I almost quit my first fitness class when I was the only man in the room.  Now I take them regularly - they are the toughest workouts I have ever done.

I almost quit my first fitness class when I was the only man in the room. Now I take them regularly – they are the toughest workouts I have ever done.

  • After spending much of the lockdown exercising alone at home, I wanted to approach things differently.
  • I joined a gym and signed up for fitness classes. I was the only man in the room many times.
  • I wasn’t sure it was for me at first, but it’s the toughest workouts I’ve ever done.

As I head into my late 40s, staying in shape and maintaining a healthy lifestyle becomes more difficult. So when a new gym opened in my neighborhood late last year with heavily discounted opening deals, I decided to join.

I had joined several gyms in my life, but always found working out alone was quite boring, which affected my motivation. But this time around, I was determined to stick with it, so I decided to try something new: I decided to join group fitness classes.

In college, I used to just lift weights, but found out I didn’t like it

My college gym was a testosterone fest – it was full of young men bragging and bragging about their huge muscles. I definitely wasn’t Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, but I was lifting weights every day to fit in with the Bench Press Bros.

While the exercises I was doing worked to build some muscle on my previously small body, it wasn’t a pleasant experience for me, and as soon as I graduated college, I stopped going to the gym. .

While my wallet has trained over the years, my body hasn’t

After college, I seemed to go through the same cycle every few years.

I would buy a 12 month gym membership, lift weights for a few months, then lose interest and stop going. It is quite common; in fact, it’s something gyms rely on. Research from the Global Health and Fitness Association has shown that only about 18% of gym subscribers go to the gym regularly.

Having a gym membership that you don’t use is like throwing money away, and it’s a cycle I was determined to break. I knew I had to do something different and get into a new mindset.

After the lockdown at the start of the pandemic, I missed social interaction and decided to try a new fitness strategy

I live in Melbourne, Australia, and we reluctantly earned the world’s longest lockdown title at the start of the pandemic: 262 days, to be exact. This meant that I spent a lot of time at home and spent a lot of my time training alone in my house. Once the confinement was over, I returned to the gym with a new objective: I was going to do group fitness classes.

During the extended lockdown period, I had missed seeing other people and thought I would take a two-bird approach to exercising and having social interaction while I moved my body. I thought working with an instructor and a group of like-minded people would be more motivating.

I almost walked out of my first class because I felt like a fish out of water

The first class I signed up for was called “Body Sculpt,” and I didn’t know what to expect.

I walked into the fitness studio and almost came out. There was salsa music playing and the room was full of women with expensive yoga mats wearing their trendy Lululemon workout clothes. I, on the other hand, was wearing a baggy old t-shirt and shorts and hadn’t brought a water bottle, let alone a mat; I felt like everyone was looking at me, like I was an unwanted stranger. I was literally the odd one out.

The instructor, Milan, introduced himself and told me to borrow a gym mat from reception. With my lender in hand, I walked to the corner of the room in an attempt to make myself as rare as possible. Class started and Milan led a choreographed warm-up, the whole room moving in unison as I struggled, a beat or two behind each step.

Ash Jurberg and friends after taking a group fitness class at the gym

Jurberg and his friends after taking a group fitness class at the gym.

Courtesy of Ash Jurberg

With my two left feet and a lack of coordination, I felt uneasy and regretted my decision to stay. Dancing isn’t a skill I would list on any social version of a resume, but I continued with encouragement from Milan and others in the class.

I felt less masculine attending group fitness classes and knew I had to challenge that way of thinking.

After 45 minutes I was exhausted and most of my body ached. The class was part cardio, part weights and one of the toughest workouts I’ve ever done. Still, I felt uncomfortable being the only man. Was I somehow less masculine for choosing this style of training? And if not, why were there no other men in the class?

Although I felt great after my first class, I still wasn’t sure if it was for me. The truth is that there are many outdated stereotypes when it comes to group fitness classes. People still have visions of spandex-clad instructors like the inimitable Jane Fonda and Richard Simmons leading groups of women in sync to the music of Olivia Newton-John, urging people to get physical.

Perhaps that’s why nearly 80% of the 1,500 group fitness participants surveyed between 2016 and 2018 by Statista were women. If you do a Google image search for “group exercise”, photos showing groups of women will come up one after another. Even if these images linger, I couldn’t ignore the fact that I really enjoyed my time in “Body Sculpt”.

You can stop the music – there is a wide variety of group fitness classes

On leaving, Milan asked me if I was coming back. I looked a little unsure, so he suggested I try high-intensity interval training, or HIIT, later that week; as an incentive, he told me there was no music. I was determined to break old habits, so I agreed.

Two days later, true to Milan’s word, there was no dancing in the class – but again, I was the only male in the room. However, many participants had also been part of my first class and they welcomed me warmly. I gave an embarrassed smile and warmed up to them.

The HIIT class lasted an hour and was incredibly exhausting. But Milan provided encouragement and good structure, ensuring all parts of the body were worked while maintaining form, and the intensity increased as the 60 minutes progressed. I couldn’t remember working so hard when I was a Bench Press Bro!

It’s an empowering workout, which has improved my mindset about exercise and makes me feel like part of a team.

Over the next few weeks, I added more and more group fitness classes to my exercise routine. Some involved music and others were on the gym floor. In each of them, I was always the only man present.

I’ve always found training alone boring. It’s easy to find an excuse to sleep or watch Netflix instead of hitting the gym alone. But having a group class in my schedule gives me motivation and a sense of anticipation. It makes me feel like part of a team and the variety of group classes means I don’t get as bored as when I was just lifting weights. There is a psychological reason for the extra motivation I had. Research has shown that exercising with other people provides intrinsic motivation.

As I attended a few weeks of classes, I began to get used to the routine, the choreography, and the team mentality. I moved on from perceived embarrassment or shame at being the only male in my class, and learned that there was no reason for it. Now, almost a year later, I look forward to seeing the other members of my group again and we encourage each other to push harder during class. There is no competition focused on lifting or doing more reps, only a supportive environment. I feel like I have a group of personal trainers who all help push me.

I never thought I would be the kind of person who would look forward to hitting the gym six days a week – but thanks to group classes, I am. According to the Global Fitness Report 2021, live classes are the most popular gym activity, and it’s a shame that many men are deprived of it.

I may be the only man in the group fitness class, but it’s better than working out alone or not going at all. I am fitter and more motivated than I have ever been. Now I just need to work on my dance moves.

#quit #fitness #class #man #room #regularly #toughest #workouts

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *