Group fitness is both a personal and a communal experience with many variables. In a busy world it is often hard to try a variety of classes and find the one that is right for you. As a group fitness coordinator, I get a lot of regular feedback about classes and it got me thinking. It can be difficult to find the perfect combination of time, instructor, and style.
The right time for classes varies for everyone. Frankly, it depends on when you have a minute, let alone an hour. It is always a good idea to look at a facility’s schedule before going. These can often be found online. Take a minute to see when their classes are primarily held and what they offer before deciding to join. Definitely ask about a trial class. This will give you an idea if you click with the instructor and the other people in class.
Finding the right instructor is huge. You may have tried a style before and not liked it. This could have easily been the instructor as much as it is the type of class. Just like all people are different – all instructors have a different approach. Some will push you harder, some are more cautious. Neither one is better; they just are who they are. Decide what you are looking for. Are you looking for external encouragement or a way to get some movement in without going crazy?
Personally, I come to fitness from dancing. I am naturally drawn to classes that work the core, elongate muscles and let me work hard. Generally, I am not crazy about a class with a lot of weights and someone “yelling” through class. Some people come to class having been athletes and are used to a coach mentality and others are new to physical activity and are getting acclimated to having an instructor and figuring out what the cues mean. There is no wrong way to approach a class and not every class is for everyone.
It is important to take the time and find a group that you like. There is no point in going to class if the other people attending or the instructor is going to annoy you. That is why trying different classes in different facilities is important. If you haven’t found something that you enjoy, just keep looking and eventually, you will find a group of people who you can’t wait to see each week.
If you regularly attend a class and see new people, introduce yourself and help them feel comfortable. Answer questions to the best of your ability and let them know if they need any special equipment. By reaching out, you are working to create a community within the class.
I would love to hear positive group fitness experiences or any questions about different style classes 🙂
Everyone misses a day of exercise or eats the extra potato chips, but it’s how we acknowledge the act that makes the difference. Often when people are just getting started on any new venture each misstep seems so much bigger. Making the conscious decision to be kind and understanding to yourself will make the difference. Instead of thinking the entire project is a bust because it wasn’t immediately successful, congratulate yourself on getting started. You can always pick up where you left off.
I often see students in exercise classes get frustrated that they aren’t at the same level as other students and give up. Remember that some people have been coming multiple times a week for months or years. Appreciate the gains that you make with each class or each day. Enjoy the moments of success. Don’t let missing classes or eating something extra get the best of you. Life happens, you can welcome it with a smile or let it stop you. By accepting it and starting over, you will reap the benefits of a healthy lifestyle and not let a speed bump keep you from reaching your goal. If you are in a difficult situation repeat “finding kindness” in your head until the negative thoughts leave. Each time the negativity rears its ugly head, repeat “finding kindness” again. It takes conscious kindness to move you forward.
A few quotes to help keep kindness in your thoughts:
What wisdom can you find that is greater than kindness?
JEAN-JACQUES ROUSSEAU, Emile
Kindness is like snow–it beautifies everything it covers.
CROFT M. PENTZ, The Complete Book of Zingers
Keeping track of what we eat and how much we move is as exciting as tracking our finances and yet it is equally important. As my family began to tighten the financial belt, a friend continued to recommend taking out cash and placing it in envelopes for each of our expenses. I thought this was silly, because I was keeping track as I put groceries on the debit card. Boy, was I wrong!! I began tracking our spending for a month. I kept all of our receipts and couldn’t believe where the money was going. We have used the envelope system for over a year and a half and I can’t believe the results. Food and exercise aren’t any different.
You can’t make a change if you aren’t completely aware of your actions. Begin by writing down when and what you eat. Don’t worry about keeping track of how much you are eating, just what and when. This will give you an idea of what you are craving and when.
The next step is keeping track of when you are moving. Perhaps taking a full lap around the mall or grocery store before or after shopping. Maybe you are doing one of the many great 10-30 minute videos ondemand or on the internet. You might be surprised by how much you are already moving and finding new places that you can squeeze a little extra exercise in.
Our goal: to track what and when we eat as well as when we are finding some exercise for a full week. Next week, I will post about simple ways to change habits without shocking the system. There are ways to have your cake and eat it too, but first we have to find out when you want the cake. The most important part of any change is to look at the positive and not beating ourselves up for the cookie or french fries.
If you have any questions, feel free to post comments as others may have the same question or you can email me at email@example.com
If you have ever taken a Pilates class, you have most likely done the 100s. This is a great exercise that can be done anywhere and has modifications that make it great for beginners or advanced students. All you need is a towel, or yoga mat and a few minutes and you will be on your way.
Lying on your back bring your knees into your chest. I like to take a moment here and rock my knees side to side and maybe make small circles with the knees. When you are ready, extend your legs up at a 90 degree angle and extend your arms long at your side. Take the time to feel your spine fully pressing into the floor. If you are a beginner, stay here. As you exhale lengthen your hands towards the end of your mat lifting your head and shoulders to look at your belly button. Continuing to feel your spine from the low part of your shoulder blades to your tail bone pushing into the mat. Begin pulsing your arms up and down – really feeling the strength coming from your shoulders, not letting the arms flop. Through this exercise begin taking 5 short inhales and 5 short exhales to the count of 100.
If you are advanced, you can lower the legs towards the floor. Continuing to engage the abdominals to support the weight of your legs. A few other variations are to place a ball or magic circle between your ankles through the exercise. You can also hold small weighted balls in each hand as you pulse the arms. Personally, I don’t find either modification necessary, but it does mix up the exercise a bit.
The key with any exercise is to listen to your body. See what feels good and what doesn’t. You always want to feel the exercise, but never pain. As a beginner you can always come in and out of the exercise building the strength to do it correctly. It is key to have a strong foundation and you will continue to have better results through any form of exercise.
- 4 Ways Pilates Makes Everything Better (fitsugar.com)