Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Eleven Things I've Learnt Doing Exercise Classes


I was an exercise class virgin until January this year. Exercise with lots of people? In a room with a big mirror? Hell on Earth. But then I got ill and had to do exercise to help me improve there's only so much swimming up and down one person can do. Also my mum made me go. 

Here are the things I've learnt during exercise classes and why I am a total convert. 

1. They can be fun - no really, they can. I see you looking sceptically at me, would I lie to you? I do aqua Zumba and it is SO much fun. I really enjoy it. Dancing, in water! Fun!

2. You can wear whatever the hell you like - you don't need expensive special outfits. I wear an old pair of thick Topshop leggings, a Game of Thrones t-shirt and a cropped stripy jumper with a dinosaur on it. Really. There are ladies who rock t-shirts with glittery things on them. Just wear whatever you have that you can move in and feel comfortable in.

3. Swim bras are a thing that exists - I KNOW. A BRA THAT YOU WEAR IN THE POOL. WHAT. Seriously, a lady in my aqua Zumba class wears one under her cossie, so if you're put off water-based exercise classes on the basis of the fear of your boobies dislodging, fear no more. 

4. People can be SUPER territorial when it comes to work out space - whether this is in a room or the pool, people have their strategy DOWN. We had one passive-aggressive lady tell us her 'spot' was "where you stood last week".  It CAN be intimidating, and there are 2 strategies for dealing: 1) Decide not to give a fuck, they're not entitled to anything, it's a public class and if you got there first it's your fucking space and they can just suck it. Or, if you're less sure: 2) Wait till everyone else has picked their 'spot' and go where's left, but bear in mind this will leave you with the least-desirable real estate. 

5. No one is looking at you - seriously, they aren't. This was a huge fear of mine, but honestly people are too busy focussing on the exercise/looking at themselves to look at you, especially given they're also trying to 'engage their core' at all times. If you're especially worried about this, try a pool-based class. Literally, no one can see you. You're under water. 

6. You get out what you put in - with some classes you can go through the motions and fine, but you won't get much out if that in terms of weight loss/muscle tone/increased fitness. You do actually have to put effort in. Engage that core!

7. Choose your first class carefully - if you're not sure of your fitness level or have an injury or health condition, pick something a bit lower impact to start. Your gym should have a brochure or website with info about the classes to help you choose. Though these can be filled with #MarketingSpeak and #Buzzwords, anything that's deemed High Intensity is probs not a good place to start. If you're still not sure, you can usually find videos of the class on YouTube so you can get an idea of what it entails. If all else fails, Pilates will give you a good workout, has level one for beginners and won't leave you panting and sweating. 

8. You can probably do more than you think you can - in a slight contradiction to the above point. The main reason I was so hesitant about trying an exercise class is that I genuinely didn't think I could do it. I have a chronic illness, it's bad. Everything hurts. Even without that, my general level of fitness is not...stellar. I definitely didn't think I had the stamina for 45mins of exercise. But, I managed. We had to build up to them and I feel it for like, 2 days afterwards, plus I have to adapt a bit where things hurt, but if I can do it, you can totally (probably) do it. 

9. Remember to breathe - it'll help. 

10. You do get a much better workout than doing it at home - for one, you're likely to exercise for the full 45 minutes rather than having the 30 minutes of breaks that you might take at home (be honest). Secondly you've paid/are paying a subscription, so you'll actually go and thirdly, the instructor can help you if you're getting it wrong whereas at home you'd just carry on getting it wrong.

11. Don't overdo it - it's Monday, you've done a class. You've got the endorphins, you feel epic. You book another for Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. 2 for Friday cause why the hell not. Live a little! You'll probably regret this half way through Wednesday's Kettle Blast class. Pace yourself, see how you feel. Sometimes you don't feel the effects till the day after. 

So go on, give an exercise class a go. You might even like it.


Do you have any exercise class survival tips?

2 comments:

  1. I know you disagree with me but I love standing at the front! As you said, no one's looking at you. I like when it's just me and the instructor (and whoever I came with). Unless there's a mirror.

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