Get active with others in a group

Group fitness and exercise classes are a great way to have fun and reach your fitness goals.

Group of women doing of an exercise class.It’s natural to feel worried about being coordinated when taking a group exercise class. However a good instructor will put you at ease and help you learn the moves at your own pace. An increasing number of instructors are actually offering classes that don’t require moving to music.

Here are a few things you should consider before starting if you are new to group exercise:

  1. Find a class that is suited to your current fitness levels.
  2. Look for a class that provides a supportive environment for new people.
  3. Try a variety of different classes to find one that suits you.

Often the first session is free so you can go along without having to commit long term.

Finding the right class and type of activity

There are many ways to find out about group exercise classes on in your local area:

  • Talk to your friends;
  • Contact your local recreation centre or gym;
  • Contact your local adult and community education programme providers (like high school);
  • Use the Active Canterbury Activity Search;
  • call 0800 ACTIVE (228 483); or
  • Search on the internet.

Find out about different types of group fitness and exercise classes available that you may like to try [PDF].

Contact the instructor(s) beforehand to discuss the class and what’s involved. Explain you are just starting out and get their advice on whether this is a good class for you.

Your first time at the class or group

Here are some tips for making the most of your first class:

  • Get there five minutes early so you can meet the instructor and find out a bit more about the session.
  • Stand in the middle of the room so the instructor can watch your form. You will also be able to see and follow some more seasoned members of the class.
  • Don't try moves that you can't do or don't know how to do yet. This will help stop you getting discouraged and/or injured. Most classes should accommodate all levels, and instructors should give you options during the workout.
  • Listen to your body during the whole class. It's easy to get swept up into the music and the energy of the room. Stay tuned into your body during the workout - only you know how you are feeling, and what you are ready to handle. Take a break when you need to, breathe, and be sure to stay hydrated.
What to wear and bring

Comfort is the key! You need to wear something that allows you to move freely. This could mean your familiar track pants and a baggy T-shirt. A top made from breathable fabric is best as it allows sweat to evaporate. Stretch leggings, track pants, tights or shorts can also be a good choice.

A good pair of footwear is also advisable for avoiding injuries. Make sure your shoes fit well and have adequate cushioning and support - you don't need the latest offering or technology. A good pair of socks can also make a big difference.

Ladies need a good supportive bra. A sports bra is perfect, but any sturdy and supportive bra that fits well will be OK.

Remember to take along a water bottle and a towel.