My first time. I can still remember how it felt. I was nervous because I had never done it before, but also excited to see what it would be like. I entered the room knowing kind of what to expect from the stories my friends had told me, yet knowing my experience might not be the same as theirs. What if I hate it? What if it’s super obvious that I don’t know what I’m doing? Will it hurt? I felt exposed, like a spotlight was shining on me and everyone would know it’s my first time with a group…
Group fitness classes (what did you think I meant?). They can be scary for a newbie. I remember my first time as being squished up against the back wall of a packed out Body Combat class. Ten minutes in and I was spent. And then the instructor told us that was just the warm up? Ah, crap. How would I make it through the full hour?
I felt completely uncoordinated. Limbs flying everywhere, sweat dripping (somebody pass me my towel). Every other person in the room seemed to be better at it than me. They showed the body confidence of people who had not been in just one fitness class but multiple classes. Next to them I felt completely inadequate.
Overall, my first time was classically awkward. But by the time I was done….god damn, I felt good! Let’s do that again!
Fast forward a few years to a new me. I am quite the class slut. I have been all over the gym. In all the rooms and even outdoors on the lawn in full view of everyone in the car park. I am no longer squished against the back wall, I am now up the front of the class with all my new friends I have met over the years. Sometimes I even get called up on stage to show everyone how good I can do it.
I have most definitely become the girl that the newbies look at thinking, “I hope she can’t tell I’m new”. I can. I see you and I know how you are feeling and what you are thinking. I know the things you are too scared to ask or don’t know how to do.
So for you, newbie, I have come up with a few tips to help you feel a little more confident and comfortable when you first enter a new room of fit, sweaty bodies:
Introduce yourself to the instructor before the class.
A good instructor will usually ask newbies to raise their hands before they begin the class but even the best instuctors can forget to do so from time to time. Introducing yourself will mean you don’t have to shyly raise your hand while everyone turns to see you. First awkard moment diverted. The instructor may ask you if you have done any exercise before. If so, what and do you have any injuries. Tell the truth. The more upfront you are about things the better the instructor can accomodate for you in the class. When instructors know there is new people in their classes they will adjust their delivery. They will give better breakdowns of each of the movements and cut down on any jargon that only regulars might understand.
Don’t squish yourself up again any wall or corner.
If you can manage it, position yourself at the centre of the class. Seriously, I want you smack bang in the middle. The back of the class is actually the worst place for a newbie to be (in my opinion anyway).
- It screams, “Hello! I’m new here so I’m just going to be up against this wall where I think no-one can see me.” If you are wanting to blend in , this is not the location for it.
- You can’t see properly back there. Out of all the people in the class, you are the one who needs to be able to see the technique and movements being used. It will make the whole class a lot easier for you.
Take a friend.
Don’t under estimate moral support. When you stuff up a move or feel self conscious there is someone there to help you laugh it off. Even now, after hundreds of fitness classes, the classes I do with friends seem to be over in half the time. The key here is to choose your workout buddy wisely. Choose someone who wont slack off but can still have fun.
Also take a water bottle and a towel.
Because things are bound to get hot and sweaty.
The ultimate tip that took me from feeling self conscious to self confident….
Repeat this to yourself: “If I look stupid doing this, no one cares. And if they do care at all, it will just be about how great they look in comparison to me. Therefore, I am making them feel great about themselves. So this pretty much just makes me a fantastic person.” Ok, so that may be a little bit longwinded to remember but you get the gist. It’s what I told myself when I was first began taking classes at my gym and it worked for me.
The truth that I now know is that the old regulars really don’t pay any mind to new people at all. They are too busy checking themselves out in the mirror to pay attention to what anyone else is doing (damn my biceps are looking good). If they are thinking anything at all it will be “Oh, the class is busier than usual today.” That is pretty much the extent of it. So no matter how awkward and exposed you feel as a newbies, just remember, no one is judging you for not being as fit, as agile or as strong. All the members up at the front of the class once started squished up against the back wall and they know how you feel. True fitness lovers will high five anyone you for just showing up and giving it a go.
So if you are about to experience your first time or have just had a little nibble and would like to go back for more, apply one or two of these tips. I’d love to know if they also work for you. Don’t be scared. I promise you’ll like it.
Love Jess xx