12 Easy Ways To Make Your Group Fitness Experience More Personal

by Ashley Fern

There are two types of people in this word: those who love group fitness and those who absolutely hate it.

Personally, I relate to the former. The more distracted I am while working out and the more I see others right there with me, the better mindset I'm in.

On the other hand, some people get intimidated and self-conscious when surrounded by others, inhibiting them from signing up for a group exercise class.

In my mind, though, if you're exercising alone, you aren't really accountable to anyone.

Sure, you have yourself, but how easy is it to half-ass that set of burpees when no one's around?

That's why having a classroom environment and teacher comes in handy. I mean, aren't you much more inclined to do a jumping jack if someone with a microphone is telling you to?

Whether it's boot camp, weight training or spin class, group work-out classes are rapidly gaining popularity and the options are becoming increasingly diverse. You definitely don't want to miss out on newer, unique ways to get in shape just because they can only be done in a group setting.

At the peak of group-fitness popularity is barre, a method specifically designed for people to achieve that long, lean and toned look.

Many people are wary to try barre because they believe you need a dance background to get the most out of it, but that really could not be further from the truth.

Sure, the method is inspired by dance and, yes, it does incorporate a ballet barre, but the workouts go beyond that.

They target every muscle of your body, honing in on specific areas that usually don't get much attention.

To help you overcome some of your class-related anxieties, Elite Daily spoke with FlyBarre New York fitness instructor Chelsea Gentry Polanco to get her expertise on how to make group fitness more personalized so you not only feel comfortable, but also achieve maximum results.

1. Stand close to the teacher

People are often intimidated to stand up front because then their movements are essentially put on display for the entire class.

But if you think about your experience in class, who are you looking at more, yourself or others?

It also encourages you to stay engaged when you can easily follow the teacher and know she sees what you're doing.

Gentry emphasized how important it is to "show up and connect."

She explained,

What's true in life is also true in regards to getting the most out of your fitness experiences. The more you show up, the more you get out of it. When you open yourself up to really taking in what your fitness instructor is saying, you will undoubtedly achieve better performance in class and better results.

2. Get a spot close to the mirror

A lot of people try to overcome their discomfort in group settings by heading to the back of the room.

If you are feeling less confident in a class, however, you should actually head up front so you can see your entire reflection in the mirror.

This allows you to monitor your form throughout the entire workout and make the necessary adjustments. The sooner you understand and develop proper form, the more comfortable you're bound to feel.

3. Introduce yourself to the teacher before class

Gentry explained,

The more you get to know your instructor, the more connected you become.

Your instructor wants to get to know you! She wants to see you succeed!

If you have ever been to class where the instructor said 'Amazing' over and over to the whole class, you know how impersonal and weightless that remark feels. Although it is positive feedback, one might ask, to whom is it directed? But, when someone says 'Ashley, that's amazing!' it is hard not to feel like a million bucks even if you're in a challenging position and are hanging on for dear life!

And believe me, when you're holding a plank for 45 seconds daydreaming about what you're going to eat afterward, these small comments can go a long way.

4. Bring a friend with you

Exercising with a friend is a great way to motivate both of you.

Sure, working out on a Saturday morning seems great in theory, but after a long night out the last thing you want to do is hit the gym.

By partnering up with a friend, you make yourself accountable and have someone to make the best of the experience with.

5. Ask questions "before, during or after class"

Hey, guess what?

Fitness instructors are in this business because they are passionate about helping clients achieve their goals!

This is literally what they are here for. Chances are if you have a specific question, many others have had similar, if not the same, concerns.

Gentry stressed the importance of speaking up because, "Even if it seems like a small detail, clarifying your placement in even just one exercise can make a huge difference."

6. Follow your teacher on social media

The message Gentry really wants to get across is:

The more you get to know your instructor, the more connected you become.

By following your teachers on social media, you get to see what they are like outside the classroom.

 7. Pick smaller classes

If you're overwhelmed by group fitness classes, try to find a class that doesn't have a crazy amount of people in it.

The smaller the classes are, the more individualized attention you are likely to receive from the instructor. If the class you like is usually packed, try to go during non-peak hours (think mid-day), like during your lunch break or very late in the evening.

8. Don't be shy about injuries

Many people are shy about personal shortcomings and, as a result, are hesitant to disclose these issues to the instructor.

Unfortunately by doing this you are only hurting yourself.

As Gentry explained,

The instructor can give you a heads up about any modifications that you may need to make sure the class is safe and accessible no matter what setbacks you're experiencing.

9. Take the same class with the same teacher often

The more you show up and develop consistency in class, the more the teacher will look out for you and the more connected you will feel.

The more connected you feel in class, the better your performance will be and the more confident you will become.

10. Avoid looking at other people

Try not to distract yourself by checking out others in class. Instead, focus on your form in the mirror or that of the instructor.

By honing in on your reflection on the teacher's movements, you will be able to better tune out the fact you are surrounded by 20 other people.

11. Wear clothes you feel confident and comfortable in

You are going to be looking at your body in the mirror for the majority of class, which means you're going to be staring at your outfit.

Wear something that makes you feel powerful and strong.

12. Embrace hands-on adjustments

Not everyone can afford personal trainers, which is why these types of classes are a great option.

Gentry explained,

At FlyBarre, our goal is to give each client individual attention within a group fitness setting. This inspires every aspect of how we coach our instructors to lead their classes. If someone has less than optimum form, we want to address it and help them move into a position that is more safe and effective.

Not everyone can interpret the verbal cues, so hands-on adjustments allow you to get in proper form the fastest and most correct way possible.

Sure, it may feel odd at first to have a "stranger" thrust your hips forward for you, but that could be the difference between doing the move right and doing it wrong.

Gentry summed it up perfectly:

How many times have you heard an instructor says 'stack your hips' and you feel certain that your hips are stacked, until the instructor comes over and nudges your hip a good 3 inches forward?

For more of her thoughts, humor and ridiculous opinions follow Ashley Fern on Instagram and Twitter.