What to do at the gym… when you don’t know what to do at the gym

Ever gone to the gym and just stood there looking at all the people working out… and then wondered to yourself,”OK, I’m here. I have one hour to work out. What now?”

I know. I’ve been there too. The solution? GROUP CLASSES.

Why? Because the instructors tell you what equipment to use, how many reps to do, how to do it right, how not to do it wrong. AND you are off the hook of trying to figure it out all on your own. Plus, at most gyms, the group classes come free with your memembership. So if you don’t have extra money for a personal trainer, and you don’t know how to use those crazy machines, you can walk right into a 5:30 afterwork Strength/Sculpt class and walk out an hour later with a structured workout, and no stress.
“But working out isn’t fun.”
Then what’s fun? Do you like to dance? Try a hi-lo class, cardio dance, or Zumba. Shaking your booty is good for your heart and mind and can lead to a huge calorie loss. You don’t have to be lifting weights to be working out. Have fun moving. Calorie burning is just a side effect.

“But I have no rythym!”
It’s ok. Not every group class is Jane Fonda’s Step Aerobics. Classes like Body Sculpting, Strength, Abs, Bootcamps, and TRX are all good choices for those who want to work out in a group setting without having to stay with a beat and remember choreography.

“But I’m a guy, and guys don’t do group”
Sure they do. Maybe not Cardio Dance, but my Bootcamps and TRX classes have been filled with guys. You don’t always have to take a class that starts with “5,6,7,8!” When guys take a class it can up the ante for everybody else in the class, even other guys. The great thing about taking a class with somebody right next to you is that you’re less likely to stop when you’re tired. “Well, he’s still going, I can keep going too.” That level of competitiveness can make you work harder and make gains faster.

“But I have bad knees (shoulders/back/wrists), I can’t do it.”
No worries. Just talk to your instructor right before class starts. Let them know of any physical limitations or health conditions you might have. They’ll be sure to give you alternative movements if something in class is going to put stress on you. If you can’t talk to your instructor before class, wave them down if a certain exercise is bothering you. They’d rather give you a modification than have you standing around doing nothing. Any good instructor will give higher and lower modifications during a class anyway, but don’t be afraid to let them know of any joint pain. It’s their job to make the class worthwhile for every person in that room.

“But I don’t want anybody to see me, I don’t know what I’m doing.”
I get it. When I’m teaching, I’m front and center and it’s the Ami Show! But when I’m taking a class, I hang out in the back corner where I can see everything but nobody can see me. Wherever you need to be is fine, as long as you’re moving. The superstar ‘regulars’ of class will fight to be in the front anyway. You can watch them or your instructor if you’re not sure of the exercise.

The point of this post is to get the most out of your time at the gym. Walking around looking at the weights and machines and wasting time isn’t going to do much for you. There are lots of varieties of class throughout the day at the gym. Pick a new one every time you come: TRX, yoga, bootcamp, kickboxing, pilates. You’ll learn different styles of working out, get to know people at your gym, and you may even pick up some new exercises for when you do need to work out on your own or at your house. Eventually you’ll have a repertoire of exercises and won’t need classes. But I’ll bet you’ll find yourself coming back regardless. The music and energy of a group class is contagious and fun. That hour will go by before you know it!

So try something new at the gym this week. Your body will thank you.
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  1. I always tell people it’s not about your abilities it’s about your attitude. It’s good to step out of your comfort zone every once in awhile. Great Blog Ami, with some wonderful advice!

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