Morning folks! Awww THURSDAY. The weekend so close we can almost TASTE IT. Before we get started with the tips for what to expect when you go to your first fitness class, housekeeping items!

Tomorrow is Friday, and ’round these parts that means it’s a Friday Giveway day! Tomorrow’s giveaway will be open to my email list subscribers only. Random number will be picked and I’ll go down my list of subscribers and that person gets the prize.  You can sign up using the form to your right (pink cupcake! pink cupcake! look for the piiiink cuuuupcaaakkkkeee).

So what’s the prize?

The New York City Ballet Workout Book.

Okay! So for my friends out there that want to try group exercise but haven’t gotten up the nerve… I feel ya.  That was me. It sounds fun and you surreptitiously peek inside the room between the elliptical and trips to the water fountain.  They look like they’re having fun, but it’s so intimidating.

I am here to DE-INTIMIDATE it for you.

First, I really like to quote myself because I am both a genius and a bit of a know-it-all (I’m only kidding about one of those things.  Guess which?)  I have a post up about fitness and the comfort zone, in which I used the men’s bathroom.  Go read it.  Okay, I’m quoting myself again:  Here are physical tips about how to get the most out of Zumba (or any workout).  Two Three words:  Adequate sports bra.

K, so now you know to find the women’s bathroom ahead of time and to wear strong support.  Now what?

1.  Read the class description.

Check the paper schedule or the website for class descriptions.  It will describe the class and, more importantly, the difficulty level. You don’t want any nasty surprises. I once read a hilarious diatribe against Zumba by an ardent Crossfit-er.  The best part? “I hate dancing in workouts.”  Ummmmm.  You were going to Zumba.  And you hate to dance.  And… you’re surprised you hated Zumba?

2.  Please show up on time to your first class.

You know why in-progress classes look so intimidating when you peek in the window?  You haven’t heard the directions from the instructor.  Everyone looks like they know what they’re doing because the instructor has told them what to do! From the outside looking in, it looks like everyone is just super coordinated and fitness-y.

So on your first class, I guarantee your enjoyment will be maximized times 1,000,000 if you don’t walk in in the middle of exercise in progress.  You will be lost and you will feel silly.  So do yourself a favor and get there early. If you’re taking a class with props or weights (yoga, Body Pump, step etc.) you must get there early to set up your gear.

3.  Remember no one is looking at you.

Unless you come in late. HA! Just kidding.  Don’t worry about whether you’re going the wrong way or if you look dumb.  People are either watching the instructor or themselves.  Unless you’re that person who stands in the front row right behind the instructor and decides they’re going to do their own choreography (FYI, that’s actually pretty awesome, but it’s confusing for everyone so stand in the back if you feel like free-stylin’).

4.  Introduce yourself to your instructor.

Some advise instructors to ask alllll the new people to raise their hands.  Because new people don’t feel uncomfortable enough already.  Right?  The intentions are good — no one is trying to make a new person feel gawked at or weird.  But that’s just what happens if someone puts you on the spot in a class of 40 strangers.

I generally don’t ask people to shine a spotlight on their newness. Some gyms don’t agree with this, but they’re wrong and I’m right (because Chalene taught me to do it this way). I’ll make general announcements for my newbies about modifications and the format, but that’s it.

If you are injured or just getting back into exercise after a long hiatus, please tell your instructor about any injuries you have. I learned this when a student introduced herself and listed a bunch of injuries. She’d been physically adjusted in a yoga class in a way that really hurt her.  She gave permission to the instructor to adjust her not knowing he planned to move her leg higher in the air, which aggravated an old back injury.

5.  Introduce yourself to other students.

Sometimes it feels like everyone already knows everyone else and you’re standing around awkwardly.  That’s not the case! People might know the 2 or 3 other students standing near them, but often people don’t talk to each other.  It’s kind of awkward… I know you, you know me, sorta, but we don’t know each others’ names but we see each other once a week… is it weird to ask your name now? Did I already ask and forget it? Is it dumb to introduce myself now after all these weeks have gone by?  So just nip all that awkwardness in the bud by being friendly as soon as you get to class.

6.  There are no spots, but try not to take someone’s spot.

I hear tales of people getting territorial in classes over “their” spot on the floor.  This hasn’t happened to me personally, but I guess it’s a source of drama.  So if it seems like someone is standing next to you quivering with pent-up fury, ask if you’re in “their” spot.  They may be crazy, but you can’t fight crazy. So let them have the spot and stand next to someone sane.

Students/Instructors: What did I leave out?  Leave your pearls of wisdom below! Help our future fitness comrades out!