You waltz into your favorite workout studio, prepped for an amazing sweat session and proud that you made it there with minutes to spare. Then, a frantic realization ruins your mood: you accidentally signed up for the advanced class, and you are not ready for it.
Raise your hand if you can relate. All of a sudden, your exercise routine has turned into a giant mess of stress.
Do you leave? Do you stay and push through? Will this result in an injury? We chatted with two workout instructors for their take on this predicament.
Staying or leaving is ultimately up to you, but one piece of advice was unanimous off the bat: introduce yourself to the instructor before class starts.
"If you decide to stay, I would inform the instructor so they can keep an eye out and guide you through the class in a safe manner," Emily Fayette, a certified personal trainer and FlyWheel instructor, said.
Candace Taylor, an instructor at 305 Fitness, added that speaking with your instructor is the best thing you can do for yourself and your workout.
"It may seem like the right move to hide, but a great instructor will hear you out and will find ways to guide you through class in a way that meets you at your fitness level," she said. Taylor added that your instructor will likely provide modifications and encouragement based on your concerns and watching your performance.
Don't ignore what your body is telling you in class, though. No matter the level of workout class, it's especially crucial that you pay attention to cues of discomfort. Listening to your body will also help you determine if you're ready to work a little harder.
"Be mindful of how your body responds to different moves," Taylor said.
"How we feel in the moment should be our gauge for pushing through or pulling back in a workout. Do you have sharp pains in a particular area of your body? It might be wise to take a break. Are you winded or do your arms feel like they might fall off from fatigue? Try pushing yourself another 15 to 30 seconds before taking a break to experience the physical gain you get when you exert yourself past what you think is the limit of your capacity."
If you're in a dance class, Taylor suggested bite-size goals. Instead of focusing on acing the entire routine, focus on getting the footwork down.
"Finding a smaller sub-goal that will give you less to focus on at once will make the class more manageable and still ultimately help you improve and grow!" Taylor said.
Perhaps you're in a spin class? Fayette said to utilize the ranges your instructor is calling out.
"I love spin classes, because even if you are entering an advanced ride, you can always alter your resistance or speed to something that is comfortable/challenging for you," Fayette explained.
"I know as an instructor that I am going to have many riders at different levels, which is why I explain that my ranges are a goal. However, sometimes you will be above my ranges, and sometimes you will be below them. Be proud of where you are today!"
You should also be mindful of the difference between your body and your mind telling you to stop.
"In the beginning of each class or session, I tell my riders and athletes that at some point their mind is going to start talking back — negative thoughts will roll through their heads," Fayette said.
"That is not the time to stop or quit. It is the time to power through and break down the wall. Ask yourself: is it your mind that wants to stop or your body? If it is your mind, then you can let your body power through. If it is your body, then you check in and alter the workout."
Perhaps one solution you've turned to in the past was simply bowing out early from an advanced class. That's fine, right?
The simple answer is yes — you do you. However, Taylor recommended having an exit plan so you don't interrupt others in the class.
"Maybe you grab a spot in the back row or by the door when you need to dip out early. Or, try aiming to leave class in one of the natural transition moments to not be a distraction. In group classes, community and class environment is so important for a positive experience, so it's just something that I try to be mindful of when I am taking class."