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Best Group Fitness Classes for Beginners

Getting a gym membership is half the battle. Once you have that little key tag, it’s time to give it some play.

As a beginner, you might need a little direction and help getting moving, and group fitness classes are a great place to start.

You’re in a group environment with other exercisers, there’s an instructor pushing you and playing motivating music. The best part is, you don’t have to think about what to do when you get to the gym. Ooh, you’re done in an hour. How awesome is that?!

But…what classes do you start with? We don’t want to walk into a burpee marathon, cause that might suck.

I’ve rounded up a list of classes I think best for the group fitness “virgin” so you can get moving, burning calories and improve your health.

Sculpt

I’m probably reliving the 80’s with the “sculpt” suggestion, but I think it’s a great class for beginners if you find one on a group fitness schedule. Sculpt just means choreographed weight lifting.

There’s a teacher in front of the class taking you through a full body workout with hand weights. The best part, you have a live person demonstrating a move. You get tips and pointers on how to do the move correctly and if the class is small, they come over and give you a little help. If you can remember the moves, you’re building a library of exercises that you can repeat at home.

A few possible class titles include; BodyPump and LIFT.

Core

A core class or class centered around working your abs isn’t too hard for a beginner. Honestly, it depends on the instructor.

Classes usually involve you laying on a mat, or being on the ground for most of the class working you core. Just like the sculpt class, the class is choreographed to music, with an instructor demonstrating the moves.

If the going gets tough, you’re already on the floor, so just stay there. It’s low impact and since it’s core focused, should be slow paced.

Low Impact

You’re more likely to find the words low impact in the class description instead of a class labeled low impact. This type of class description was used to attract the senior population, but times have changed.

As the name implies, low impact classes are just that. There’s minimal impact to your joints with moves like burpees and squat jumps.

Get ready to do some cardio, but without your feet leaving the ground. A good instructor will get your heart rate up with big arm and leg movements, and you don’t have to worry about things like your knees and back hurting because of explosive moves.

Because this class is beginner-esque, you will have a few options for taking the intensity up or down a notch.

Mat Pilates

Now, a mat pilates class can be a little tricky. If you’re a novice, check to see if the class has a level, or says beginner or advanced. A class with a Level 1 description is for beginners.

I once struggled my way through an entire mat pilates class only to discover at the end that it was advanced. When I tell you I was mad as hell. My abs and butt felt lifted after, but still…

Mat pilates, just like a core class, is performed on the floor. The instructor takes you through a series of movements using your arms and legs. Mind body movements are coordinated with your breath.

Classes help you move your entire body as one unit. Although pilates seems abdominal focused, be prepared to lift and lower your legs, or perform tiny circular movements. Be sure to check the class description though, mat pilates sounds easy but can kick your butt.

Water Aerobics

Now not all water aerobics classes are created equally. Read the class description before going. Water is low impact, but you can break a sweat in these classes.

Moving through the pool by lunging or running is not uncommon. They’ve even added timed intervals, plyometrics, and surfboards to water aerobics classes these days. Do your research before getting into the water to get jiggy.

Check the group fitness schedule at your gym to see what they offer. Read the descriptions of the class offerings to see if there’s a class you’re interested in. Look for words like low impact and mixed levels, maybe even beginner.

If in doubt, ask the front desk what class they recommend for newbies. If nothing else, give a class you’re interested in a try one time. If you stumble into a class that’s not actually beginner, it’s fine, just work at your own pace.

At the end of class, let the instructor know it’s your first time. If you found the class hard, say so, and ask for other class suggestions. They might teach other classes on the schedule for beginners or be able to provide suggestions for you.

What class have you been eyeing to start with? My very first class was sculpt. It was so much fun and actually started me on my journey to a career in fitness.

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