If you’re like me (or many of the people I’ve met in the fitness world), your path to group fitness wasn’t a straight one. I didn’t always participate in group fitness—in fact, the idea used to intimidate me:
I don’t know anything about yoga. What will everyone think when I don’t know how to do a pose?
I can’t follow all of the right steps in the Body Fusion class! I’m going to look silly!
I don’t have the stamina to do all the core work in Piltes—what will the instructor think of me when I have to take a break in the middle of class?
So, I put it off. Don’t get me wrong: I’ve always loved to move. But the idea of doing it with others intimidated me. That’s why I had historically been a jogger/runner. It was a way to move alone—without the pressure of others “judging” me.
At the beginning of the pandemic in the spring of 2020, I made a personal fitness goal: to run a marathon. I had only ever run a 10k, and that was before having a baby, so I was definitely not your typical “marathon runner,” but in the midst of the bleak and scary spring of 2020, I needed a personal goal. I lived right on a trailhead—so marathon it was.
I didn’t know much about training for a marathon, so I downloaded the first training schedule I found online and started running 3-4 times a week. I wasn’t doing any cross training, so by the time I started getting into 10+ mile runs my body was starting to feel it.
I began to deal with joint pain in my knees on even my short running days. I was worried I might have to give up on my personal goal. A friend of mine (who is a BA yoga instructor) suggested I come to some of her hot classes. She told me the heat and movement could really help complement all the pressure running was putting on my joints.
“Plus, to be a good runner, you have to have a strong core,” she told me. So, I decided the health of my body was worth the potential embarrassment of messing up in front of a classful of sweaty strangers. I signed up for my first-ever hot yoga class.
And I was hooked.
The warmth of the room, the slow pace of the movements, the sneaky intensity of the workout—it was all so different from my running—a break I didn’t know I needed. And, as the strength in my core grew, I was able to push through old running goals, and survive my long runs with much less pain in my joints. And perhaps best of all, I didn’t feel judged at all! In fact, I found a fitness community. Maybe even a fitness family.
I finished my race—something I would not have been able to do without hot yoga. And ever since my race day, I’ve spent more hours in the hot room than on the trails. I do still run, but now fitness classes are what keep me moving most.
The “group” part of “group fitness” was what kept me at bay for so long, but it’s what’s kept me moving now that I’ve joined. I’ve met some of my best friends through movement, and I’m sure my fitness journey will continue connecting me to amazing people for the rest of my life.
I’m just so grateful to be a part of a community that inspires movement, goal-reaching, and pushing through the “hard” to achieve what once felt impossible. While running alone was rewarding, it was much easier to give up without the accountability of a group. In group fitness, my body surprises me in every class I take. With the support of a room full of movers, I’m able to reach (and even shatter) personal goals.
One of the things I’ve heard said around the BA studios is that what you achieve on your mat can be taken out into the world to help you achieve all of your goals. For me, the initial goal was finishing my marathon. But since then, I’ve seen what I’ve learned on the mat applied to other areas of my life too.
So, if you’ve been putting group fitness off out of fear (like I was), give it a try! You just might need group fitness more than you know.