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Getting Past The Fear of Group Fitness

We all have those friends that we simply cannot convince to come with us to class. Whether it is their schedule, or they are not feeling well, it typically boils down to some small insecurity that just needs to be brought out and squashed. So if you are one of these people, or know someone like them, let me help you consider a few things before you write off group fitness completely.

I Sweat way too much

I never really understood this excuse, but then again, I have always been a stinky gross athlete with about zero filter. Sweat is supposed to happen. I have a friend who doesn’t sweat because she has some sort of science going on with her glands. Trust me, that is a much bigger problem than the scale model of Lake Norman that you are making on your yoga mat. No one, literally no one. is judging how much you sweat.

Most studios these days have small sweat towels for your to use during class for free. If it’s your first time and you are still worried about it, either call ahead or bring your own towel. In many spin classes I will use two. I have a special washable mat for hot yoga just to suck up the sweat.

Think of it this way. You’re not embarrassed of the blood that a nurse draws from your arm. It’s the nurse’s job to take it. Don’t be embarrassed of the sweat that a class draws from your skin. It’s the instructor’s job to make it come out.  Here is an actual picture of what I do the floor when I spin for 45 minutes (I didn’t spill any water)

I don’t know what I’m doing

That is a good reason to not do anything. Forgive my sarcasm. IT’S A HORRIBLE REASON. Nobody knew what they were doing the first time they did it. It is going to take some time. Hate to break it to you – but with seven billion people in the world, you are probably never going to ACTUALLY be the best at it.

THIS is actually one of the biggest reasons for me starting Sweat and Sweets. Just watch me “dance” in a zumba class or manage to faceplant in yoga. Nobody looks as good doing it as they do in the pictures. That is not reality. Fitness is not a club for experts, it is a lifestyle for people looking to develop. You cannot develop by doing only what you know. And you cannot work out worrying how you look. I don’t.

The great news for you is that is what the instructors get paid for. Their job is to teach you and guide you to have a safe and functional workout. I have not been to a single class where an instructor has done anything less than be mindful of everyone’s INDIVIDUAL athleticism and skill level. They will not deride you for needing a break, missing a move, or using less resistance.

So if you are really still worried about not knowing what you’re doing…and that is really going to stop you from going to a class… go on YouTube and search the class or class style. If your significant other wants you to come to a barre class, go watch one on YouTube. It will become a lot less intimidating.

People are going to judge me

Judgment happens all day every day. If you go to McDonald’s, you are probably being judged. If you drive a car, you are definitely being judged. If you wear a white dress after labor day, you are being judged. If you commit a crime and are on trial..you are being juried. I don’t really know a better way to say it besides, everyone is judging everyone else for every tiny little detail, and there is really nothing to do and no reason to care about it.

That being said, Fitness classes are perhaps some of the most judgement free places I have ever been. Just try it. There are often people on every end of the fitness spectrum in the class – from the athletes in sports bras to those looking to lose serious amounts of weight to grandmas and grandpas. If you are uncomfortable where you are on the fitness spectrum, just know others will admire you for showing up. This might not make a ton of sense right away, but the more out of shape you are, the more it may mean to the others in the class that you simply showed up. Don’t take this as congratulations or some sort of consolation prize. When you show up to class, you are inspiring everyone around you.

I am not in good enough shape yet

​​There is no such thing as “good enough shape” Unless you are a cat and somehow developed the ability to use the computer and read, you are in the shape of a human being and that is simply good enough. It is actually amazing. But seriously, we don’t go to group fitness because we are in our “final form” in terms of shape. We go because we want to develop. Whether it’s improving our heart health or removing some extra cushion, we’re all there for the same reason to improve. Accept where you are right now. Embrace who you are. Don’t try to change, try to improve. Remember that group fitness is not a competition. Although you may feel like competing at times, everyone is there to improve themselves. Everyone is at a different spot in their life. That is the beauty of group fitness. It is a different class for everybody in it.

If you don’t believe me, let me throw some simple math at you. A 120 pound person will burn approximately 60 calories walking one mile. A 200 pound person of the same gender will burn more than DOUBLE those calories, approximately 130 in total for walking the same distance.  I will never focus on calorie as a macro goal, but it is simply science. Comparing yourself to anybody else for whatever reason is simply not worth the thought. Showing up is all that matters. I guarantee the second time you show up, you will already have improved.

Group fitness is for women

​​You’re right if you mean more women go to group fitness classes in general than men. But group fitness is not gender exclusive (except for those classes that say women only). The people making this excuse may have some hidden insecurities. I can science you all day long on the benefits on nearly every group fitness class, but that would be an article in itself. The conclusion is that every class is going to help you improve, whether it is strength, conditioning, cardio, balance, posture, mindfulness, happiness, coordination, or rhythm. You are going to improve yourself by going.

For every article or gossip column in a men’s fitness magazine that you want to send me saying that group fitness is bad for you, I can show you ten more saying the exact opposite. Finding what fits for you and your goals is important. I have not found a group class that is ONLY focused on getting swoll, but aside from that, I promise you there is a group class that can supplement your existing regimen perfectly.

I’m too old for that

I tell myself this whenever I don’t want to do anything also. Consider staying awake past 10:00PM? “I’m too old for that”. Thinking about going out to eat twice in one day? “I’m too old for that”. So naturally, the older people get, the more frequent this excuse is going to come out. I am only in my 20s, so I don’t have a lot of experience on this topic. But what I do have are eyeballs.

When I finished my first marathon, I finished BEHIND a man who was in his 70s. When I hiked to the top of Machu Picchu in Peru, the porter ran 75 pounds of gear on his back up the same trail I struggled to hike, He was in his 60s.  Group fitness isn’t asking you to run 26 miles or hike to an elevation of 8,000 feet. Unless your doctor says you should not be doing it, I will be sitting, standing, and cheering over here telling you that you SHOULD be doing it. You are young enough. Come work out with me.