There are a lot of obvious signs that you’re in the wrong fitness class. It doesn’t meet at a convenient time or it’s not available at a location that’s nearby, for instance. But some signs are not quite so obvious. If you’ve tried a class and didn’t like it, don’t give up. There are just too many great fitness classes available. You don’t have to settle for a stinker or quit classes altogether.
Too many people go to a group fitness class, have a bad experience and never try another. This might be worse than settling for a bad fitness class! Not all of them are the same. So if you experience any of the below, keep searching for the class that will keep you coming back.
Sign #1 you picked the wrong fitness class: Not challenging enough
No exercise class is going to lead to immediate results. No matter how hard you exercise on any given day, if you don’t commit to a consistent routine, you’re not going to get the desired results. Your routine has to push you out of your comfort zone on a regular basis. Whether you’re weight lifting, jogging or practicing yoga, you need to make gains by being challenged in your exercise routine. Fitness classes should offer challenging but achievable tasks. If you aren’t being pushed out of your comfort zone a bit, you may have picked the wrong fitness class.
Sign #2 you picked the wrong fitness class: Too challenging
We all have physical limitations and different skill levels. "Vigorous exercise" means different things to different people, but we should all expect some discomfort when exercising.
However, if you feel like the class is presenting numerous challenges that you just can't complete, the class may not be right for you. At least not yet.
Exercise is like playing a musical instrument or trying a new sport: Don't expect to play golf like Phil Mickelson any time soon if you're just starting. You won't play the guitar like Joan Jett when you pick up the six-stringed ax for the first time.
In fact, it takes decades of dedication to master a sport or instrument. This doesn't mean incremental challenges are unimportant. If your teacher is not expecting enough from you, that's a problem. But if the tasks you're expected to complete are impossible for you, find a new class and maybe work your way up to the more rigorous classes in a few months. Consistent achievable challenge is the right formula for a great fitness routine.
Sign #3 you picked the wrong fitness class: Instructor is unwelcoming
If you become friends with your instructor, great. But it's certainly not a requirement.
Your instructor should try to create a welcoming environment by being respectful, clear and motivational. Not every teacher is going to be a "people person," but there's no excuse for a surly instructor.
If you've got a grump for an instructor, you might be in the wrong fitness class. On the other hand, the instructor may be extremely outgoing and treat everyone like a regular. This might be nice for some participants but can also mean the instructor offers no instruction for beginners. They might assume that everyone "gets it." This can quickly make newcomers feel left out and left behind.
Sign #4 you picked the wrong fitness class: No rewards
You should be getting rewarded in class by getting positive results over time. There are many different ways to feel rewarded in a group fitness class: socially, physically and emotionally.
Having the expectation that every class every day will be rewarding on all those levels may be unrealistic. But you've got to get some reward at least occasionally. Otherwise, why keep going?
To ensure you'll keep coming back, the class has got to reward you on a consistent basis. You should also look forward to the class because you're having fun and feeling that your time and effort are giving you something back. That's the ultimate reward.
Advice for finding the right fitness class
If the challenge level of your class is not right, do a little research. Take a look at the gym's website to read class descriptions. Classes may be ranked for difficulty or intensity.
SilverSneakers classes are ranked for intensity with flame icons. The more flames, the more intense the class. This might help you find the right level of challenge. Look for classes that are either more rigorous or more accessible for you — whether they are SilverSneakers classes or not. Online research may be your solution but, if not, do some in-person primary research.
Next time you’re at the gym, pay attention to who is coming and going to the classes. SilverSneakers members have access to many other classes offered at the locations of their choice. And members can take classes at thousands of locations nationwide.
Take a look at who comes and goes at the classes and make a choice to join them if you know you can keep up. If the challenge of your class is perfect but the instructor isn't hitting the mark for you, there's a solution for that, too.
If you aren't feeling welcome in the class, try arriving early and introducing yourself to the instructor. If you're comfortable doing so, let the instructor know your feelings. They may not even be aware that their approach to the class is alienating some participants.
There is a possibility that your ideal class is not even held in a gym. Maybe it’s at one of the many SilverSneakers FLEX® class locations. These are held in various locations in your community and are led by SilverSneakers instructors. You might find a dance class in a park or a yoga class at a church. You never know where you might find the perfect class for you. No matter what, don’t give up: Your Goldilocks class is out there!