Trying out a new fitness class can be a great chance to learn something new — or it can be a breeding ground for all your deepest anxieties and insecurities about working up a sweat in front of other people.
In fact, you can take some comfort in the fact that you're probably not the only person skeeved out by the idea of trying something for the first time in front of other people.
Kati Morton, LMFT, says that group fitness classes can be so anxiety-inducing because you're essentially on display, and being a new person in a fitness class can attack your confidence in a very particular way.
"If you’re by yourself, it can make you feel really scared that people would judge you, or you don’t know what to do, or you do something wrong," she says.
It's also not helpful that workout classes are often lined with mirrors, which only heighten that feeling of being on display and exacerbate any worries you have about doing something silly and having someone see it.
While it might be reassuring to know that you're probably not the only one who feels this way (even if it seems like everyone else in the class is a master), Morton says that the key to lessening your worries actually lies in what you tell yourself before the class.
"Before you even go, I would suggest listening to your self-talk, noticing what you tell yourself about it," she says.
If you're anticipating a miserable experience where you get trapped in a weird pilates machine and everyone watches you ride that struggle bus, try to temper that anxiety by reminding yourself that there's a reason you wanted to take this class in the first place.
Remind yourself that there's a reason you wanted to take this class in the first place.
"Try to be more positive and tell yourself it’s going to be great," Morton says. "Say something like, I’m trying something new and I’m excited. I’ve been wanting to do this for a while, and one of my goals is to take better care of myself."
Christina Phillips, a senior instructor at SoulCycle, says that you can also ease your nerves by checking out the studio's website to see if they have any pointers for first-timers.
"Feel free to call the studio," she says. "They should be able to advise you on which class to take, what to wear, what spot to book, and how early to arrive."
Once you're in the class, Phillips says that if you're comfortable with it, you can also tell the instructor that it's your first time and that you're nervous.
"As a fitness instructor, I want nothing more than to welcome you to the workout that I'm in love with," she says. "Plus, we may be able to set your mind at ease with pointers for class. We’ve got your back!"
If you're not able to calm those anxious thoughts before you go to the class, Morton suggests giving yourself time and waiting it out until they've been quelled a little.
If you do go to the class, try to pick a spot in the room where you're not in front of a mirror, and keep the positive self-talk going throughout the session if you find that you're getting self-conscious. Above all else, if trying that kickboxing class for the first time is something you really want to do, try it, anxieties be damned.
"Remind yourself that nobody cares, that you’re doing the best you can, and you look just fine," Morton says. "Anxiety only builds when we feed it, so it’s like a plant. If you don’t water it, it’s not going to live. If you don’t give it what feeds it, it’ll slowly go away."
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