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A woman resting while sitting on a yoga mat in a fitness facility.

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:

  • Start with a few small-group classes to familiarize yourself with the format and style of the group approach.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • When you join the larger class, make sure you let the teacher know that you’re new to the group.
  • 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.)
  • 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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