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How to Conquer ‘Gymtimidation’ and Kick Butt at a Boutique Fitness Class

How to Be Alone

About How to Be Alone

This article is part of our guide on how to be alone in Washington, including secrets to flying solo, our favorite places to pause in solitude, and prominent Washingtonians on how they make time to be alone.

As the co-founder of FitReserve, a fitness app that gives customers access to passes at over 750 studios and gyms, Megan Smyth has built her business off of trying the newest classes in boutique fitness. Here are her seven tips for going solo at a daunting group fitness class.

Consider what kind of environment you want

If you have never done a boutique fitness class at all, it’s more about choosing something that you feel comfortable with and considering whether you want alone time or if you’re looking for more of a group social experience. If you really want to zone out for an hour, a meditation class may be a better bet. If you want more of a social experience, you may take a partner yoga class or boot camp class, where they pair you up with other people throughout the class.

Do your research to avoid ‘gymtimidation’

A lot of people are very intimidated when they work out, whether it’s walking into a gym or a small studio with a class. I think the best way to avoid what a lot of people call ‘gymtimidation’ is doing your research so you know what to expect: everything from what to wear and how long the class is to what you should bring. If you go in feeling prepared, you’ll feel more at ease and can avoid that feeling of anxiety of not knowing what to expect or what’s going to happen.

On the benefits of going solo

Fitness classes are an easy thing to do alone, but you are still surrounded by others, so you still have a social experience even if you’re going by yourself. I think that’s a huge draw. Part of the reason people like the boutique studios is that community feel and the feeling that you have other people around you who are all working towards a common goal. If you do a work out on your own, say on a treadmill at the gym, it’s very easy to stop your workout whenever you feel like it. But when you commit yourself to a class, you’re not likely to stop. You’re going to keep going because your classmates and the instructor are inspiring you to keep going and work harder.

“Part of the reason people like the boutique studios is that community feel and the feeling that you have other people around you who are all working towards a common goal…when you commit yourself to a class, you’re not likely to stop.” —Megan Smyth

What about finding a workout buddy?

Once you find a class instructor you enjoy, try attending that same class every week, and you are likely to start seeing some familiar faces. You can strike up a conversation after class when you are putting your equipment away, or in the locker room, or at the smoothie bar—talk about how much you enjoy the class, then you can make plans to attend other classes together in the future. Before you know it, you have a new workout buddy.

Type of classes are important

The great thing about fitness classes generally is that it’s really up to you. You’re not forced to talk to other people. I recently spoke to a member who said that they really like dance classes because trying to follow the routine helps them zone out. Even though you would think of a dance class as very social, for her, she found that’s it’s a very individual experience of her trying to concentrate on different things. I think it’s how you interpret it. Treadmill training classes are also becoming very popular: that’s an opportunity to zone out on a run.

Consider your instructor

Call the studios in advance and let them know that you’re new, then see if there are certain instructors that really cater to beginners, that way, you’ll feel very welcome and comfortable when you get in the class. You definitely want to avoid the more advanced classes or any classes that require prerequisites to make sure you’re at the right level. There are some instructors that tend to have more intense classes and some tend to be a little bit more beginner-friendly. I think it’s also part of the mindset: some instructors facilitate more cross activity and communication between members, whether it’s everyone counting together in class or things like that, and some cater to a more individual experience. It’s all about finding the right fit.

Know the time

Generally the morning classes, the before-work classes, and the right-after-work classes, and then around 10 am on the weekends, tend to be the busier classes. For your first time, you may not want to attend a super-packed class, unless you are looking for that social experience. You may get a little bit more individualized attention midday or in off-peak times when the classes are less crowded. There is a lot of energy that comes along with a lot of people in the class, which can make it exciting.

This article appears in the November 2018 issue of Washingtonian.

Assistant Editor

Hayley is an Associate Editor at Washingtonian Weddings. Previously she was the the Style Editor at The Local Palate, a Southern food culture magazine based out of Charleston, South Carolina. You can follow her on instagram @wandertaste.