Dear Trainers: Today, I Was the Worst Person in My Workout Class—Halp!

Photo: Getty Images/Thomas Barwick
At SLT this morning, I was the worst person in my class. Hands down: I was the least skilled, I did everything wrong, and I took the most breaks, while literally everyone else made the workout look like a breeze (and let me reassure you, it's not).

Feeling like you're dragging along in a fitness class is a pretty lousy feeling, especially when you're an avid fitness devotee. It's a blow to your ego, and you can't help but wonder if everyone—including the class's instructor—is judging you. To coddle my sacrificed fitness confidence, I thought I'd go directly to the source and ask trainers what to do if you feel like you're falling flat in a workout.

"When you work out, you're doing it for you," says Amanda Jenny, a master instructor at SLT. "That's the number one thing to remember. You have full permission to be your number one priority for a whole 50 minutes—and the beautiful thing is that this is the case for everyone in the room." Well, that's a fair point.

"When you work out, you're doing it for you. That's the number one thing to remember." —Amanda Jenny

But if you're genuinely like me and feel like you're steps behind the rest of the class, note this: "I would never categorize someone as the worst person in the class," says Barry's Bootcamp instructor Kelly Bennett. "There are many levels of experience in fitness, and Barry's welcomes all levels." So it's truly an individual's journey. Bennett's thoughts on the whole matter? It's all in your head. "I'd say this is a misconception by the person," he says. "We too often fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to others, especially in a fitness class. I tell my clients weekly that it's 'you vs. you.' Only you can decide to keep going and step outside that comfort zone and try something new."

So if you keep the focus on yourself and what you can do (rather than on what you can't do, or what others are doing), you'll let that feeling of comparison melt away. "An SLT class should always be about you and your Megaformer, just like a yoga class is about you and your mat," says Jenny. "Workouts are just as stimulating mentally as they are physically, so there's zero room to let your mind wander—especially if it wanders off to a place of self doubt or criticism." When you start thinking things like: "I'm the worst one in the class," "I'm so uncoordinated," or "I'm always a step behind everyone else," try and quash that ASAP. "Remember that it's about progress and that all the people that you think are better than you in class once felt that way too," says Jenny.

Another way of looking at it is just that it's your growth journey. "Usually on the other side of that fear [of getting out of your comfort zone] is a wonderful chapter of personal growth," says Bennett. "My advice to the person is don't give up. Consistency and the willingness to be coached is key." And BTW—trainers don't categorize people by best and worst. "As an instructor, there's nothing more inspiring and motivational than getting to watch the progress of someone's first class to their 100th class because you see their journey and their progress, and that's what it's all about," says Jenny. "You're doing it for you, so don't let you get in the way of it."

The mind is a very powerful thing—it can make or break your workout experience. So when you feel like you're struggling in a fitness class, just try and change that mindset—and your body (and mind) will become stronger in the process.

BTW, you could always do walking workouts to get your sweat on. And this is the deal on whether or not modified exercises are still effective

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