Group fitness classes are a staple of the fitness world, and rightfully so.
After all, multiple studies demonstrate the effectiveness of weight loss in groups.
But with all of your options, how can you choose?
Keep reading to find out!
1. What Are You Looking For?
Knowing what you want out of an exercise class might be challenging for you because you may not realize what you’re looking for.
Something to consider are whether:
- You want to increase strength, endurance or flexibility. To give you an idea, attending a spin class might build your endurance, but it may not increase your bench press. Align your fitness goal with the class you choose.
- You want an experience focused on social activity, fun, or something more serious. Many older people like group fitness classes because they get to be around people of varying backgrounds and ages—retirees, for instance, may long for the companionship they once had in the workplace, so they seek it out in other ways like a group fitness class.
- You want 1-on-1 attention. Some exercise classes are more prone to individual coaching than others. A good coach will dedicate time individually to someone they recognize struggling with—or executing well—a movement. Something else to consider is the size of the class because more people in the class may mean less time for you. If you want 1:1 attention, a class may not be the best option for you, and you may consider personal training instead.
Many classes and gyms offer free trials. Take advantage of them!
2. Where Is The Class?
Think about the logistics of getting to and from your workout class to determine whether it may be a good fit for you.
- How far away is the class? Can you walk or bike to it, or does it require a drive?
- Does the class run on time? If the coach is five minutes late, how does that impact your commute or your workout?
3. What Time Is The Class, And How Long Is It?
Do you like working out more in the morning or later in the day?
Working out in the morning allows you to get up, exercise, and get on with your day. Putting “me time” first lets you focus on taking care of your kids or heading off to work.
Working out later on is another option. Some people use it to blow off steam from the day, or maybe you pick the kids up from school following their after-school activities.
Think about when you can consistently make it to your class to maximize your efforts in it.
Besides the time of day, you’ll also need to know how long the class is. Is an hour too much for you, or can you get it done in 30 minutes?
4. What Is The Cost Of The Class?
Another consideration is the cost of the class.
Gym Or No Gym
The first is whether it’s located in a gym.
Classes associated with gyms may or may not require a membership. And, the classes may come at an additional cost on top of the membership.
Some classes, such as my DDP Yoga class in Metamora, are offered through a local park district. These classes may be less costly compared to classes in gyms due to the lack of overhead.
In addition, gyms and park districts may offer multiple types of payments depending on your needs.
Let’s say you’d like to work out in a class at a gym without a membership. They may offer a punch card instead of a membership, allowing you to pick and choose which class you can make.
What’s The Price Per Class?
I am always conscious of cost, so I try to do some math and think about how much a class will cost if I go (or don’t go).
I’ll use a very specific example.
My DDP Yoga class in Metamora offers several types of payment: Pre-register for all classes offered during a particular session, pay for a punch card in advance to come when you’d like, or drop in when you can. Here’s how the price breaks down for each.
I offer DDP Yoga once a week for 16 weeks during the current session that runs January through April. There could be up to a $40 savings depending on how you attend!
- Pre-registration: $100 for all 16 classes = $6.25 per class
- Punch card: $35 for 5 classes = $7 per class; the total cost for 16 sessions would be $140 (3 cards with 5 punches + 4th card with 1 punch).
- Drop in / pay as you go: $8 per class, or $128 per session (16 multiplied by $8)
Keep this type of math in mind when you begin to go to multiple facilities or classes for your workouts. Classes and memberships could add up quickly!
5. What Is The Facility Like?
Assess the quality of your gym or park district facility.
- Is it well maintained? Is equipment broken or trash strewn about?
- Does it have a changing room or shower? You may need to change before class or freshen up after class.
- Does it have a restroom? Hey, when you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go.
6. What Are The Instructor’s Credentials?
Have you checked out the credentials of your instructor?
Sometimes, popular gyms recruit instructors whose only level of expertise is that they’ve been doing it longer than you have.
Additionally, some people masquerade as “coaches” who belong to multilevel marketing businesses. They may not have the proper education to actually coach you, but they may talk about the benefits of “joining their team” so they can sell supplements to you that may only work if a myriad of other things happen to line up in your life.
Do these instructors possess a certification from an accredited organization? Does that organization offer/require continuing education to maintain their certification?
Plus, from a safety perspective, have they been certified in first aid, CPR, and/or AED? Many of the top fitness certification programs require this. Check with your instructors and verify their credentials in this area, as well.
I’m not arguing you can’t have a good instructor without a certification to back them up, but I’m skeptical of instructors without some type of additional education in the fitness profession.
7. What Is The Culture Of The Class?
Perhaps above all else, the culture of the class could dictate whether you try a class out or return to it.
Is everyone in the class supportive of the group, or do they make snide comments about other members?
Do you feel the people in this class are helping you to get better at whatever your goal is?
You’ll know whether you fit into the class based on the vibe.
If you’re thinking of trying something new or different, a class can be a great option for you. Keep these tips in mind when you’re looking!