As a freshly minted group fitness instructor (and a longtime group fitness attendee), the most common questions I get asked after what class do I teach are, “What type of class is that?” and “Would I be able to do it?”

I get it: Trying a new fitness class or workout is both exciting and intimidating for most people. There are so many thoughts that rush through your head—but which questions should you ask yourself before you sign up for or take a class?

What type of class is it?

What format will you be taking? Is it a cycle class, a Pilates class, a weights class? Is it a format you think you’ll enjoy? (If you hate cardio, you probably won’t want to take a dance or Spin class—so don’t torture yourself by signing up.)

Many classes have short descriptions—either on the gym’s website or the class creator’s—so read up on the class format and familiarize yourself with what to expect during the class, so you feel prepared rather than surprised and overwhelmed. Doing a bit of research ahead of time will save yourself the trouble of committing to an hourlong format or walking out five minutes into the class and giving up on your workout altogether.

Am I physically ready and able to take this class?

Where are you in your fitness journey? Are you a seasoned gym-goer looking to push your limits or a workout newbie with zero gym experience?

Wherever you land on the spectrum, be honest with yourself and ask, “Am I physically able to do this format?” For example, if you have knee problems, you may want to choose a class that doesn’t require a lot of jumping or plyometric movements.

In short, make sure whatever class you choose is a workout you can do for the allotted class time without pain or unnecessary discomfort (though some discomfort is necessary in fitness to get faster, stronger and fitter). What you don’t want is to aggravate an old injury or sustain a new one.

What do I need to bring for this class?

Once you’ve selected the type of class you’re going to take, take a look at what the class requires so you know what you’re expected to bring. You should always bring water with you to rehydrate during and after class, but perhaps you’ll need a yoga mat for core exercises or push-ups on your knees, or a towel to mop your sweaty face. It also never hurts to pack a protein bar or baggie of almonds for quick post-class refueling.

What do I want to get out of this class?

Before you set foot in the group fitness studio, know why you’re there. Why did you commit to show up for an hourlong sweat session? What are you hoping to get from this class—stronger? Fitter? Faster? Leaner? Whatever your goal, make sure the class you choose is a helpful step toward that goal.

Am I ready to commit to this class?

One of the best things about group fitness is the group atmosphere (duh). But committing to working out as a group comes with a steep price: People recognize you when you show up and when you don’t.

If you commit to taking a regular group fitness class, get ready to be held accountable by your workout peers. Swap phone numbers, encourage one another to show up and be there—you’re class and your Group X instructor will be so excited to see you consistently show up!

Photo credit: Lightfield Studios, Adobe Stock