Today I went to a new class at the gym and it was such fun. It was described as an antenatal and postnatal class but not much more than that so I didn’t know what to expect. However, I really liked the idea of going to something which is specifically for pregnancy.

It was so unlike the previous gym class I went to. The instructor was really friendly and had us all introduce ourselves. It was about 5 minutes of a fairly gentle Zumba-esque warm up and then various stretching and strengthening exercises. It was a lovely atmosphere and I also felt that even though I wasn’t hot and sweaty at the end, I definitely worked muscles. I hope I’ll go regularly from now on. Oh, and the instructor was Israeli (as were a few other participants) so she would keep switching between Hebrew and English, it was like exercise ulpan. Bit random!

I was thinking about Lin whose blog I follow. She had been wanting to try new exercise options but felt the need to go with someone. I totally get that feeling, of not wanting to walk into a room of really fit people by yourself. The first Zumba class I went to, over two years ago, because a friend encouraged me to go with her. I’d had to go to the shops before I went to buy something suitable to wear (which ended up being really hot and uncomfortable). And I didn’t like it. It was too high a level for me, the class was too big, so no personal attention and I really didn’t like the music. But because I didn’t feel so confident in my exercising knowledge and ability I blamed it on myself at the time.

The more different things I’ve tried, the more I’ve learnt.

I’d like to share my “wisdom” with those who are perhaps considering and not going to a class for these reasons:

I won’t have anything to wear – Before we go to a class we have the idea that everyone there will be really skinny and wearing really trendy workout clothes. I’m not denying there will be some people and classes like that, but in my experience people wear a real variety of clothes. From one lady who did Zumba in tights, a knee length skirt and cardigan every week to others in mismatched t shirts and pyjama bottoms.

You will feel better about yourself if you have an outfit you like, but mostly people who are exercising are too preoccupied with themselves to give two hoots about what you are wearing.

I won’t be able to keep up – Maybe. Maybe not. I’ve been to classes which were too hard and others which were a good fit. For ones which were too hard, if the instructor is any good, they should give alternate options. If they meet you feel bad about yourself, then it is their failing as a teacher. You’ve gone to the effort of trying something new, putting yourself out on a limb, if the instructor doesn’t recognise that, then they are not someone you need to waste your time and money with. Which brings me to:

The instructors – so I’ve learnt to be more confident in my own abilities or lack of. If I feel I can’t do something, I won’t. Doesn’t matter of everyone else is. If it hurts, don’t do it. If you think you will collapse, don’t do it. If the instructor isn’t nice, don’t go back. Trust yourself.

Exercise can be enjoyable – not that every moment you’ll feel full of joy but overall, at the end of whatever class or exercise you’ve done you would feel some kind of good. (Not G-d as predictive text suggested! It doesn’t have to be a spiritually uplifting experience!!) What kind of good will depend if the type of exercise and class. But at the end of it you should feel some kind of better than you did before doing it. It shouldn’t be a punishment or torture and you shouldn’t dread doing it. In fact, there’ll be a part of you that looks forward to doing it again. (There’ll probably be another part wanting to sit in an armchair eating crisps, and that’s ok too – the want, not the actually doing it).

Don’t worry about going on your own – Most people do.

What advice would you give someone thinking about starting a new exercise class?