When I was contemplating joining a gym many moons ago, studio classes were what sealed the deal for me—and my wallet. The idea that I could show up after a long day of work and have someone play upbeat, motivating music and tell me exactly what moves to do to get the most out of my workout session sounded like a dream. No pre-planning my reps or sets, or prepping a playlist (which takes valuable time), or standing in the weights area waiting for my turn on the leg-press machine. Instead, I could go to class, get in a great sweat and make some friends along the way.

Funny enough, taking group fitness classes is what made inspired me to become a group fitness instructor. I now teach two classes a week and take many more because I still love the group fitness environment. So of course, when I missed my 8 a.m. Saturday morning BODYPUMP class one weekend, I decided to try out a later-in-the-day virtual version of the class at a nearby facility.

Every once in a while, though, I still take virtual studio classes at my local gym. Below are a few things you might find useful to know before jumping into virtual classes.

Your class, your workout

Virtual studio classes are scheduled to play automatically on the display in your club’s GX studio, in between live classes. You follow the instructor on screen as he or she demonstrates movement, complete with great music tracks and some coaching, too. The beauty of virtual studio classes is that when there isn’t a scheduled virtual or live class, you can still take a virtual class—just choose from any of those listed on the screen outside the studio.

You’re welcome to join in if someone else has selected  a virtual class and it’s in progress. And of course, ask first before you change a class that your fellow club member is doing.

Show up on time

A virtual class won’t wait for you to begin. Some instructors will take the class “temperature” and wait an extra minute or two to start the class (if members are still setting up, walking in, grabbing water, etc.). However, these classes start promptly and there aren’t any breaks. So be prepared to start on time and stop when the class is through. While you do have the option of changing the class, or restarting it if you come late (again, if you’re the only one in class), remember that the group fitness schedule is set, so you will still need to end on time before the next class is scheduled to begin.

Be familiar with the class/format

One main function of a live instructor is to help new participants understand the format and equipment needs for the class they’re about to take. If you are planning to take a virtual class, I would advise starting with one you’ve taken before with a live instructor. This way, you’ll know the basic class format, what equipment you may need, and you won’t wonder if you’re doing the moves correctly because you’ve already asked a live instructor those questions.

Be ready for you vs. you

Some people prefer a live instructor who will encourage you and push you to work your hardest and achieve your goals. Others prefer to channel their inner coach and that’s all they need; if that’s you, a virtual studio class is a great place to get in a workout.

It’s a judgment-free zone

OK, so technically, all group classes should be judgment-free zones. But if you need a little boost of confidence before you start something totally new, a virtual studio class lets you go through the paces and get acquainted with the moves ahead of time. And for days when you feel like a smaller class size, a virtual studio class can deliver. If you’re just not feeling your best, no one but you will ever need to know.

You’ll get a great workout

Last but certainly not least, just because there isn’t an in-person instructor leading the class doesn’t mean your workout will suffer. Video instructors are often world-class presenters of that format and they’re at the top of their game. They don’t stop the class, either, so there are no interruptions or distractions keeping them from completing their mission: to make every second of your workout count.

Whatever type of class you choose to attend, know that every workout is worth it—no matter how “good” or “bad” it may have felt. You’ll never regret doing a workout or a workout class, virtual or live, because each class gets you closer to achieving your goals, your way.

Find a virtual studio class at your local 24 Hour Fitness, or check out my experience taking this immersive virtual cycle class.