5 Tips for Starting A New Workout Class

Okay, I'm here. Now what?

Okay, I'm here. Now what?

I tend to be a little anxious. I say this because I am an expert at building things up in my head and worrying about them for weeks, only to discover that I had nothing to worry about. 

I’ve lived through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.
— Mark Twain

Not to say that worrying isn't totally normal and useful, but it can keep me from doing things that I really want to do. For me, some of those things lately have involved going to exercise classes at the gym. I love attending them because I feel like I get a great workout, but the part where I have to actually go see other people tends to leave me feeling a little frazzled (which is not what you want before a relaxing yoga class). So here are some of my tips for making attending a new exercise class a little less stressful.

1. Introduce yourself

No, not to everyone. Just to the instructor. If you have an instructor who is on the ball and organized, they will probably come introduce themselves to you. It's fine to wait for this to happen. If they don't notice you or generally don't seem to be heading over, go ahead and say hi. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, it's just plain nice. Second, it's an opportunity to let them know where you are. Have you ever done this activity before? Do you have any injuries or medical conditions that they should know about? Is there anything about the class that you should know? 

2. Look stupid

Some time in the not too distant future you are going to be the one all the new people are watching with awe. Today is probably not going to be that day. You will be in awkward positions trying to watch the instructor while also doing the move. They will give directions that include words you've never heard before. Your body is definitely not getting into that positions. It's okay. I'm going to say that one more time. It's okay. It's all part of the process. Every person in the room looked like that at some point. Give yourself permission to laugh and move on. 

3. Really go for it

When you feel like you are doing it all wrong, it can be easy to look at something and decide you can't. Sure, you know your body better than anyone and if you say you can't do something, then maybe you are right. But maybe you are actually scared that failing at it will look worse than not trying at all. Give it go. Try lifting those weights a few times. Work into that twist that you can only hold for a second. Stretch forward over your toes and then despair about how far away your hands on. You'll have more fun and get a better workout. 

4. Watch other people

While you are trying your best, don't be afraid to watch someone the first time. Maybe even a few people. Almost all exercises have modifications. If something is too hard, think about how you could do it another way. Look at the other people in class and see if they've already figured it out. If you get stuck, give the class instructor a wave and see if they can help you figure something out. Once you know what you are doing, it will be easier to do the exercise without worry. 

5. Go back

I know. This doesn't really count, but it's important. The first class is always stressful and full of new things. The second time is better. Not everything will be foreign. You'll know which equipment to pull out of the closet. The extra relaxation will help you get a good workout and focus your mind. I believe it takes three times before you can be sure if a class is right for you. Give it a little time, and you might be surprised.