Sunday, November 13, 2011

How to Prepare for a First Aerobics Class – Group Exercise Basics

Tips for Starting an Exercise Routine - Photo by Damien Horvath, U.S. Navy on Wikimedia Commons
Taking a first aerobics class can be a bit intimidating for many people. Actually, aerobics classes are now called group exercise classes in many areas. A few years from now, they may be called something else again. Knowing what to expect and how to prevent injury can help that first class to be a great experience.

Before starting any exercise routine, it is important to check with a healthcare professional regarding any special needs that you may have. Certain health conditions may require modified positions, and a doctor may give specific recommendations for safe types of exercise that account for one's physical abilities.

What to Wear and Bring to an Exercise Class – Photo by Johansen Laurel, U.S. Navy at Wikimedia Commons.
Clothes & Equipment for Starting an Exercise Class

Clothing for group exercise classes may vary somewhat depending on the type of class you wish to take. A comfortable pair of athletic shoes is particularly helpful for any group exercise class unless you wish to remove shoes for a mind/body class such as yoga or Pilates. Ensure that the clothing will not restrict movement and will not fall off or slide down. A supportive bra can be quite helpful if you are taking a cardio class, and padded pants can provide added comfort in a cycle class.

Many classes do not require special equipment. The facility may provide equipment such as yoga mats, free weights, stability balls, resistance bands, or other items used during some classes. It is a good idea to bring a water bottle to class. Some people wear ear plugs in group exercise class if they have sensitive ears or feel that the music volume is too loud for their taste.

How to Choose an Exercise Class ©Katrena
How to Pick an Aerobics Class

Before taking a group exercise class most folks look at the schedule and select a class; however, I will admit that I had no intentions of taking a group exercise class when I first began. I assumed that the gym charged for those classes and had not even considered taking the class until a lady almost literally pulled me from the hallway and into the classroom. I'm glad she did...I liked it enough to stick with it and eventually became an instructor.

If you are selecting a class, look at the times and descriptions. You may wish to start with a class geared toward beginners or one that is shorter, such as 30 minutes. Many classes do not have specific levels such as beginners, intermediate, and advanced. Instructors often gear the class to the needs of the students and offer a variety of levels so that all participants can get their desired workout that serves to be comfortably challenging to them.

Some printed class descriptions leave a lot to be desired. If you want more specific information about a class, you might want to check several sources. The front desk staff may have general information about many of the classes, and the group exercise director at the facility may also provide more specific information. Other participants are often provide excellent tips and may be able to offer suggestions and give the "inside scoop" about instructors and what to expect with any given class they have taken.

Tips for Taking a Group Exercise Class

After deciding on that first group exercise class, it helps to arrive a few minutes early. You may wish to introduce yourself to the instructor and let him or her know that this is your first class. Ask how to use any equipment with which you are unfamiliar and where you should place items such as free weights. It may be tempting to position yourself in the back corner of the classroom, but you may find it easier to follow the instructor if you are closer to the center. It also helps if you can see yourself in the mirror if the room is equipped with them.

During the class, listen to your body. You may be tempted to work at higher levels simply because the instructor is demonstrating those levels, but safety is the most important issue in a class. The moves should be comfortably challenging. It is probably wise to choose weights that are lower and moves that are easier than you think you may be able to perform during that first group exercise class.

You should be able to talk in short sentences and should not feel sharp pains, but you might feel stretching sensations. Drink water during regular intervals and modify any steps as needed to fit your own physical limitations or needs. If you need to stop, walk around for a few minutes to allow your body to cool off gradually if possible. Most classes start with a warm-up and end with a cool-down.

Tips for Finding the Best Aerobics Class to Fit Your Needs – Photo by Brittany Carlson, U.S. Army from Wikimedia Commons.
How to Evaluate a Group X Class

After class, evaluate how you feel. Many people feel as if they have two left feet in their first group exercise class, but many moves are repeated. After learning a few basic steps and positions and getting the feel for each instructor's teaching style, participants often feel more comfortable with the steps and can enjoy the class more because they don't have to concentrate on how to do each move. Some classes will have the exact same choreography for several months before changing to a new routine while other instructors may offer a variety of different moves each class.

Group exercise can be a fun way to work out with others, and a wide variety of class types are available at many sites. Class participants may develop friendships and encourage one another. perhaps becoming accountability partners for one another. Instructors often notice progress and miss regular participants when they are out. Many people work harder when they are around others and look forward to regular group exercise routines each week.

Readers may also wish to learn more about the Pros and Cons of Group Exercise.

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