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Experience Life senior fitness editor Maggie Fazeli Fard, RKC, MFT-1, prefaces her advice by pointing out a basic workout principle: “Remember, it’s your responsibility to keep yourself safe while you’re exercising.” With that in mind, here’s what she recommends:

  1. Start with a few small-group classes to familiarize yourself with the format and style of the group approach.
  2. As you “shop” for larger group classes, be on the lookout for an instructor who’s good at both motivating and demonstrating — somebody who is capable of ramping up your enthusiasm but also able and willing to patiently show the class how the moves are meant to be done.
  3. Before joining the larger class, make sure you understand your strengths and limitations, because the instructor won’t be able to give you highly personalized attention.
  4. When you join the larger class, make sure you let the teacher know that you’re new to the group.
  5. At the same time, inform the instructor that you’re open to any tips or modifications that make the exercises work better and more safely for you. (This is also a good time to disclose whether or not you are open to physical contact.)
  6. If you find a move difficult, remember that you don’t have to keep up with other people in the class. It’s OK to slow down and modify the routine to suit yourself.

And remember: If you need one-on-one instruction, sign up with a personal trainer.

This originally appeared as “I want to try one of my gym’s large group fitness classes. How can I keep myself from getting injured?” in the November 2019 issue of Experience Life.

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