Before you begin reading this post and thinking, geez, this girl must hate her job, I should probably clarify a few things. I love being a fitness instructor. Teaching people how to move well, coaching them through workouts and helping them achieve their goals is what gets me out of bed at 4:30 in the morning, and what keeps me at work late at night, only to do it again the next day. I wouldn’t choose this lifestyle if I didn’t love my job. Nothing makes me happier than watching something suddenly “click” in an athlete’s brain, or having someone tell me that coming to class has literally changed his or her life.
Group fitness is a rapidly expanding industry and there are many people, especially in New York City, who no longer have gym memberships, but instead get their fitness on through classes at boutique studios 4-5 days a week. I think it’s great for several reasons. The most obvious being that when you’ve signed up and payed for a class, it’s hard to justify not showing up. Additionally, when you’re in a group setting, you tend to push yourself harder because you see others around you pushing themselves. Adding to that, there is an instructor telling you what to do and correcting your form, and while it’s not the same as having a personal trainer, it’s a much more affordable option. Finally, group fitness builds community, particularly for those who frequent the same studio on the same days/times each week. There is nothing better than having a class full of “regulars” who work hard and push each other. It motivates me to do well at my job.
However, when you’re working out with other people, it’s important to remember that you’re not the only one in the room. There are certain things to consider when working out in a group setting. Some of these may seem like pure common sense, but you’d be surprised at what we witness on a daily basis.
- Be on time. Especially if it’s your first class. Your instructors want to have a chance to learn your name, injuries and anything else you may need them to know. Even if you’re a regular, don’t be that person running in late and risk getting slapped in the face by a classmate doing jumping jacks when you’re trying to get to your spot.
- Tell your instructor if you have any injuries. Do this before class starts, rather than forcing them to modify for you on the spot. It takes away from the rest of the class when your instructor has to follow you around, basically creating an entire new workout for you. That’s called personal training. We are happy to modify for you, just give us a heads up! And, if something has been nagging you for a while and and is not getting better, get it checked out. It may be somethig that needs to be addressed before a more serious injury occurs.
- Have spacial awareness. Stay in your own spot. There is room for everyone. No one wants a kick in the head when you’re going down for a burpee.
- Pay attention. Just because you’ve come to a class so that you can be told what to do does not mean you can turn off your brain. When the instructor has to repeat things over and over again because you were zoning out or talking to your friend during a demonstration, it slows down the entire class unnecessarily.
- Don’t interrupt your instructor. There will be a time and place for questions, but interrupting your instructor during a demo or while they are explaining the workout is just rude. Wait until they are done explaining, and if you have questions, then you may ask.
- Trust your instructor. I would never tell someone to pick up a weight that I didn’t think they could handle. If you’re new to class, we might encourage your to use lighter weights because we don’t know your capabilities yet, but we typically know what weights our clients can handle with good form, and when they’re ready to progress to the next level. Each workout has been designed with a specific stimulus in mind, and we recommend the weight that will give you the best workout depending on your strength and skill level.
- Be patient. Sometimes people get antsy in class because they think they need to move continuously for an entire hour to get an effective workout. Let your instructor demo the movements and explain the workout. Please please please do not jog in place or do jumping jacks in the corner. It’s basically equivalent to interrupting the instructor as it’s distracting to everyone.
- Move with integrity. If you have “tight hips” or “bad knees” find out why. Talk to your instructor, or a trainer, or a PT. Good mobility is key to functional training. You’re more likely to avoid injury, get a better workout, and function better in life if you are able to move well.
- Clean up after yourself. Put your weights away in the appropriate places. And nicely. No one wants to have a dumbbell fall on their foot because you threw it onto the shelf haphazardly.
- Stop whining. It’s not cute, and it definitely won’t get you special attention, at least not from me. If your instructor or coach tells you to do something, suck it up and do it!
- Stop cheating. As the saying goes, “you’re only cheating yourself.” If we say squat all the way down, squat all the way down. If we say do 50 burpees, do 50 burpees. If you are struggling, we will modify for you.
- Don’t worry about what other people are doing. If you know someone is not moving well or is cheating their reps, just continue with your workout and don’t worry about them. Leave that up to the instructor and know that you’re the one who is going to get better results.
- Do the workout that the class is doing. Obviously if you have an injury, it’s ok to modify. But don’t come to class and do an entirely different workout that you made up for yourself, just because you feel like it. That is what gym memberships are for. It confuses other people in the class and is also disrespectful to the instructors who wrote the workout.
- Wipe up your sweat. We know it gets hot and people get sweaty. But use your towel to wipe up your spot, especially if you are in a circuit and someone else is right behind you. No one wants to bathe in your sweat.
- Don’t take yourself too seriously. Lighten up. Laugh at your instructor’s dumb jokes. We are trying! You can have fun and work hard at the same time.