If you have never been to a group exercise class before, below is some information you might find helpful before you go.

What to wear

The days of Lycra and legwarmers are long gone so you can relax!  Here are a few tips on what to wear:

Trainers

There are so many styles and designs of trainers out there that you’ll be spoilt for choice.  There are some things you should look for in your new pair though;

  • Make sure they give you plenty of support, especially around the ankle
  • Ensure they aren’t too tight or restrictive when moving
  • Look for a sole that is cushioned to protect your feet from the impact of exercise.

Wearing socks under your trainers will prevent your trainers rubbing on your feet as they get a bit sweaty.  Remember, you are going to get hot, so you don’t want to wear socks that are too thick…unless you like hot feet!

If you are doing yoga or Pilates, many participants prefer to do this bare foot or in socks as it helps them to stretch and move between positions more easily.

Bottoms

Generally speaking, wear whatever you are most comfortable in, however jeans are not suitable. If you are doing a yoga or Pilates class, make sure your bottoms have plenty of stretch and don’t restrict your movement.

You also don’t want to wear anything with a tight waistband that is likely to dig in.

If you are taking part in an indoor cycling class, it is advisable not to wear bottoms that are too baggy as they might get in the way of the bike parts.  Shorts, leggings or slim jogging bottoms would be advisable.

Tops

As with your bottoms, comfort is key.  You can wear a sports vest, long sleeve t-shirt, short sleeved t-shirt or tank top.  You may want to wear a hoody or sweatshirt to and from the class to keep warm, but you will probably want to take this off during the class.

Wear something that is going to keep you cool and comfortable during your class.  Cotton is a good material but avoid polyester fabrics that don’t allow your skin to breathe.

You may also want to choose a slightly longer top you can either tuck in or that won’t ride up too much when you move during your workout.

For women, it is important to wear a bra that gives you plenty of support.  You are going to be stretching and moving about a lot so you may want to invest in a good sports bra.

Additional things you may need

Towel

When you work out you are going to sweat. Sweat is good!  It is your body’s way of cooling down and is a sign that you are working hard and benefiting from your exercise class. Be proud to sweat and don’t be embarrassed; it’s what you are paying your money for.

Taking a sports towel or hand towel along with you to your class is a good idea. This is so you can towel off your sweat as you work out and also wipe down your mat or any equipment when you finish.

You may need an additional towel for a shower after your class if there are facilities.  Check in advance whether the venue provides towels and shower gel.  Some do, and some don’t so give them a call and bring along your own supplies if needed.

Water

It is really important to stay hydrated when you are exercising so make sure you bring a bottle of water with you. Staying hydrated will help to give you more energy and will replace any fluids you loose during your workout.

Avoid fizzy or concentrated drinks immediately before your class.  Some venues will provide water stations but if you are attending a class in the community this is unlikely.

Before going in to a group exercise class

If you are attending a class for the first time and are feeling nervous or anxious, get in contact with the instructor and discuss how you feel.  If you are attending a class in the community, call the instructor and arrange to meet before the class so you can ask questions and make them aware that it is your first time.  If you are attending a class at a gym or leisure centre, contact reception and ask them to arrange a time for you to meet with the instructor in advance.  Instructors are there to support you and will be happy to put your mind at ease and talk you through their class, so you know what to expect.

It is especially important to speak to the instructor prior to attending the class if you have any medical conditions or previous injuries they need to be aware of.   You should seek advice from your doctor before undertaking and form of exercise if you are in any doubt about your health.

Before embarking on a new fitness regime, always consult your doctor. 

Always inform your instructor of any medical conditions or changes to your health before taking part in any class.

If you feel unwell, stop immediately and tell your instructor.

The exercise class

A group exercise class will typically be between 40-60 minutes depending on the type and style of class you attend.

There will be a series of gentle exercises at the start and end of the class to help warm up and relax your muscles.  This helps to prevent injury.  Your instructor will tell you when the main section of the class begins and ends and will give you prompts so you can follow the moves or steps and give guidance on posture or technique to be used.

Throughout the class, work to your own abilities. If at any stage you are struggling to keep up, don’t be afraid to take a breather.  The instructor will encourage you to have a drink and join in again when you are ready.  Remember, an exercise class is not meant to be easy, but it should be fun so go at your own pace and enjoy the experience.

Post-class

Once you’ve finished the class, take a moment to catch your breath, have a drink and congratulate yourself.  Hopefully you’ve had a positive and enjoyable experience that you will want to repeat but if not, be sure to speak to the instructor immediately afterwards.  If you didn’t enjoy the class, you should be honest about your experience so the instructor can advise you on another type of class that might be more suitable or address the issues you have so you can enjoy it the next time.

Image credit: Stockio.com