6 of the Biggest Mistakes You’re Making in Fitness Class

If lacing up your shoes to go for a solo run or bike ride sounds like your idea of torture, then fitness classes were designed with you in mind. They offer a change of scenery and a chance to make some new friends while you get your sweat on.

And there are other benefits too. Livestrong reported exercising with others does wonders for motivation, since everyone is working toward a shared goal. The article went on to say these classes also hold you accountable. You’re less likely to skip your workout in favor of the snooze alarm when there’s a roomful of people who will notice your absence.

It’s also a lot less likely you’ll slack off if you’ve got an instructor telling you it’s time to push a little more. Everyday Health said, “You’re more likely to get a well-rounded exercise routine and get a potentially tougher workout.” And the publication has science on its side. A 2012 study suggested athletic performance can increase when exercising with a partner.

Now comes the downside. Just because you’re part of a group doesn’t mean your workouts are totally foolproof. Making mistakes during exercise sessions is surprisingly common. We’ve highlighted six common blunders that prevent you from getting the most effective workout. Avoid these gaffes and you’ll be in killer shape in no time.

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1. Cycling: incorrect form

Cycling classes have legions of devoted fans. That’s probably partially thanks to a fun, supportive environment, but mostly because it’s a serious way to whittle your waist. According to Glamour, one spin class burns around 565 calories. But not so fast. Everything from the way you hold the handle bars to your seat height can impact the effectiveness of your workout.

When you’re trying to maximize the effort, you may find yourself white-knuckling the handles. Cosmopolitan explained this puts added tension on your shoulders and back. If you’re expending that much energy on grip, it’s likely you aren’t maximizing your pedaling effort. The article also highlighted the importance of proper seat height. Too low and you won’t be able to get enough power behind your strokes; too high and you’ll slow down.

When you find yourself falling into these pitfalls, make sure you allow yourself enough time to get to class. If you’re in a rush because you walk in the door 30 seconds before you start spinning, consider leaving for class a few minutes earlier. That way you won’t be tempted to cut corners.

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2. Zumba: mindless movements

While The Wall Street Journal reported the popularity of Zumba might be on the decline, there are still plenty of people who like to dance their way to better health. And some areas are seeing an increase in popularity. The Los Angeles Times revealed this trend has some serious staying power with locals who can enjoy bargain $5 classes. An inexpensive way to dance away the pounds is a win-win, as long as you’re doing it right.

You might feel relieved that the moves start getting easier after a few months, but don’t let that be an opportunity to slack off. Koh Herlong, a certified group fitness instructor, told Shape that you will “burn the most calories possible with each move while strengthening the muscles in the most efficient way by giving it your all every time.” So dance like you mean it!

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3. Treadmill: hanging on

The days of slogging through a treadmill workout by yourself are over — at least, they can be. Treadmill-based studios took the popularity of spinning and ran with it. More and more of these classes are popping up across the country. Well and Good predicted these workouts as one of the biggest fitness trends for 2015.

A treadmill class nearly guarantees you’ll get your heart racing, but there are still a few missteps you could be making. Though holding onto the sides is tempting when you’re really pushing yourself, Women’s Health said doing so completely screws up your posture. The article went on to reveal holding on shifts some of your body weight away from your legs and eliminates your arm swing, which decreases your calorie burn. If you’re really struggling, slowing your pace is a better option.

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4. Crossfit: too much

There’s no denying Crossfit’s mass appeal. According to Racked, the high-intensity training program now boasts somewhere around 8,300 gyms around the world. People flock to these locations with the promise of camaraderie and impressive results. But it’s unwise to get too carried away with enthusiasm.

Men’s Fitness reported many newcomers get too caught up in being competitive instead of focusing on their specific abilities. The story suggested you “learn how to perform the movement properly and put your ego to the side.” Going full-bore right out of the gates will only lead to disappointment, and even injury.

Along the same lines, Crossfit devotees need to watch out for overtraining. Trainer Will Lanier told Men’s Fitness he recommends taking one day off after every three consecutive sessions. Those rest days will help your body heal and ensure you’re ready to go when you get back in the gym.

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5. Personal trainer: telling lies

Working one-on-one with a coach might just be the best way to meet your fitness goals. Livestrong explained consulting with a trainer means your workouts are designed specifically for you. The story also explained these experts make sure you don’t get bored with the same activities and know when to adjust your workouts as your fitness improves. And trainers are becoming more affordable than ever. Well and Good reported that Blink Fitness offers affordable training sessions, and Planet Fitness members can enjoy training services at no additional cost.

While that’s all great news, you could be sabotaging your efforts if you aren’t being honest with your trainer. Spark People said, “if you’re not telling the truth about your workout or eating plan, then a trainer isn’t going to be able to adapt your fitness plan accordingly.” That means no more fibbing about the second brownie you ate after dinner, but it also means not eating less or exercising more. Trust your trainer.

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6. Yoga: wrong clothes

When it comes to stress relief, yoga might beat every other form of exercise. The Mayo Clinic reported the activity can also improve fitness and lower your risk for certain diseases. And with so many different styles, there’s a yoga class for just about anyone.

Before you hit the mat, though, make sure you have the proper attire. Contrary to what you might think, baggy isn’t better. Women’s Health reported tighter fitting clothes are actually a better choice because all of the twisting and bending could lead to some awkward moments if there’s a gap between your shirt and your chest. Don’t go too tight, though. Athletic clothing giant Lululemon came under fire a few years ago for selling pants that were too sheer, so always do a bend test before you buy.

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