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Everything to Know Before Trying Group Fitness Classes

People do planks in a group fitness class.

Joining a jump fitness class can be daunting if you’ve never been. You might not know what to bring with you, which class to choose, or, well, what exactly to expect. While that might deter some from ever doing group fitness, it shouldn’t.

Whatever your reasons for being nervous, this guide to fitness classes will walk you through everything you need to know to have the best experience possible before, during, and after your first class.

Research Classes

Before stepping into a workout class for the first time, it’s important to do your research! Determine what your goals are and what your body needs to reach those goals.

If your goal is to lose weight and tone your body, a class that combines cardio and weight training might be the perfect match for you. If you are returning from an injury and are looking for a supportive setting to focus on rehabilitation and slowly gaining strength, we highly recommend mat or reformer pilates in a small group setting. For those looking for something that combines mental health and wellness with movement, yoga is a great option.

Ultimately, the most important thing is to find a class that looks interesting and fun and that offers a class that matches your experience level.

Find Out What You’ll Need

A woman with headphones works out

Once you’ve chosen a class, you’ll want to start preparing. Class accessories and gym bag items will depend on which class you choose! But of course, there are some basics that work for all classes.

For women, form-fitting pants or bottoms and your favorite athleisure top should be the perfect combination for a variety of workout classes. Plus, form-fitting bottoms are especially important for Barre and Pilates. Pilates and barre tend to include a larger range of movement for your legs and pelvis, so you will be happy to have something tighter on.

If, however, you’ve opted for a cardio class that keeps your lower body in one plane of movement, baggier shorts and athletic pants as well as t-shirts also work. There’s a good chance your class probably has its own recommendations so be sure to check the studio or gym’s website.

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Shoes-wise, wearing a set of sneakers with ankle-high socks is a great starting point. Crossfit classes, running studios, and HIIT workout classes will typically recommend your everyday sneaker. Some Pilates and Barre studios, though, require or prefer you to be barefoot, or to wear “sticky socks,” so be prepared for the instructor to ask you to remove your shoes for these classes.

On the other hand, if you’ve opted to take a cycling class, your class probably includes cycling shoes. These are specialty footwear that clips into the pedals of your stationary bike to keep you in place throughout the class. Don’t go out and buy them, though. Nearly all studios include a pair in their class fee. Just wear whatever you’d like but consider something easy to change out of and back into post-class.

Of course, you should be able to hydrate during class. Bring a reusable water bottle filled with water, and if you want, you can also pack a snack in your gym bag for after class.

Prepare for Class

Trainer training woman on an elliptical machine.
NDAB Creativity/Shutterstuck.com

Before you go, look up the directions to the studio and scope out the parking and traffic situation. We recommend arriving a minimum of 10-15 minutes early before your first class to get set up. If you have the time before setting out for your class, maybe take a few moments to stretch and get your body ready for class.

Once you’ve arrived, expect to be greeted by a friendly instructor who wants you to have a great movement experience! As long as you arrive with a few minutes to spare, your instructor will be able to introduce you to the setting of the class to you to make you feel as comfortable as possible.

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Go ahead and pack your bag the night before if you want!

If the class is barre, they will show you the props you’ll use and the place everyone will stand or lay down for mat work. If you’ve opted to take reformer Pilates, the instructor will break down the basics of how to use the reformer so that you feel familiar with how it works. If it’s cycling, your instructor will likely teach you how to use the bike and clip in with your cycle shoes, and for HITT workouts, the instructor will likely show you around the gym or studio and explain how to use the equipment.

What to Do After a Group Fitness Class

After your class is over, you’ll want to rehydrate. If your studio or gym has a refilling station, go ahead and refill that water bottle you brought. Hydrating before, during, and after class is a must. Your body will thank you later.

Outside of hydrating, we recommend eating a good source of protein within 30 minutes of your workout in order to build muscle tone. Getting a good night’s sleep of at least 8 hours will also help ensure that you wake up feeling refreshed by your new workout class, rather than overly drained.

Walking into a group fitness class for the first time can be intimidating but it doesn’t have to be! By doing your research, arriving early, and putting your best foot forward you can create a great first experience and set your fitness schedule up for success.

Jenn Vigh Jenn Vigh
Jenn is a pilates and yoga instructor, an aerialist, and a travel blogger with 5 years of experience in nonprofit communications, and over 10 years of experience writing, teaching, training, performing and collaborating with creatives across the globe. For the last 6 years, her American home-base has been Austin, TX, where she’s worked with the aerial dance company, Blue Lapis Light, and enjoyed the sunshine with her world-traveling yorkipoo, Sheila. Read Full Bio »
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