Group exercise classes are accessible to all gym-goers, no matter their fitness level or age.

Between weight training, step aerobics and belly dancing, these classes offer

something for everyone! The problem is that one rude attendee can ruin the

group exercise experience for a room full of people. Instructors are trained to

demonstrate the right methods and techniques for the optimal workout,

but rarely do they go over the unspoken rules of the exercise room. No matter

the time, style and focus of the group exercise class you're attending, it's

important to learn a few basic rules for working out in a room full of people.

Front-Row Fiasco

If you're new to the group exercise class, don't get into

the front row. Exercisers in the back who may have only a partial view of the

instructor look to those in the front row for guidance on choreography and

form. In a weight

class, for example, people in the front row are expected to

demonstrate proper use of fitness equipment like barbells and exercise bands.

If you're going to take up a prime spot right front of the teacher and block

other people's view, you owe it to the class to do the moves correctly. Another

reason to avoid the front row when you start out is that it can be dangerous.

Exercisers who make it through the crowds to the front row are usually

experienced in the group exercise class and know how to execute all of the

moves. They also assume that the rest of the front row is as experienced as

they are, which can spell trouble for a novice. Many standard aerobics classes call for quick changes in

direction and sudden shifts of movement. If you're still figuring out how to do a step that took place two counts

ago when the rest of the front row suddenly starts coming your way, you may be

in for a collision.

Stability and Safety

During spinning classes, exercisers remain in the same spot

as they pedal on a stationary bike,

so you won't have to worry about running into other people. Because spinning

involves simple moves like standing out of the bike seat and sitting back down,

it's not the worst thing in the world if you block someone's view of the

instructor. Just try not to plant

your bike directly in front of someone else's, unless you actually want that

cute guy behind you to check out your butt every time you do standing drills!

Free-weight Free-for-all

Many classes like spinning, ab toning and cardio weight

training don't require a lot of movement once you set up your station. Usually

a gym facility will have an adequate amount of stationary bikes and mats for basic

classes but not adequate numbers of the right kind of dumbbells for the cardio

weight training classes. This is

especially true when the weight-lifting is combined with cardio drills because

moves like this can only be done with lighter, 5- to 8-pound dumbbells.

If you arrive too late to the class you may be stuck struggling to lift 10- or

12-pounders while simultaneously trying to jump on and off of a step. Even if

you do arrive on time to a group exercise cardio weight training class, prepare

for a possible free-weight tug-of-war. Most exercisers know which dumbbells are

the most popular for a class and will make a beeline for the weight rack as

soon as they enter the aerobics room.

Learn the specific rules that govern your gym or health

club, and practice them. They are designed to promote safety and enjoyment for


Carry a towel with you at all times and wipe off equipment

after use.

Carry a plastic water bottle to keep yourself hydrated

during workouts, but avoid spilling or dribbling on the equipment.

Sign up for the use of cardiovascular equipment (such as

treadmills and stair-climbing machines) well in advance. During peak hours,

schedules are often posted with 15- to 20-minute intervals.

Accommodate others in the weight room. Allow people to work

in their sets with you if a line is forming for a specific machine. Offer to

reset weight and apparatus settings.

Return equipment to its proper place when you're finished

using it.

Be courteous and aware at all times to ensure enjoyable

visits to the gym.

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