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Confidence-boosting tips for fitness class first-timers

(BPT) – You’ve joined a health club and now you’re curious about fitness classes. You’re almost ready to sign up for an indoor cycle, yoga or strength-training class, but something stops you. You feel nervous and uncomfortable and decide to wait.

Group fitness classes are a fantastic way to exercise because you’re guided by an expert, plus the energy of the group keeps you motivated. However, because it’s something new that puts people outside their comfort zone, it’s common to feel apprehensive in the beginning.

To help you gain confidence to try any type of group exercise class, consider these tips from three health club members.

Comfort over style. “Trust me, no one cares what you’re wearing,’ says Deb Kampe, a member at Life Time, which operates 122 destinations across the United States and in Canada. ‘If you want to wear gym shorts and a T-shirt, do it. Head-to-toe athleisure? Do it. A tutu? Do it. Just make sure you’re comfortable and safe. Don’t spend a fortune on the latest fitness clothing trends or labels. Expensive does not equal better.’

Don’t be self-conscious. ‘It’s easy to assume everyone in class is fit, knows all the moves and is judging you. No one cares,’ Kampe says. ‘Once the music starts and the instructor begins, all eyes are up front taking direction and being lifted into the moment.’

Everyone was a newbie. ‘Everyone was a first-timer at some point, so they know how it feels,’ says Dustin Meriwether, member at Life Time. ‘They’re not going to judge you for it, and many – hopefully all – will be willing to answer any questions and help in any other way.”

Instructors want to assist. ‘All instructors – and other members – want to help you,’ says Kelby Mezzenga, member at Life Time. ‘So just walk in and let the instructor know you are new or have a question. That welcoming feeling takes the edge off and chances are, you’ll have met a new friend.’

Keep an open mind. ‘Group fitness classes are designed to challenge you and take you out of your comfort zone. You may be unfamiliar with the equipment you’ll use or how hard it might be, but I guarantee you will feel the burn,’ Mezzenga says.

Listen to your body. ‘You know your body best,’ says Meriwether. ‘If something doesn’t feel right or if you know you have problems with something, modify the workout correspondingly. People do that all the time and many instructors are good about suggesting such modifications.’

Give it 100 percent. ‘You get out what you put in,’ Meriwether says. ‘If you put in minimal effort, you can expect minimal results. But if you give it your all, you can expect some pretty fantastic fitness changes.’

Bring water. Hydration is important, but you don’t need to worry about anything else. ‘Life Time has everything you’ll need for any class, from yoga mats to towels,’ says Mezzenga.

Celebrate victories ‘During the cool-down and stretching segment of class, take a moment to celebrate your victory,’ says Kampe. ‘Look around, everyone no matter what their age and ability will beseriously sweaty, all there with you sharing the same endorphins. Take that feeling with you and own it. Then look at the class schedule and commit to another one.’

For more information about group fitness, visit www.lifetimefitness.com.

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