Getting Into Group Fitness — It’s Okay to Be Scared

Group fitness is a beautiful thing. It can build friendships, drive us to do our best, hold us accountable to a regimen, increase our sense of community and allow us to grow in ways we never realized possible. It has the power to impact our lives outside of the gym as well—improving our ability to interact with new/different people, accepting challenging tasks, and meeting folks we’d otherwise never be exposed to. There are so many positives about group fitness…but let’s be honest; it can also be terrifying.

Going from a solo approach to the gym to a group fitness model is jarring. It’s like the first day at a new school—without headphones or hiding places. New people, an instructor, lots of new movements, the desire to do everything perfectly and the fear that you’ll do everything wrong or not as well as everyone around you. It’s a lot of emotional management, all the while trying to remember why we are there to begin with:

To be healthier, move better, get stronger, stay fit and be happy among other things.

In my experience, there are a few tips that can help ease you into this new world of group fitness…

1. Introduce yourself to the instructor

Let them know who you are, that you’re new, and explain any injuries or concerns you may have. They will appreciate the heads up, and know to keep an extra special eye on you as you start your journey. And you’ve made a new friend!

2. Introduce yourself to others, especially those that are by themselves

Chances are they are also new, and just as nervous as you. You’ll both find relief in your introduction and then have a teammate to work with through the workout.

3. Go to group fitness classes on partner workout days

This is a great opportunity to make a new pal and get to know your fellow athletes. You’ll find a lot of common ground through team workouts, so I highly recommend these for all athletes—new and experienced.

4. Ask questions

If something doesn’t make sense, or even after explaining it you’re still a little foggy—ask your instructor and fellow athletes. The community aspect of fitness has forged a shared learning environment like no other. Athletes are eager to share the knowledge that was once shared with them to see fellow athletes move well and with confidence.

5. Last but not least, have fun

We’re all in this together and the group atmosphere certainly can help you stay motivated, but fun is where it’s at. For some of us, that means wearing a kitty cat tank (me) and being an absolute goofball during rest periods (also me). Some people like funky colored socks, or facing partners during workouts. Whatever your fun is, use it. Fitness is meant to be fun.

Remember, everyone from the welcome staff to the instructor is there to help you get into this new thing called group fitness. We are a community, and this community now includes you. You’ll pass your learned knowledge on to a new member someday, same as it was passed on to you.

Matthew LeBaron is the Running Endurance coach at Brick New York, where he also coaches their Strength & Conditioning (BFIT) and HIIT class (BX). When he isn't coaching, you can find him taking class and hamming it up with the members. He's an avid soccer player with the New York Ramblers, and a devoted art nerd. Follow his shenanigans on Instagram.