Motivating yourself to your fitness class

The 7 Phases Of Starting A New Fitness Class

The pain and the struggles are balanced by the success of making it through a class.

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I am fortunate enough to live close to one of my former college roommates and someone who is, furthermore, one of my closest friends. We found each other to be good partners in the gym and started working out together. She recently tested that friendship by getting me to join this particularly difficult core and body-sculpting fitness class with her.

I'm kidding. But, really, I struggled in that class like no other, and the surrounding chorus of grunts and huffs confirmed that I wasn't alone in that experience. At the end of the day (although definitely not at the end of that one), I'm glad I pushed myself further and actually had a good time.

Starting workout and fitness classes can be the worst, especially if you know no one else there. Thankfully, I had my friend, but I still felt most of the symptoms of experimenting with new classes and gyms. In particular, I felt the phases one usually goes through when starting a new fitness program. The struggle, as always, was real.

1. Taking in the other people there

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Walking into a new class is intimidating on the first day of school or, even, in college lecture halls. But, add buff fitness buffs and 20-pound weights to the mix, and the whole thing can be a bit overwhelming.

I generally avoid set classes for working out for the very reason that I get nervous working out in such close proximity to other people, especially other fit people. I felt happy this time because of my friend and the general openness of the other students. In general, though, this part adds the most pressure.

2. Immediately loving your trainer's vibe

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When my trainer walked in, I immediately felt like I was in the most capable hands. This isn't usually always the case, but if the trainer doesn't make me feel comfortable, the rest of the phases below usually don't happen anyways.

There's something about someone about to be impossibly happy about the worst kind of pain and physical exertion that brings me comfort. I don't know about you, but trainers that smile through the struggle are the best kind.

3. Wondering what all the fuss is about

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The biggest element that throws me off at the start of a class is the dynamic stretching. I'm led through a false sense of security before the real mayhem begins. I always find myself, somewhere around the halfway point of a fitness class, hating the start-of-class-me for being so naive.

4. Realizing what all the fuss is about

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Like I said, eventually the "work" part of the workout kicks in and my arms turn into jelly doughnuts. I get exhausted from the constant changes in the workout, and in particular, I start getting angry at the peppiness. My anger is uncalled for and I generally end up regretting it by the time I get to stretching.

5. Trying to both breath and see your form in the mirror

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There's a point in the workout when I get serious. I start checking my form and making the corrections that I need to make. My favorite kind of trainers are the ones that walk around and make minute changes to forms and positions. I was lucky enough to have one of those this class, but trying to both succeed and survive became a trying battle.

6. Stretch while feeling your body go into a different dimension

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Stretching is golden. Stretching is bliss. Stretching is golden bliss.

I always imagine myself to have gone through some rigorous ballet program in the last hour (which included my trying to clench everything to stay up during a 30-second plank). Then, the stretching allows me to truly reveal my graceful form.

In reality, I look like a mediocre dancer who started taking classes out of necessity for their cousin's wedding. Either way, it feels awesome.

7. Feel a strange urge to come back the next week

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Like I said, by the end of the class, I felt awesome and truly felt like coming back. The entire class is a rollercoaster with wildly swinging emotions.

I am excited to go back the next week and push my physical ability further. But, I also know that I'll be seriously craving a sofritas bowl and a nap immediately after. And, really, is that so wrong?

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12 Unhealthy College Habits That Never Should Have Become Normalized

No, you shouldn't have to pull an all-nighter to pass every exam.

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College is a weird time in our lives, but it doesn't have to be bad for our health. Here are some trends I've seen on social media and watched my friends practice that really never should have become a "thing" for college students in the first place.

1. The "freshman 15."

Everyone has heard of the dreaded "freshman 15," where college freshmen gain 15 pounds because of access to all-you-can-eat dining halls. Rather than eating healthier options at the dining halls or, you know, only eating until you're full and not stuffing yourself, we've just accepted our fate to gain what's really a large amount of weight. Not a very healthy mindset.

2. Eating only junk food because we're "too poor" to buy real food.

For off-campus students, the theme is ramen and peanut butter & jelly sandwiches. This is really not how it needs to be. You can buy a bunch of romaine lettuce for around $1 at the grocery store I go to in my college town, and other produce like broccoli, potatoes, and apples are always cheap. Shop sales and keep your pantry stocked on staples like dry pasta, rice, beans, and other canned vegetables. It's not that expensive to eat decently.

3. Gorging on food at the dining hall just because you can.

This is what leads to the freshman 15. Just because you can eat whatever you want doesn't mean you should.

4. Procrastinating EVERYTHING.

I'm always ahead of my schoolwork, but all of the people in my classes push things right down to the wire. It creates unnecessary stress. Just get things done in advance so you don't have to worry.

