COLUMN | Overcoming fitness class fears

LovePilates Group 1
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Pauline Caswell, is the owner of Love Pilates Wirral. Pauline is a skilled 2nd Generation teacher with a direct lineage to Joseph Pilates. She’s also a qualified teacher of Education in Biology, Psychology, Science & Health. Her practice is about helping people to feel good about movement and the body they live in, whatever their lifestyle, age or ability.

Fitness class fears…

You walk through the door and scan the room…

Is there space at the back? Have I got here at the right time? Am I wearing the right gear? Am I doing this right? This was a mistake!

Group fitness classes can have a profound impact on our psychology. Can you remember the first time you tried one? Are you attending one already and still experiencing the same thoughts? Whether we sense it or not, attending group fitness classes creates differing levels of anxiety for everyone but when was the last time you heard: “Did you see that new person at Pilates last night? “They were so ‘NEW looking’ it was awful!” Chances are, everyone else in the class doesn’t care and your choice of leggings will have been forgotten within 10 seconds. However, your own senses stay heightened which then sets the tone for whether you are likely to return the following week.

If you continue returning, it’s likely to be well worth the effort, and the following explains why:

Accountability. Paying to join a group exercise class creates an immediate sense of commitment and a feeling of responsibility to turn up. You have expressed your commitment to a third party and they will notice if you don’t show up. The more often you attend, the stronger the sense of accountability grows and you’re more likely to make it a habit.

Perceived effort. It’s no wonder struggles are often referred to as “lonely”. Research suggests that people exercising within a group perceive their efforts to be less strenuous and more enjoyable than if they exercise alone. If we enjoy something and it doesn’t feel like too much effort, we are more likely to make it a habit.

Group support. Members of a group support one another which generates a sense of community and encouragement. You’re more likely to complete that last set of exercises when you are part of a group than being alone where no-one notices if you dart off early.

Motivation. When you are exercising within a group you are interacting socially. This boosts your motivation and generates feelings of camaraderie. Social interactions create a sense of community and belonging, integral aspects of our sense of identity, adding to the chances you are likely to commit to regular exercise, and you guessed it…habits!

Finally, and most importantly, the two biggest factors in whether your choice of fitness class will become that “ride or die” relationship, is the teacher and the environment that your teacher creates for the group. It’s not just about the atmosphere in the room and the interactions that happen in that space. A good fitness class teacher makes it about you, not them. They will make you feel included and valued.

Despite the 21st century digital lifestyle we all lead, homo sapiens have not quite lost their evolutionary instincts. If your instinct tells you everything is okay, this sends a signal to the nervous system that we are safe. It’s in these environments where we can really accomplish goals and gain all the benefits of a group fitness class. Trust your instincts and quiet the doubts whether your push up is right or wrong or your leggings were the right choice and instead, just enjoy it – because nobody else actually cares.

For further information, to join a community class or book a private studio session visit: