Get Fit, Stay Fit: How To Pick The Best Fitness Class
Photo: Thomas Barwick (Getty Images)
From CrossFit and SoulCycle, to the rise of ClassPass, it’s no secret that our generation wants to get fit and do it in a class environment. Who can blame them? Unlike working out solo, fitness classes assign an expert to carefully curate a workout that will get you in shape and keep you motivated.
I spent nearly a year attending, dissecting, and reviewing exercise classes all over New York City for my podcast “The Cool Down.” Here are the best criteria to pick the right class for you and get the best sweat for your buck.
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5. Class Size
Class size can affect your workout in multiple ways. First, there’s the simple issue of logistics and safety. If you’re attending a dance-based class or something with a lot of full-body movements, you want to pay attention to how much space is available. Movement-based classes are best when there’s a wide open space with fewer people.
Second, classes with too many people prevent attendees from getting personalized attention and help from the instructor. Even if you’re a fitness fanatic, chances are you’ll make a mistake. If your instructor is stretched too thin, they may miss a chance to correct something that could prevent a major injury down the line.
Lastly, class size can affect your comfort level during your workout. If you’re newer to exercise, or trying something out of your comfort zone, you might feel more comfortable getting “lost” in a larger crowd of people.
Tip: Plan ahead. Stop by the class before you sign up to check out not only the size of the space, but how big the crowd is.
While you may be religiously devoted to your exercise of choice, it’s important to pick a fitness class that tackles multiple disciplines. Most studios advertise themselves as being able to improve one or two things (strength, cardio, flexibility, weight loss, etc.). Any class worth the price of attendance will make a point to incorporate different areas. Orange Theory is a great example, where getting a total body workout is the goal of each class.
Tip: Cross-training will help keep you more fit in the long run by preventing injury and improving conditioning. Cross-training will also expose you to new and interesting routines to use outside of class.
3. A Great Instructor
The quality of the instructor can make or break the fitness class experience. The last thing you want is a checked-out babysitter just waiting for their shift to end. Your instructor’s energy should amp you up for your workout. Their genuine love for what they do and for helping people have the greatest workout possible should motivate you. It’s much easier to stay motivated when it’s clear the person leading the class is having a blast, too.
Most importantly, your instructor should have a deep understanding of the exercise offered. They should also be highly attentive to each attendee. Combined with a properly-sized class, these qualities will ensure each person is in a safe and effective environment and that everyone who took the class will walk away a little more educated than before the class started.
Tip: Pick an interactive instructor. Nothing is more inspiring than an instructor who does the work with you. Their participation will push you to do and be your best.
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If you’re going to spend money for a fitness class, it better offer something you can’t get anywhere else. Whether it’s the equipment, instructors, or the studio’s atmosphere that draws you in, make sure the workout is unique enough to be worth your time. I remember one class that was just several trainers running around telling 3o of us to do one body weight exercise after another.
Tip: If you can curate and execute the workout with ease on your own, look for something more challenging.
Yes, price. The most obvious criterion is clearly the most important. However, price goes way beyond the cost of a single attendance. Studios want to have loyal followers, so many will offer a discounted or free first-time class. If you fall in love with their fitness class, check to see how much their multi-class packages cost and calculate the savings.
Tip: By calculating the price ahead of time, you can buy a bigger, better package that will motivate you to actually show up.