5. Being generally unorganized and struggling to keep your life together. 

Actually using my planner is one of the best things I've done for myself in college so far. I don't know why it became popular for college students to be a hot mess all the time, but again, do what you can to avoid putting unnecessary stress on yourself.

6. Pulling all nighters, ever.

If you don't understand it by midnight, you won't understand it any better by five in the morning. You'll do so much better with less studying and more sleep than the other way around. Take the L and go to bed.

7. Waiting until the very last minute to start studying for your finals.

This is what typically leads to the aforementioned all-nighters. If you have an exam in two weeks, start studying NOW. Give yourself time to figure out what you need to focus on and get in contact with your professor or a tutor if necessary. Do yourself the favor.

8. Getting blackout drunk Friday and Saturday night...every weekend.

A lot of college students like to drink. That's fine, I get it, college is stressful and you just want to have a good time. But you don't have to go out every night of every weekend and drink so much you don't remember anything that didn't occur between Monday-Friday every week. Give yourself a break from drinking every so often.

9. Getting iced coffee before class and being late because of it.

I always make sure I get to campus early if I plan to get Starbucks, which I often do. It's rude to come in late, and it's detrimental to your education to consistently miss class. Your coffee can wait if you're running late. Plan better next time.

10.  Committing to 10 different extracurriculars because "it'll boost your resume if you have more on it!"

If you only participate in one club where you're the head of marketing and the treasurer, that will look SO much better than if you participated in five clubs but were just...there for all of them. Excel in one thing rather than being mediocre in many.

11.  Skipping class whenever you feel like it.

You can take the occasional mental health day, but if you're just being lazy, you're only hurting yourself. Go to class. You're paying a lot of money for it, after all.

12.  Spending every last penny you have to go somewhere for spring break (Daytona Beach, anyone?).

"Broke" college kids always end up taking the most extravagant spring break vacations. I'm sure it's fun and you'll cherish the memories, but wouldn't you cherish that $500 more if you saved it for things you actually need rather than living off of ramen for a month when you get home?

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Keeping A Journal Handy Keeps Me From Forgetting My Eventful Past

Also, it's genuinely the best way to get out pent up emotions.

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Time is flying by so quickly, and it's so difficult to keep track of every little event I'm a part of. At the same time, though, I find myself sitting at my desk wide awake every Saturday at midnight just writing in a journal about the past week.

Who did I see? How did I feel? What did I accomplish?

Even the most minute of details becomes the most important topic in the world, and I find myself enthralled in memories now immortalized in a notebook. The moment in which I'm writing as much as I can remember is peaceful, and I think that I am most at home when it's the middle of the night and no one can disturb the flow of thoughts.

After all, the purpose of having a journal is to expose one's future to reminders of the past otherwise unforgotten. One of my essays from eighth grade is wedged between two pages in an older book of mine, and when I stumbled upon it just a few weeks ago, I spent the next hour dissecting every little feeling I could remember from the time when I wrote that piece.

There's something amazing about having a journal to presently write in and eventually look back upon with open ears and listening eyes. There's something magical about being able to recount the tirade of feelings I experienced three, four years ago even now. It's as if I've envisioned a pathway to walk down (some would call "Memory Lane"), and I can find myself walking down that road at any given time.

In freshman year, I would spend an hour every day of the weekend just writing. About anything and everything that came to mind, only as long as the pen I was holding wasn't lifting itself off the paper. The amount of vivid description I put into every nit-picky part of my day was astonishing to read. I didn't want to forget anything, and I thought I could avoid forgetting by telling my future self what I knew.

Recollecting plain information, whether it be facts and figures or charts and data, can seem mundane, something one is unable to relate to and therefore "care" about, but recollecting emotions is putting on those same shoes one wore in a previous time and revisiting a slew of old memories.

It's embarrassing sometimes to find little mistakes in my writing or little places in which I attempted to sound profound but ended up sounding paranoid, but that characterized who I was as a writer back then (and maybe even today). Because I have journals full of pages and pages of sketches and words and feelings, I know who I used to be. I can remember who I was two years ago because of a journal entry from January 2017.

There was a day in sophomore year when I realized that high school was meant to be stressful, not a carefree adventure. I wrote down everything I felt that day, down to the sound of the bell ending the school day. And when I sat there a month ago and reread everything I had poured out, I laughed to myself, thinking that this rude awakening I had been ranting about was just the beginning.

It's comical and heartbreaking at the same time to sit through a journal written so long ago, but I think it's all worth it. The weeks are counting down as this school year is coming to a close, and while I spend all my time ranting aloud about how stressed I am, my true emotions only show up on the pages of my journal. Safe to say, I feel more at peace knowing that there's someone in the future going through this journey with me.

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