This week I was invited to speak with the Canadian Multicultural Education Foundation. It was an opportunity to answer their membership's burning questions about exercise and physical activity.
The question that stood out for me the most was about exploring something new…
If I want to join an exercise program, how do I pick the right one?
Believe it or not, I field this question a lot in my practice. Here are my top 7 suggestions:
Watch - you can gather a great deal of information about a program by simply watching, not participating. This may seem counterintuitive for me to say. Of course, I want you to move your body; yet, I'd rather you see what happens in a program before you invest in joining.
Check the price - speaking of investing, doing your homework in terms of what you get with the program is essential. I see lots of free programs that can't run as people who register don't have enough "skin in the game" to really commit. While others can be too expensive for what you actually get. Typically a group program would be between $10-20 per class. If a class is greater than $25, it would likely be a more specialized class and it would depend if that is what you are looking for and if you want to spend that much. You really do get what you pay for!
Speak - talk to the organizer, the facilitator and/or the instructor be forehand. If you have any questions about the suitability or commitment or any other outstanding questions, talk to who is running the program. This is an opportunity to learn more about what you are getting into. AND if you can speak with a current participant in the program, even better.
Read - the internet is full of people's opinion. Maybe look for a Google Review or read testimonials on the program's website to get a full understanding of whether the program is a good fit. A little bit of research online can go a long way. It is sad to say that an organization or business who doesn't have an online presence may not be the program you want to pursue.
Consult your schedule - does the program currently fit in your schedule? If you can only attend once and a while, is it worth for you to join at this time? By taking a look at your calendar, it helps you plan the program into what is already going on in your life. Work on the logistics before registering. Find out if there is a drop in option and if you could purchase a package of single use passes instead if you can't commit to the entire program.
Qualifications - do you know what qualifies the instructor to teach the program? Every different kind of exercise modality does take a certain amount of knowledge and experience to teach. It also takes a certain skill set to work with different populations (e.g., pregnant women, children, people with disabilities etc.) as well. If you need more attention to detail, be sure to find an instructor who is well-versed in your needs.
Try - ask the organization if you can try a class at a reduced rate. Once you've done all your homework and you've determined you want to participate, now it is time to try the program for one session. By trying the class you can see if you are welcomed in the class, are comfortable with the movements, the space and/or the time of day. By trying once, you can save your time (and money) if the program isn't the right fit for you.
I like to use an aquacise class as an example because many people I work with are recommended aquatic exercise from their doctors and they aren't quite sure if it is the right fit.
Watch - many pools have viewing areas. Find a class you want to attend and got watch a single class from the bleachers.
Check the price - pick up the program guide or find a copy online to review what a single class costs.
Speak - talk to the front desk staff about the aquacise class. Ask about where in the pool the class takes place? How many people are in each class? Inquire if there is ever an occasion when the class is full and you wouldn't be able to join. If you don't get suitable answers, ask to speak with the aquatics director.
Read - google the words "aquacise classes" and "your city" and "review". It is likely that someone has posted information about their experience in a local aquacise class.
Consult your schedule - cross reference the program guide you found to see what time classes are offered. Look at your calendar to see which time might work.
Qualifications - in your conversation with the front desk staff or the aquatics director, ask who teaches the class? How long have they been teaching for and if they have any specific accreditations?
Try - purchase a single use pass, grab your swim gear and head to the pool. Arrive 5-10 minutes early and approach the instructor with any questions or concerns you may have. This is also a chance to let the instructor know you are new and ask if there is anything you should be aware of before, during and after class. This is a great opportunity to get a "read" of the instructor. Please remember that an instructor is there to support you. He/She may also be setting up for class while you want to talk. Well prepared instructors, though, are prepped and ready to go 5 minutes before class starts.
Now ask yourself, did you like the class? How did the class make you feel? It is likely that you will know right away if you want to continue or continue your quest to find the right aquacise class.
Did you find the right fit? No sweat if you didn't. You may not always find the right program right away. It might be about the timing of class. It could be that you don't like the way the instructor speaks or the music he/she plays. It could be that you feel like you are over your head in terms of the intensity of the class. It could also be that you don't like the type of exercise.
That is okay.
Then start fresh with finding something else. It takes a couple tries to find the right fit. And when you do, you become a promoter of the program!
Stay well and happy moving,
P.S. Did you know, I've updated my services? I have two new classes that might interest you. You can read more here.
Missed my most recent newsletter? Don't worry, I've got your back. Find all my exclusive letters here on this blog. ~Lisa