Looking at a group exercise schedule at a gym can be daunting, especially when there are so many available (first world problems, right?) but with this quick guide, you can choose wisely by judging the class before you take the class, or after!
Before the class:
Watch YouTube videos. In these modern times, we are so lucky to have 24/7 access to videos of cats getting scared with air horns and also videos of every type of exercise you never knew existed. If you don’t know what cardio kickboxing looks like, crawl out from under your rock and see. It’s also a great way to see what moves you might be encountering beforehand so you can practice if you’re so inclined.
Chat with the instructor. Who’s going to know more about the class than the lady or man that will be telling you how do it? Most instructors are happy to talk to first-timers and class fixtures alike about all aspects of the class. They are usually found toward the front of the studio space, looking pretty ripped. If you have any injuries, limitations or concerns, tell them and s/he can make sure to keep an eye out on you and offer any assistance to prevent injuries and to increase your knowledge about their class.
Just try the class! There’s no way to know if you won’t like it unless you try it. Of course, if the motions start to become painful, stop immediately. People won’t judge, and if they do, there is a myriad of reasons you can use to explain why you left. It’s not worth risking an injury to save face. If you do leave the class, be sure to return all of the equipment where you found it, and slide along the back wall to make your quiet escape. Always remember that you can try it again another week!
During the class:
Make sure you aren’t clock watching. If you’re finding that you are glancing at the clock and the hands are seemingly spinning backward, this might not be the class for you. A great class should leave you wondering where the time went.
Confirm that you felt the movements. Most classes are for a general level of fitness so they are accessible to the widest audience, and great instructors will issue a movement, then show a way to intensify a move for those who wish to take it further. There are those classes, though, where you leave wondering why you didn’t feel a thing. Either the fitness level expectations for that class are generally very low (did you wander into a Senior Gentle Cardio class by chance?), or the instructor wasn’t very good at making sure the participants were doing the moves correctly so that they all got the benefit of going through the motions.
Evaluate the instructor. Did you like him/her? It’s just like school where if you don’t like the teacher for whatever reason, you probably won’t be fond of the class. If it’s a solvable problem, such as not being able to hear her over the music, let her know so that the audio levels can be adjusted. Chances are, you’re not the only one with that concern. If the instructor’s personality just rubs you the wrong way, call it a day and start over with another class.
There are tons of group classes available, and with a little research and effort to check them out, you’ll find the one that suits you best!