in partnership
Leave your anxiety at the door. Follow your instructor, make friends with the person next to you, and most importantly have fun. (Photo credit: barre)

Tips & tricks to prepare you for a new workout class

Every week it seems like a new fitness studio pops up in the DC area. Between Crossfit, cycling, boot camp and barre, the options are endless, and even a bit intimidating. If you're stuck in a workout rut and looking to switch things up, it's time to get out of your comfort zone and try that new class you've always been curious about. If you're feeling nervous about being the new kid in class, go in prepared, with an open mindset and a positive attitude, ready to work.

We spoke with local fitness pros to get their tips to prep for day one. Here's what you need to know to rock that first class in a new studio:

Do Your Research

Before your first class, read the website and even call with questions to ensure you know what you're getting yourself into. The more info you have prior to class, the better you can prepare yourself--both mentally and physically. Check what you should wear and what you need to bring (good things to consider: is there water, do they supply towels, are there showers, do you need sneakers, special socks, etc).

Get to Class Early

Aim to get to class at least 10-15 minutes prior to the start (some gyms require you to show up even earlier, so make sure you know the rules). This time will allow you to get checked in, scope out the space and chat with the instructor. Showing up just a few minutes before class starts will have you scrambling to get set up and that added stress is not an ideal way to enter a new zone. Get there earlier than you think is necessary, especially in classes like cycling where you may need help adjusting the bike. Proper set up is extremely important to make your workout efficient and safe.

Jenny Kay, solidcore instructor, emphasizes the importance of getting to class early, "I always want new clients to read the intro email and arrive 10 minutes prior to class. At [Soldcore] first-timers should expect a thorough intro to the machine and to the key moves, and if you come late, there is a chance you miss it and won't be able to take class at that time. "

Remember Your Nutrition

You never really know how your body will react to a new workout. It's important to be prepared with proper nutrition before you hit the gym. If you're low on energy or dehydrated, your workout will suffer.

Nick Singer, owner of Fitology, a boutique fitness studio offering personal training, boot camp, meal planning and massage therapy, explains, "it is important to properly fuel yourself to perform at an optimal level. It is very common that new clients feel light-headed, dizzy, and nauseous when they start to exercise. Lifting weights depletes your glycogen stores in your muscles. When you are fully depleted, your brain doesn't get sufficient amount of blood sugar which causes dizziness. It can be easily avoided by eating a source of a slow-digesting carbohydrate one hour prior to a workout, like oatmeal, brown rice, sweet potatoes, or beans."

Pay Attention

Some workouts are great for zoning out, but others require focus, especially at the beginning when you're learning the ropes. The best classes and instructors will constantly remind you of proper form and will push you to new levels, making you a stronger athlete.

Josh Dempsey owner of CrossFit Silverspring and Crossfit instructor Katie Weddle share, "We're really focused on teaching our athletes the fundamentals so that they can safely learn new movements and gradually make progress and get fitter over the long haul. New athletes should know that many workouts can be scaled, modified, and tailored to meet the needs of novices to advanced athletes, and everyone in between. Everyone can benefit from learning how to move better, get stronger, and push themselves."

Put Trust in Your Instructor

Let the professionals guide you through your workout. Feeling uncomfortable and not sure about the moves? It's always okay to ask for help. Have an injury? Tell your instructor before class so they can provide modifications as needed. Your instructor is there to help, don't be afraid to ask for extra assistance or advice. A good instructor wants to give you as much personal attention as possible, even if it is in a group setting.

Stephanie Magloire, Barre instructor at barre in Logan Circle, wants her students to have a positive experience every time. "Barre is a great way to tone, shape and lengthen those muscles! I love when students check any anxiety about a first class at the front door. Barre is super accessible because we walk you through it. The music works hand in hand with your instructor as a guide to keep you in step. When you're first getting started just follow your guides and most importantly, have fun!"

Let the Energy of the Crowd (or a friend!) Inspire You

There's a reason you're seeking out a group fitness class instead of sweating it out alone on the treadmill. Feed off the energy of the class around you and get swept up in the positive vibes of a bunch of people coming together to push themselves to be stronger and healthier people. Still feeling a little out of your element? Enlist your best friends to experience the first-day-fears with you.

Erin Reilly Hawkins, group fitness instructor in Virginia, reminds, "it’s called 'group fitness' for a reason and it’s not for the faint of heart. A group of people, all different shapes, sizes and fitness levels, can come together to help each other (whether they know it or not) to achieve a common goal. What may start out as trepidation turns to victory. Strength truly is in numbers."

Don't Take Yourself Too Seriously

Maybe you're nervous and hiding in the back corner and then before class starts you're counting down the minutes until you can hit the smoothie bar. But remember, part of finding the right workout for you will mean finding something you actually enjoy doing. Maybe it's a sweaty HIIT session, or maybe it's a high-spirited dance class.

Megan Hill, Zumba instructor at LA Fitness in Leesburg, focuses on the fun, "Come to class with a smile, as long as you are moving, you're getting your workout done. Even if you don't have dance experience, the high energy will keep you having fun and you'll leave class feeling refreshed and renewed!"