape.
HAVE FUN! Working out should not be a chore. Make sure you are having fun while you sweat OR see how you feel after the workout. If you are tired, sweaty and feel like a Super Hero. . .you will be back!
I hope these tips help. If you are having a hard time getting into shape because doing it alone can get frustrating find a group exercise class that will satisfy your needs. Whether you need more cardio or strength training, there is something out there for you.
When you find that perfect strength class, I suggest taking this class 2-3 times a week to tone and reshape your body. Cardio classes can be taken daily but I highly suggest swapping cardio classes with strength classes. Check out the example below, find some classes that will work for you and your crew and get moving!