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8 Mistakes You’re Making in Group Fitness Classes

Fitness classes take a lot of the guesswork out of working out: Your instructor has a plan and the equipment and will demonstrate moves and other students can help motivate you. But that doesn't mean you can sit back and coast. Here are tips for getting the best workout possible.

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You always take the easiest option


In all quality group fitness classes, your instructor will offer a variety of levels and modifications to make exercises a little easier or a little harder. For example, an instructor might start you with traditional squats with the option to bump it up to jump squats. If you're brand new to a class, it's more than OK to take the easiest option offered, but once you have a few classes under your belt, experiment with a few of the more challenging options. This will help you from plateauing so you'll continue to see results. Here are 11 fitness myths you need to stop believing.

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You always take the hardest option


Just like always taking the easy way out, it's also a big mistake to always take the hardest option in group fitness classes. If you overdo it, you're more likely to experience extreme soreness and injury and you might be forced into additional rest days. Yes, rest days are important, but if you are too sore or injured to move your body for multiple days per week, it could setback your weight-loss and fitness goals. These are the most common signs you're working out too much.

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You ride way too fast in spin


In cycling, more isn't always more, and less isn't always more either. It's a delicate balance to figure out where to set your resistance and speed during class, but a common mistake is to pedal as fast as possible in hopes of the best calorie burn. You should never feel like you're on a chain-less bike during class and you shouldn't go any faster than your instructor's recommendation. If you do, your caloric burn will actually plummet and you'll risk injury. Need more of a challenge? Try increasing your resistance.

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You're not focusing on technique


If you've ever complained about a Pilates mat class being too easy, you're probably wishing class moved at a faster paced because faster means harder, right? Not always. Perhaps you even try to exaggerate your movements to get more out of each exercise but because Pilates consists of targeted core moves, sometimes the slower and the smaller your movements, the more you'll feel it the next day. In fact, try this with core moves in all of your exercise classes. Do less to feel more. These are the exercise moves that actually work against you.

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You have 'your' spot for every class


Get out of your comfort zone and try a different bike during cycling, a different spot on the floor for Zumba, or roll out your mat in a different location during yoga. Letting go of 'your' spot or bike will reduce your stress level on the way to class (since you'll no longer be worried that someone will steal it) and just trying a new spot in the studio will change your perspective. This may be enough for you to mix up your workout and keep you interested for a little longer.

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You leave early in yoga


We're all in a hurry these days and the end of yoga consists of literally just laying on the floor in shavasana, so why not skip out a few minutes early and beat the crowd to the locker room? Final shavasana (also known as final resting or corpse pose) is the ultimate relaxation pose and those two to five minutes will really lower your stress levels. Less stress leads to better sleep and lower cortisol levels, both of which contribute to overall weight loss.

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You keep your injuries a secret


You might not feel comfortable speaking up in front of class and announcing your injuries or ailments, but make sure your instructor is aware of anything that's causing pain or discomfort during class. You can pull him or her aside before, after, or even during class when they're nearby to quickly and discreetly discuss another exercise option. If you find that a particular class doesn't work for you while you heal from injury, your instructor can give you other group fitness class ideas that might be a better fit short- or long-term. These are the other post-gym mistakes you make that could ruin your workout.

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You don't grab heavy enough weights


Similar to not challenging yourself with hard enough exercise options in workout classes, you also have to pick appropriate weights. You'll know you have the right size when the last few reps are a struggle to complete. If the last rep doesn't feel much different from the first, it's time to increase your weight size. If your favorite class has enough dumbbells, grab two sets. Here are some more weight-loss mistakes you don't realize you're making.