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How to Survive Your First ...

Pilates, Yoga, Full Body Workout, Barre etc Class.

Hahaha, the title is a bit extreme but I think you can all relate. You can all remember that first time you signed up for a class or any activity / sport / education course not knowing if you would enjoy it, if it was what you were expecting, if it would be too easy or too hard.... you may have done some homework on the topic, chatting to people in the know, watching YouTube videos and reading different blogs, before signing up for it. No matter how prepared you felt in the lead up however, your experience would be directly linked to whether your needs and expectations were met.

Now if we look at a Fitness class (let's say Pilates) with people of different levels of fitness, strength, experience, how can you as a newbie expect to have your needs met going into an established class? Well my intention of this blog is to explain just that, so that you may feel a bit more comfortable as you venture into some new formats.

Today was our first one hour Pilates class on the schedule, and as I sat editing the video to put it up on the On Demand library (which will be ready next week), I was thinking about how I love that we can really layer the exercises in this class - I mean we do that in other classes as well but in Pilates there are so many additional levels that there is literally a level for everyone. What I mean by that is that we can start doing an exercise in the most basic version so that we can be aware of our body placement and things to look out for in order to make a decision to progress or not. This level is good for everyone of every level to be reminded on good body placement and what we are trying to achieve. Once we are comfortable at that level we can move it up to the next level and the next level and the next! Of course if you are on level 1 and wanting to stay there, that is perfect. Being aware of your needs and taking an option to meet your needs is the most perfect thing to do. Get the basics right first. But if you are advanced and wanting to progress it further there is always an option for you too. I've added a short video below demonstrating exactly this. This was during our class this morning - I've only shown three versions here but there were more options which you will read about below.

On the level 1 option there was a note to check out the caption for more modifications.

  1. Place your arms on the floor (the wider your arms the more support you give yourself - so even with your arms on the floor there are different levels of difficulty)

  2. Lowering your heels to the floor (to give you more balance)

  3. Placing your bottom on the floor

The great thing about modifications as well is that even if you are on level 3 for the first two rounds and then find you cannot keep going at that level, well then you drop to level 2, level 1 or one of the above modifications.

This means you literally mix and match your workout that at the end of the hour you finish feeling amazing because you got the right amount of challenge for you. You hear me say it a million times in class....'you need to workout at a level that is right for you TODAY' because every day your body does not feel exactly the same as it did the day before. But I digress....

The key is to listen to the modifications and progressions that are given in class - they are repeated often in case you missed it the first time, and also because I know there are many of you out there who want to jump into level three even if today you need a level 1. LOL, we've all been there and can get competitive with ourselves, but as the saying goes, 'you only get out what you put in' and that doesn't always mean that you need to go harder.

So this is all great if you are taking Pilates, Yoga, Full Body Workout or Barre, where there is more opportunity to give you different levels and talk through technique, however Zumba is different. Zumba is really fast paced so there is no time to give you loads of options. That is why Zumba is not necessarily for everyone. If you have two left feet but really want to dance, then you might want to look for a Zumba Gold class which is perfect for a beginner or those with mobility issues. However if you are ready to jump into a Zumba class, you will notice that there are still modifications given, but in a different way to the other types of classes.... have you ever seen in Zumba when we start a dance; that the first time we do one of the steps there will be no style to it and no arms. The second time there might be an arm and then after that we build in the flare. This is a type of layering however you may not always realize that. Basically by the third time that we are doing the step, you always can stick to the first variation of it and not progress.

Other ways that you can modify your Zumba class:

  • If there is a jump - bounce instead or wiggle your hips

  • If there is a turn - walk in the direction of the turn without turning

  • Focus on your feet and don't worry about the arms or the flare

  • If you get stuck, do your own little dance to keep your heart rate up, and join in when you can pick it up again

  • If you get tired, keep moving, don't stop completely, just march in place and have a water break until you can rejoin.

Did I cover everything? I feel like I did, but if you have any questions or comments you can add a comment to this blog.

Exercise to feel great in your mind, body and heart xoxo


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