September 15, 2014

Guest Post:How to maximize your results in group fitness classes by Ashley from A Lady Goes West

Today I am excited to introduce you to one of my favorite California bloggers-Ashley! I quickly fell in love with Ashley’s style of writing and blog, and I just know you will too!  I would love to spend a week eating my way through San Francisco (she has a sushi restaurant within walking distance of her place!) and working out with her at her local gym, but since that probably won’t be happening anytime soon, the closest I’ll get to meeting this amazing woman is to have her guest post on Daily Cup of Kate! Take it away, Ashley!

Hello! It’s nice to meet all of you. I’m Ashley Pitt, the voice behind A Lady Goes West. I’m a personal trainer and a group fitness instructor, who just happened to move across the country from Florida to California a couple of years ago, which gave me a name for my blog.

Ashley on the street

I’ve been a reader of Daily Cup of Kate for a while and was so thrilled when Katie asked me to pop in as a guest blogger as she gets married and goes on her mini-moon. While we’ve never met in person, Katie and I have a lot of similarities. Outside of our love of fitness, healthy living and blogging, we both also seem to enjoy having fun and indulgences on the weekends, which is so important in living a balanced life. Not to mention, I planned my wedding two years ago and have loved reliving all of the fun that goes along with that through Katie’s posts.

If you read A Lady Goes West regularly, you’ll see I always post recaps of the workouts I do each week dissecting the good and the bad. I also share one-day-a-week of my typical eats, I write about group fitness classes and I even ramble about topics as varied as the best things to do in San Francisco. But some of my most popular posts are those that provide a little advice on things in the fitness world. Because of that, today I’d like to share with you some of my thoughts on the importance of group fitness, how you can make the most out of it or how to get started. I’ve learned all this from five years of teaching primarily Les Mills group fitness programs like BODYPUMPBODYATTACK  and CXWORX  and spending a lot of time in the gym.

Now you may be wondering, as a personal trainer wouldn’t I just suggest that people find a trainer right away? Well, yes. I think working with a trainer is absolutely important when you have a goal in mind and need one-on-one targeted attention, designed to get you to a specific place at your level. But I also think group fitness is valuable for getting in some workouts each week. I often assign “group fitness homework” to my clients in addition to the sessions we have together.

So let’s get to it …

How to maximize your results in group fitness classes by Ashley Pitt

How to maximize your results from group fitness classes

  1. Show up early to class and introduce yourself to the instructor. If you’re new, tell the instructor that you’re new and let him/her know if you have any limitations and need special modifications. This is nothing to be embarrassed about and the instructor will appreciate the fact that you came forward. That advice will help you perform better throughout class. This will also let the instructor know that they can make eye contact with you and offer suggestions as needed throughout the class. Even if you’ve been going to a class for a while, it’s always good to steal away the instructor’s time before or after class and let them know more about you and your fitness level. It will ultimately help you get more out of the class.
  2. Stand toward the middle of the room, so you have clear view of the instructor. But don’t stand in front facing the mirror and only look at yourself. Although you want to monitor your form every once in a while in the mirror, it’s more important to watch the instructor as they demo the moves. If you go in the back, you may have trouble seeing the instructor’s full body. While you may think it’s easier to follow the person in front, make sure you always look to the instructor first as the model of correct form. And of course, don’t ever worry about comparing yourself to your fellow class participants, because it’s not a competition.
  3. Listen to the instructor’s coaching cues and tips and make adjustments to yourself. While you want to make sure you move with the group, don’t just focus on “looking the part” but also make sure you have all the basics covered for your form, which are the little things that the instructor will be reminding you throughout class. That means you have your heels grounded if told to do so, and are pulling your shoulders back and bracing your core at all times. These small adjustments are sometimes hard to see, but they make a world of difference in the benefits you get from exercise moves. The instructor coaches your set-up and movement patterns for a reason, so be sure to listen and adjust.
  4. It’s okay to stop and take a breather when you need to. If you’ve never done the class before, there’s no shame in taking a break. Breathe, grab water, regroup and go back in. And if the class is particularly hard, feel free to leave halfway through, but make sure you stretch and cool-down properly on your own. The next time you attend class, go for longer than you did the first time until you build up to the whole class.
  5. Give a class at least three tries before you decide if it’s right for you. Honestly, it sometimes takes that long to understand the way a workout class operates, and you may find that the second and third time are much more enjoyable once you get the initial class out of the way.
  6. Don’t worry about anyone else and don’t be self-conscious. One of the number one things I encounter as an instructor and trainer is that people feel very worried they are being judged, and thus avoid classes or try to hide in the back. However, most people are so worried about their own performance in each workout, that they never bother to look around. I can assure you that no one is watching you to see how you do in your first class, other than the instructor if you’ve let them know you’re new (see #1). Just let loose and work hard. It’s okay, it’s just exercise.
  7. Ask questions and ask for help. No matter how long you’ve been going to a class, it’s okay to ask the instructor what you’re doing right and wrong and ask them to look out for you. Oftentimes classes are too full and busy for you to get personal attention, but seek out the advice of the instructor when you can to make sure you’re getting the most out of the moves. You may be making mistakes you don’t even know about, which can be fixed with a simple tweak.
  8. Workout on your own as well and be responsible for your own fitness. One of the biggest things I tell my clients is to be sure their body is prepared and ready for a group fitness class, as well as recovered after a class. That means you may need to stretch, foam roll and warm up more than is offered in the class setting, or you may need to continue stretching or cooling down after class, outside of the group fitness room. You will also want to make sure you have variety in your workout routine, and sometimes that requires solo workouts or sessions with a personal trainer, in addition to the classes you attend.
  9. Have fun with it. Group fitness is designed to be fun. There’s something about the setting of tons of people working in close proximity that helps you push yourself. So enjoy what you do, and if you’re not having fun in a class after a few times, try something else.

Group fitness is a great way to sweat and try new exercises you may not do on your own. While I always recommend that people meet with a personal trainer for at least a few weeks to get a fitness program ramped up, get advice on how to rehab an injury or to reach a goal, group fitness is always an easily accessible way to bridge the gap. So get out there and sweat, my friends!

 Stay in touch with Ashley

Thanks for reading. I’d love to hear from you and stay in touch on all things healthy living and fun. Here are some ways we can stay connected:

Now I’d like to open it up to you. What are some questions you may have for a personal trainer or group fitness instructor that you’d like to answer? And what’s your favorite class to take?

Keep in touch with me:
Twitter -> @dailycupofkate
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Instagram – > dailycupofkate
Bloglovin’ -> Daily Cup of Kate


  1. Thanks for letting me guest post today, Katie! I hope your wedding was amazing. 🙂

    • Full support for all these tips! Especially trying something 3 times, and introducing yourself to the instructor and going over any injuries! So important!!

  2. Love tip #5! Definitely try it 3 times…I remember feeling a little unsure after I took yoga for the first time, but after going 3-5 times, it felt much more natural! I’m sure with any other class I’d feel the same as well!

  3. These are great tips, Ashley! Especially the one about watching the instructor for proper form. Classes like Body Pump can be dangerous if you’re using the proper form so that is especially important.
    And also the one about feeling self-conscious. I used to try to convince one of my friends to try group fitness but she was always worried about what other people will think of her and it’s so not like that! Everyone is focused on themselves and if anything, simply feeding off of each others energy.

    Can you tell I love group fitness? haha.

  4. Preaching to the choir, Sarah!! I’m obsessed with group fitness. 🙂

  5. Showing up early for any class is important. You can meet the instructor, chat with other people in the class and get comfortable. Showing up late puts you at a huge disadvantage.

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