Three minutes into my workout class yesterday morning, I knew I shouldn’t be there. I had been pushing myself every day (sometimes twice a day) for two weeks straight, and I realized almost immediately the intense HIIT class I had signed up for was not a good idea. My body was telling me that I needed to GTFO and give it a much-needed break, but I was too worried about offending the trainer—and, okay, looking like a quitter—to get up the guts to walk out.
This turned out to be a big mistake on my part, because over the course of 45 minutes, I fell off my riser, pulled something in my hip, and tweaked my knee. As I hobbled home, I cursed myself for not doing what I knew I needed to do for the sake of my body. “Never again,” I promised myself. And then, I set on a mission to find out what the best practice would be the next time I found myself in this situation.
“Listen to your body! It’s never rude,” says Lauren Kleban, creator of LEKFit. “Just let the instructor know you aren’t feeling it today, but you’re okay.” Fithouse trainer Tiffani Robbins echoes the sentiment of “listen to your body,” and notes that if you don’t want to stop your trainer in the middle of class to let them know why you’re peace-ing out, you should stop by the front desk so that they can relay the message to the trainer.
Obviously, if you are going to leave in the middle of a class, be sure to do so quickly and quietly so you’re not disrupting other people’s experience. Keep in mind that this isn’t permission to just get up and go the moment your class starts to get tough—like when your trainer announces that it’s burpee time. However, if you feel like you’re going to get hurt, it’s not worth the risk to stick around.
“I am a firm believer in listening to your body and respecting what it has to say. If a workout class is not making you feel strong and empowered, or if your body is just not vibing with it, why force it?” says Aly Giampolo, co-founder of the ness , who notes that she always appreciates when a client leaves some sort of message of “it’s not you, it’s me” on the way out. “As trainers, we are here to support you throughout your journey; if you need to leave a class early, there are no hard feelings, I promise.”
There is one type of class where hanging out may be a better option than walking out, though, and that’s yoga. Because of the tone of most yoga classes—and the intense physical and spiritual connection they often create—getting up and walking out may disturb someone else’s flow. “When you are feeling overworked or can’t keep up, I think the best thing to do is take a resting posture—take a nice active rest, but stay alert and engaged with the class,” says Kajuan Douglas, founder of Merge New York, a yoga studio in Manhattan. “Try to keep your breathing rhythm and mind connected to the rhythm and flow of the class. This still gives you the benefit of being a part of the class experience.” (Note: This doesn’t pertain to hot yoga, so if you’re not feeling it, get up and go).
One thing to keep in mind so that you (hopefully) don’t find yourself in a class you can’t keep up with: Do your research. “It is important to read the class description and research the class style and teacher ahead of time so you’re fully prepared,” says Douglas.
As I recently learned the hard way, recovery really is as important as everyone says it is. Here’s how Simone Biles does things on her days off, and why taking a rest day might actually be the best thing you can do for your body.
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