I remember my first group fitness class vividly. After a few weeks stumbling around the weight machines at my gym, I eventually settled for the treadmill or stairs to nowhere. From the treadmills, I could see into the group fitness room where I would sit and stare.
Why would anyone want to workout and look at themselves in a ginormous mirror like that? I would be too afraid of stepping on someone or getting in the way! I avoided that group fitness room like the plague for months! Everyone in that room seemed to flow in rhythmic motion like they’d been practicing together for months. I could never have that kind of coordination! I had many doubts.
Eventually, a good-natured friend lured me into a class. I remember standing in the back praying the instructor would ignore me and maybe I could find a way to slip out the side door in the middle of class and get back to my viewing station on the treadmill.
Something happened though and I slowly became HOOKED. The energy, variety of exercises, instructors, and music all became very addicting. I was no longer getting bored with my workouts and started really looking forward to them! What was happening to me??? I was becoming a group fitness groupie!
Things got weird. I began moving closer and closer to the front of the room until eventually, I was on the front row in every class I would attend. I became friends with all of my instructors and then I became an instructor! What was happening!?
After years of teaching in different big box gyms, I decided to open a fitness studio called Fired Up Fitness. At FUF we would focus solely on the group fitness aspect of gym life. The part that had the biggest impact on MY life!
I’ve learned a lot of do’s and don’t since my time watching on the sideline! I want to share my top tips for newbies, oldies, and everyone in between.
Here are my top ten group fitness etiquette tips!
Don’t be late to class.
I learned this pretty early on. I felt mortified walking into a class already in session. It’s a huge distraction! Of course, things happen and sometimes lateness happens. If you’re more than 5-10 minutes late you might consider waiting for the next class. If you’re notoriously late, it’s time to find new methods to help with timeliness. Missing the class warm up and stretch out are big no-nos you’ll want to avoid. If you need to leave a class early simply let the instructor know before class begins that you’ll be slipping out a bit early. Most instructors will appreciate the heads up instead of assuming they did something to make you walk out.
You’ll want a sweat towel, water bottle, deodorant that works, and pants that pass the see-through test when you bend over in a forward fold. Those back row ladies get a FULL show sometimes! A supportive sports bra and good training shoe should also be on your list! Do your research, ask the other ladies in class for their recommendations and figure out the gear that works best for you. Check out a list of our favorites here.
Don’t be rude.
Have you been in a class where the instructor is trying to explain a move or exercise but the chatty Kathy’s of the group are talking up a storm? I’ve felt the frustration as an instructor trying to talk over people and as a participant wanting to hush the crowd so I could try to understand what was being explained. Talking during class is rude. Turn your phone off too. This is time to focus on YOU. If you’re checking your phone during every break are you really focused on your workout? Probably not. If you’re too busy to workout, need to take a phone call, or respond to texts excuse yourself from class to avoid distracting everyone else.
Don’t be a stranger.
One of the best things about group fitness is the GROUP! This is your opportunity to make amazing new friends. Pay attention to your body language, resting bitch face, and overall vibe. Are you approachable? Your body language introduces you before a word ever comes out of your mouth. Say hello, smile, and introduce yourself to someone you’ve never met. Group fitness becomes a lot of fun when you’re taking a class with friends. A simple “hello” is a fabulous place to start!
Don’t skip the workout, modify the workout!
We offer modifications in all of our classes. It helps to have a heads up when someone is struggling with an injury or other limitation. Before class begins, inform the instructor of any injuries or potential need for modifications.
Respect community space.
Wipe down your equipment, clean up after yourself, and leave the space better than you found it. This seems like a no-brainer but reminders help. We get it.
You don’t own that spot.
We are creatures of habit and once you start attending a class consistently it’s easy to settle into the same spot. It’s like a punch to the gut when you show up and find someone else is in “your spot.” What to do!? Don’t panic. You don’t own that spot. As much as we might joke and claim dibs I’ve seen many feelings get hurt over this issue. Don’t be afraid to move around, gain a fresh perspective in a different part of the room! The word might eventually get around to that newbie in class that she’s “in your spot” and she might take it seriously. She might never show up again in fear of taking someone’s spot. Women don’t want to offend other women. You can use things, like a water bottle, to hold your place but I would not get too huffy if you find someone has moved your things. No need to throw down. Get to class early and secure your spot by BEING in your spot. Just remember, you don’t own it. Share.
Class is in session!
If you’re waiting for your class to begin and there is another class in session try to be respectful. Let the class in progress exit the room before you enter. If it’s a calm low volume type of class try to keep your voice down if you’re waiting in the next room over. Have you ever been in Yoga during the final savasana only to have roaring laughter and chatter happening outside the door? Rude. Please be respectful for the class in session.
Give sub instructors a chance! Just because your favorite instructor is sick and called in a sub does not give you a free pass to skip class. Get your workout in, try it with someone new, and step out of your comfort zone. We suggest giving any format and instructor three tries before deciding if you like it or not.
If you’re taking an equipment based class, like Fierce Flex, don’t hoard all of the equipment. If you work out in a facility that has limited equipment try to share and take what’s only necessary. Be willing to share with those around you. When class is over and clean up is in session it’s always a nice gesture to grab a neighbors equipment and help them put their things away too. What goes around comes around. Get on the good karma gravy train!