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19 Things to Look for in a Group Fitness Class

What do you expect from a cardio class?
What do you expect from a cardio class?

Group fitness classes are great places to get high-energy cardio workouts. But, it's important to find the best class and instructor for you. Here are 19 things to look for before you commit.

The class description should explain the experience level required before you sign up. A beginner won't know what to do in an advanced class. An advanced person might get bored in a beginner class. Choose honestly according to your abilities.

Every class has a soundtrack. Make sure it's one you enjoy. If you're motivated by classic 80s pop but the instructor is playing punk rock, you might not last long. It's best to ask before you sign up so you won't be surprised or disappointed.

Look closely at the equipment. If it's worn, stained or frayed, you shouldn't stay. When equipment isn't maintained, it can break during a critical time and cause serious injury.

Make sure the instructor is certified before you sign up.

Make sure the instructor is certified before you sign up. That won't guarantee a good teacher, but at least they should know the minimums that certification provides.

Be cautious of buzzwords that have nothing to do with the class. If the class is supposed to build strength, you shouldn't be doing high reps with light weights. Building strength requires heavier weights and fewer reps. Ask the instructor to explain how what's taught in the class lines up with their promises.

Your instructor should introduce themselves, greet the students and check if anyone has limitations they might be able to workaround. Before the music starts, you should get a brief overview of what's to come.

Classes should always start and end on time. Starting or ending late shows a lack of respect for the students.

Instructors shouldn't be sharing their personal life or bringing negative things that have happened to the class. They should leave their issues behind when they walk into the room. You should be the focus of their attention, not their problems.

Make sure you can understand what the instructor is saying. If they're mumbling or not speaking clearly, you won't know what to do.

Instructors should keep personal chats during class to a minimum. It's OK to mention when a student has something special coming up, but it's a waste of the student's time if you spend 10 minutes talking about their upcoming party.

Avoid drill sergeants. It's one thing to motivate people to do more. But if your instructor is screaming in your face, it can cause stress and put you at risk of injury.

Every class should provide a warmup to get the blood flowing.

Not every student can make every move. That's especially true in beginner classes. Look for teachers that demonstrate how to modify difficult movements. They should do this without belittling people or singling anyone out for embarrassment.

Form is essential, both for students and the instructor. A good teacher should help you make corrections. But they shouldn't use you as a bad example or shame you in front of the class. If you see an instructor doing things wrong, ask them about it after the class. If they keep doing something wrong, find another class.

Instructors should be focusing on what their students want and need, not their own workout. You're not there to watch a teacher exercise. However, you also don't want someone teaching a class they are not in good enough shape to lead. If they're frequently stopping to catch their breath when the class doesn't need a break, they're cheating you out of a challenging workout.

Look for instructors that count down instead of up. If you're doing a movement and the teacher starts 1, 2, 3... it may not be clear how long that movement will go. But if they start at 10 and count down, you know it will be over after they reach 1. It's even better if you find an instructor that gives cues of what's coming.

Classes should change regularly. Doing the same workout, to the same music, week after week is boring. You'll get better results if things change and continue challenging you.

Your instructor should be available for 5-10 minutes after the class is over. That's when you can ask for more clarification on a specific move or routine. If you're having difficulty, you can always schedule a private session for more help.

Ignore teachers that frequently promote things like supplements or meal plans. Most supplements are worthless, and many are dangerous. Instructors in Florida cannot prescribe meal plans unless they are a registered dietitian. You signed up for an exercise class, not a sales pitch.

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