Facing the Fitness Class: Tips to Get Started


FitnessJanuary has come and gone, and so have everyone’s New Year’s resolutions. But if it has been your goal to exercise, I will tell you a secret: Now is a great time to start.

Why Exercise Now? 

Well, first of all, anytime is a great time to start. So the month really does not matter, just your resolve to get started. But the real secret is that by the end of February, most of those folks who started their epic, triathlon plans in January have faded away, leaving space open at your local gym.

More research is being reported every day about how being active and exercising helps you from head to toe – mental health, heart health, bone health, brain health. Want to reduce your risk of cancer, diabetes, dementia, stroke, depression? Exercise.

Some people love to run or do the circuit in the fitness center, but I love a good exercise class. Yoga, body pump, ultra-conditioning, kickboxing, cycling – I love the comradery and need someone to tell me what to do to get stronger. Fitness classes are the bomb.

Today – whatever day this is – is the best day to start. Want some newbie tips for attending a fitness class? I’ve returned to exercise many times after extended breaks due to injury, illness, a crazy schedule or life happening.

What I Have Learned:

  1. Know your reason. Mine is because I want to stay strong. Yours might be different. But keep reminding yourself. It matters.
  2. Have your clothes/bag ready the night before – no matter what time you plan to exercise. Have your gym ID and water bottle ready too. Check the gym schedule to pick which class you are going to go to. Eliminate as many barriers as possible ahead of time!
  3.  Do your best to be there at least 5 minutes early. (If you are taking kids to the gym childcare, you probably want to arrive 20-30 minutes early, because…kids.) I know, I know, it gives you more time to be anxious. But hear me out – you want to give yourself enough time to find a spot, set up equipment, top off your water bottle. If you show up late, you get totally points for showing up, but it is usually considered bad manners… so just be early. It’s better.
  4. Introduce yourself to the instructor. They love to know that you are new, and can give you any tips you need to know about their class.
  5. Worry about form, not fitness (just yet.) You don’t have to go all out and get sweaty – use light weights, go slower if you need to, and take out the bounce. Just get used to how the class runs for now. Someone is always going to be stronger than you, no matter how long you have been working out, so don’t worry about it.
  6. No one is looking at you. Really. Everyone has been new to this class at some point, and all of the regulars had to work up to whatever level of fitness they are now at, so relax. Really.

This is a Marathon, Not a Sprint

If you can just keep showing up, that is how you get stronger. It takes time, so be patient with yourself. Give yourself credit for making a change, showing up and just trying. If you miss a workout (or two), don’t freak out. Go next time. Life happens, so just go back when you can. And focus on the showing up, again and again, for yourself.

That is what really matters.