Post # 1
So I go to a “circuit blast” class for the first time in like 2 years. I had a baby, lost the weight easily, breastfed for 14 months, continued to eat like I was breastfeeding for the past 8 months even though I wasn’t, and now I need to lose 5-10 pounds.
During this class I had a frustration that was kind of specific to me: I have an old wrist injury that means I can’t do push-ups or mountain climbers, or bear walks, or burpees, or anything that involves putting my body weight on my wrist with palm flat. It’s not a common injury, so I don’t expect that instructors should have everything already modified for me or anything. But when I can only do 2 of the class’s activities without any modifications, it starts to feel like I’m not welcome in the class. And if I tell the instructor when she notices that I’m not doing an exercise, she checks in with me every time we do something new, which makes me feel like I’m being babied and micromanaged. She also started announcing suggested modifications in front of the whole group, which I found less invasive. I felt a little vindicated when I noticed that everyone but 2 were doing the modified version of the exercise toward the end of the class.
Why do instructors have to act like drill sergeants? Do they think it’s motivating? When I’m in a class I feel like I’m already pushing myself as hard as I’m comfortable being pushed. Anything more from the instructor is annoying at best, insulting and guilt-inducing at worst.
Why is every fitness class I’ve ever been to so hard it’s not enjoyable unless you’re so in shape you don’t really need to go to the class?
It makes me feel like I can’t or won’t ever find any physical activity enjoyable for its own sake. It will always be only a means to an end, medicine I force myself to take. And that’s not likely to be very sustainable.
Am I the only one who feels this way sometimes?
Post # 2
This is exactly why I spin! You can work at your own pace and intensity. My favorite teacher (who happens to be my boss from 8-5) always says, “This is your ride! I’m just here to make suggestions!” I am in such better shape than before I started and I only kill myself in class if I want to!
Post # 3
marjojo: I just wanted to chime in and say I completely agree with your rant on instructors! The only fitness class I will go to is yoga for that very reason. I hear horror stories of people puking during a fitness class because they are pushing so hard, why??? I don’t like personal trainers for the same reason, but I understand that they really do care about clients and think about what is best for the individual client. I just don’t want anyone telling me how hard I should work. I feel for you!
Post # 4
I personally love classes that kick your ass, it’s the whole point! Especially if it’s your first time, it will get easier if you keep it up. I don’t enjoy the traditional circuit stuff though- Pilates, barre!, power yoga are my favorites. I love classes and drill sargeant instructors and really pushing myself. That’s how change happens (or so they yell at me in barre when I’m ready to keel over). And with modifications- you should always explain injuries and let them give you options, that’s their job, nothing to be embarrassed about.
Post # 5
I definitely think it all just comes down to taste. I am like you–I do NOT want to be yelled at or “yelled” at or motivated or whatever. It just makes me feel crappy and want to go home!!
But fortunately, there are people who like that stuff, and people who don’t, and activities for both sets of people!
You might try yoga or Zumba. Or just try weightlifting–maybe get a personal trainer for a few sessions. Or what about running? Then it’s just you, your music/podcast/whatever, and the road!
Also, I sometimes deal with wrist pain from ganglion cysts, and I sometimes can’t do a lot of the movements that you mentioned. A lot of them you can modify either by going on your forearms or staying up on your fingertips so that your wrist doesn’t actually bend. Not sure if that would work for you, but I thought I’d share!
Post # 6
Needing modifications makes me feel conspicuous and inept. It brings back this feeling of being an anxious middle-schooler, sure everyone is staring at me because I look weird. Sure it’s the instructor’s job, but that doesn’t make it any less embarrassing.
Obviously it’s the point to work hard when you’re working out or it’s a waste of time. I think it takes a certain amount of confidence to enjoy having someone else push you. You have to be sure that you’ll be able to do whatever they’re trying to get you to do. If you’re not confident, it’s the opposite of motivating.
Yoga is another thing I can’t do because of my wrist injury. I can’t do downward dog or plank or anything that involves my hands on the floor bearing my weight.
