When you walk into a fitness studio, where are you drawn to? Are you a hang-in-the-back-corner-by-the-equipment person or an off-to-the-side, out-of-the-way person? Do you confidently stake a spot in the middle of the room to lay out your mat? Or do you park yourself front and center, closest to the mirror and within an arm span of the instructor?
How participants self-assign their location in a class can be a fascinating thing to observe: it can often seem quite random, but most people are making a subconscious choice based on where they feel most comfortable. (It’s a little like cafeteria seating evolves in high school, or how folks walk down a hall. Against the wall? Solidly down the center? There’s interesting information about someone based on how they choose to occupy space.)
That said, it can actually be beneficial to plant yourself at the front during a fitness class, whether that’s your naturally comfortable tendency or not. Being close to the action — the view, the instructor, the gear — can set you up for a great workout; plus, if you’re at all motivated by being observed, parking yourself up front can lead to a better burn.
Here are five reasons to select a spot at the top of the room, even if it makes your inner introvert want to cry a little. (You can do it!)
1. You will have the best view of the mirror
Being able to check your form is an important way to integrate your mind with your body during a workout, especially if it’s something new. There is valuable feedback in checking and correcting your form, seeing it with your eyes and feeling it in your body. This helps ensure you maintain proper form — preventing injuries and helping you get the most from your moves — for the long haul. Parking yourself at the front with an unimpeded view of the mirror allows you to check in on your alignment whenever you need. Plus, there’s something motivating about looking yourself in the face in the mirror and pushing yourself forward. You ARE a badass, yes!
2. You can get a little bonus space
It’s just a weird thing that happens with the physics of the space: people get less crowded at the front because it’s hella awkward to be too close to the mirror (or the equipment). You benefit from being able to spread out a bit (and can help to set the space for the room, giving a bit more room to those behind you based on where you drop your gear).
3. You can get a better view of the instruction and demos
Get up close and personal with the instructor for the best view of what’s going on, especially if you’re new to the workout. Having a clear eye line to the demonstration means you’ll get more out of your workout AND you’ll be less prone to injury — doing it right (with the extra supervision of the instructor) is always a good thing. Have questions? The instructor is likely to be close by and if you need clarification on the instructions, you save time waiting to be seen flagging them down.
If you’re a superstar workout person and you’ve taken the class dozens of times, being at the front can also be a huge gift to your instructor: they can rely on you to demo a move or to consistently perform something well as a model for newbies in the room. You get a better workout and help your instructor out — everyone wins.
4. It can make you work harder
It goes without saying that you’re a bit on display when you’re at the front. Slack off and the folks around you may notice. Yes, everyone is focusing on their own workout and their assessment shouldn’t matter at all, but if there are folks looking for an example to follow (or somewhere to put their attention to get through a tough set), it’s quite possible their eyes will land on you.
If you’re a competitive person, terrific! How motivating. You’re in a great position to get in a full-out workout where you work at your max and keep up your best form.
If the thought of being observed is terrifying, that’s okay! Do something that scares you to conquer it (and probably see an improvement in your performance as a result).
Just don’t be this guy.
5. You can help set the tone for the class
If you’ve ever had a less-than-ideal experience in a class where the energy is low, the tone is grumbly and everyone seems just a little irritated to be asked to work hard, great news: being at the front puts you in a position to set the tone for the room. Use your high energy, your positive words and even a simple encouraging smile to someone nearby to spread the niceness and improve everyone’s experience in the room.