By Matt LeBaron
Group fitness is a beautiful thing. It can build friendships, drive us to do our best, hold us accountable to a regimen, increase our sense of community, and allow us to grow in ways we never realized possible.
It has the power to impact our lives outside of the gym as well. Improve our ability to interact with new/different people, accept challenging tasks, and meet folks we’d otherwise never be exposed to.
There are so many positives about group fitness…but let’s be honest; it can also be terrifying.
Going from a solo approach to the gym to a group fitness model is jarring. It’s like the first day at a new school. Add to that there are no mirrors, headphones, or hiding places.
New people, a Coach (hello gym class nightmares), lots of new movements, the desire to do everything perfectly and the fear that you’ll do everything wrong or not as well as everyone around you. It’s a lot of emotional management, all the while trying to remember why we are here to begin with.
To be healthier, move better, get stronger, stay fit, and be happy among other things.
In my experience, there are a few tips that can help ease you into this new world of group fitness…
First things first – introduce yourself to the coach. Let them know who you are, that you’ve just joined (if you just finished Academy) and explain any injuries or concerns you may have. The Coach will appreciate the heads up, and know to keep an extra special eye on you as you start your journey. And you’ve made a new friend!
- Introduce yourself to others, especially those that are by themselves. Chances are they are also new, and just as nervous as you. You’ll both find relief in your introduction and then have a teammate to work with through the workout.
- There are many opportunities to partner-up during strength and conditioning pieces, and even warm-ups on weekends when we do team workout. This is a great time to make a new pal and get to know your fellow athletes. You’ll find a lot of common ground through team workouts, so I highly recommend these for all athletes – new and experienced.
- Ask questions. Something doesn’t make sense, or even after explaining it you’re still a little foggy – ask your coach and fellow athletes. The community aspect of fitness has forged a shared learning environment like no other. Athletes are eager to share the knowledge that was once shared with them, and we all want to see our fellow athletes move well and with confidence.
- Last but not least, have fun. We’re all in this together and the group atmosphere certainly can help us stay motivated. But fun is where it’s at. For some of us, that means wearing my kitty cat tank (me) and being an absolute goofball during rest periods (also me). Some people like funky colored socks, or facing partners during workouts. Whatever your fun is, use it. Fitness is meant to be fun.
In closing we are all here to help, coaches, athletes, front desk staff. We are a community, and this community now includes you. You’ll pass your learned knowledge on to a new athlete some day, same as it was passed on to you, and to me.