Post # 7
I’m not really sure why you wouldn’t tell the instructor before class begins if you’re going to require modifications? A fitness instructor isn’t a mind reader. I get where you’re coming from, because I also have limitations, but I never feel like I don’t belong just because I have to do something a little differently.
Not all fitness instructors are created equal, not all activities are going to be something you like. Sometimes you have to search around.
And as for it not being enjoyable if you’re not in shape? The whole point is that it’s supposed to be hard. That’s what gets you into better shape. If you don’t enjoy the act of pushing yourself, you’re not alone, but the fact is that a good fitness class will be designed to push you.
Post # 8
Also, I recommend swimming. You go at your own pace, and it’s non-weight bearing so it’s great for any kind of injury.
Post # 9
Did you ever do physio for your wrist injury? It might be too late now – but you ought to be able to strengthen it at least a bit with supervised exercise and stretching.
Post # 10
“But when I can only do 2 of the class’s activities without any modifications, it starts to feel like I’m not welcome in the class” It’s not about not being welcome, it’s about whether that class really suits you with your injury. I would suggest trying other classes until you find one you like more. But I do wonder whether you were feeling a bit sensitive, especially on your first time back.
Post # 11
I didn’t talk to the instructor before hand because you never know how many modifications are going to be necessary with a new class. And because I have some body shame and honestly just don’t want to draw any attention to myself when exercising at all. It’s nice if you don’t feel like you don’t belong just because you have to do something a little differently, but for someone who never felt like she belonged in the first place, being conspicuous in any way is counterproductive to any efforts to self-motivate and be positive. So, yeah, obviously I was feeling sensitive. I’ll own that. But so what? I wish more fitness classes were sensitive to the insecurities of people just starting out exercising. Instead, they operate on the assumption that everyone can do these super advanced moves, and it’s enough to make someone who’s out of shape just want to give up.
Oh, yeah, I did lots of physical therapy for my wrist. After I was done with the PT, I took a yoga class and it swelled up. I went to see the doctor that operated on my wrist, and he said I shouldn’t do the things that agravated it, and if I pushed it, I might get arthritis or something. He said it was never going to be back to 100% of where it was. And at the particular class I went to, people with normal wrists were complaining about how all the exercises put a lot of stress on their wrists.
And if this class isn’t appropriate for me because of my injury, then that means there are only 2 classes a week at my gym that fit my schedule, instead of 4. And I can’t switch gyms because this is the only one on my side of town that provides child care. So if I can’t go to this class because of my wrist issues, then my chances to go to classes are cut in half, essentially.
Post # 12
marjojo: I know how you feel. I feel like a complete fool when I take classes which is why I never go because I have no one to go with and it seems like there is already a group that the instructorsknow. You can definitely tell who has been going for a wwhile. They always tell you to take breaks if you need but it just seem hard. I am all about proper form so when they say do this and I don’t know what I am doing I feel stupid. I just don’t bother.
Post # 13
marjojo: Time permitting a good instructor will take the time to wander around to participants before the class and discreetly ask whether they have any injuries they should know about for exactly the reasons you mentioned…. lots of people in the gym are self concious for all different sorts of reasons. I hope this doesn’t put you off the class altogether
Post # 14
marjojo: that sucks! 🙁
all I can tell you is the reason those instructors know the group of ladies who go is because they are there every week. If you go five more times, you will be one of those ladies, and part of that group! Hang in there on the two classes you CAN go to, and see if you can call in advance regarding the wrist issues; talking to the instructor over the phone may be slightly less body shame inducing?
Post # 15
I have a really hard time find something suitable. I need someone to hold me back, not push me. I like to exercise, but I have to stick with the easier end of moderate exersion or else I can have major issues. There is so little out there, especially as what’s moderate to me changes based on so many factors.
I have found that many places will let you just watch a class if you ask. I have found that to be useful, there are some things I was interested in, but I probably would have had serious health issues afterwards as after watching the whole thing I realized while each part looked ok, overall it would have been too much.
Asking to observe also gives you the opportunity to discuss any injuries or other concerns you have way in advance, and you may also see how something like this is handled in the class when it isn’t personal to you.