What Can You Expect When Attending a Group Exercise Class for the First Time

What Can You Expect When Attending a Group Exercise Class for the First Time

According to the Journal of American Osteopathic Association, exercising in a group reduces stress and boosts the emotional, cognitive, and mental quality of life more so than working out alone. While working out with others may not be the most ideal situation for everyone, for some folks, they may be more encouraged to engage in a long-term exercise routine.

Nevertheless, attending a group exercise class, whether it be yoga or cycling, can be both intimidating and exciting at the same time. Apart from getting the opportunity to engage in a certain form of exercise with the right equipment and an instructor to help guide you, a group exercise class also makes for a great place to meet new friends.

But what exactly can you expect from such classes? How do things usually play out? Are there any things you should be worried about prior to attending a group exercise course? Read on to find out.

     1. Not every group exercise class is right for you.

Although you’ll never know if you like something until you try it, the truth is, group fitness classes are not a one-fits-all. You may find that kickboxing isn’t as intriguing as you thought it’d be or that yoga is just too slow and boring for you. You might have difficulty keeping up in step aerobics and prefer something with a lower level of intensity instead.

The point is, everyone has their own interests and abilities. Various types of exercise differ in the types of movements and how quick those movements are made. In some classes, you may be exercising to the beat of the music, whereas in others, you may be primarily listening to the instructor call out instructions.

     2. Just because others like an instructor doesn’t mean you will.

Your friend Debbie just told you about how incredible her pilates instructor is and how everyone else at the gym raves about her. So, you decide to opt for the same instructor. However, there’s just one (big) problem: you don’t like the instructor at all! You find it difficult to keep up with her, she doesn’t give enough instruction, and she’s too picky when it comes to giving you feedback.

While it’s a good idea to give instructors a chance before you call it quits, don’t feel bad for quitting a class and joining another to get a more relevant instructor. At the same time, don’t presume that just because you’ve have one or a few bad instructors that all group exercise instructors will be incompatible with you socially, physically, mentally, and emotionally.

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However, it’s also important to note that just because a majority trash an instructor doesn’t mean you won’t like them. While the majority typically wins, in reality, it’s all about giving an instructor a try to make your own judgments and decide for yourself if another instructor would be more suitable for you personally.

     3. There’s no need to feel pressured to advance at the same pace as everyone else.

In a group workout setting, it’s easy to feel flustered when you’re the one behind in the group. In a group, it’s also not uncommon to feel like you have to compete or match the capabilities of someone else in the group. This is especially true if the course has been going on for quite some time, and you decided to join the class later on as a newbie.

The important thing to keep in mind, however, is that exercise classes aren’t designed to make you feel like you have to out-beat everyone else in the room. After all, you’re part of a group exercise class, not the Olympics. Nobody will be winning the gold! That said, focus on your own personal fitness goals.

     4. People aren’t there to judge you.

One reason some may be fearful of joining a group exercise class is that they feel like others are going to judge them. Maybe they think people will be making fun of their body or laughing at the fact that they aren’t very fit or struggle when working out. As for other folks, they may have a difficult time dealing with criticism and advice from the exercise instructor.

But no good exercise instructor is there to make you feel like a failure, but rather, is there to help you make improvements. Likewise, your classmates didn’t join a group exercise course to stare others down and ridicule or mock the appearances and capabilities of others. A majority of folks’ eyes are either on themselves, on exercise equipment, or on the instructor.

Chances are, some people in the room might be just as embarrassed about exercising around others just as you are.

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     5. Even fit folks may have trouble keeping up sometimes.

Even if you already consider yourself fit and deem yourself a pro when it comes to the type of exercise your group fitness course will be engaging in, don’t expect things to always be breezy-easy. You might find that your endurance is slacking on some days or that your class’s instructor pushes you further and longer than you’re used to.

While you might be surprised to find that you can’t keep up as you thought you would, this can either mean you have the wrong instructor or the wrong course altogether, or it may be a good thing if it means you’re able to stretch your limits by challenging yourself on a fitness level.

     6. Seeing progress takes time.

There are many reasons why exercising with others is beneficial. However, gaining immediate progress is not one of them. While group fitness classes usually occur weekly or multiple times a week, and thus, help essentially “force” participants to engage in exercise more often, having a persistent routine doesn’t bring consistent weight loss, muscle gain, or improved endurance.

In reality, it may not only take weeks or months to notice a difference in your appearance and physical ability to engage in exercise, but one may deal with ups, downs, and plateaus when it comes to shedding the pounds and becoming more fit. However, in a group class, you can certainly benefit from social support, advice, and words of encouragement from others.


Making the decision to attend a group exercise class for the first time is a big move for many. It means forcing themselves into an uncomfortable routine and putting themselves out there, even if they may feel self-conscious or timid. Regardless, there are many benefits a group exercise class can offer, apart from the exercise itself.

However, finding the right group exercise class and the best instructor for you may take time. Nevertheless, it’s important that you don’t presume you’ll witness immediate results or feel pressured by others in the group because, in reality, you should primarily be in the class to improve your own personal “best” when it comes to your fitness goals and aspirations.

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