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Why Working Out In Group Fitness Classes Gives Us Too Much Anxiety

I'm one of those people who views exercise as some of the only time for myself in the day, without cellphones or computers or advertisements.

I can literally tune out the world with my music, focus on my breath instead of whatever has been stressing me out lately and just build myself for the better.

For this reason (among others), I've never been one to enjoy having a so-called “fitness buddy,” or that ponytailed person with whom you go to Pilates and then grab iced coffees, all while gabbing about how much you looove the instructor. I'd rather just be on my own time and make it about myself because I am completely self-centered like that.

Not only does the idea of having a workout pal horrify me, but even more so is that multiplied by 20. Group fitness classes make me more anxious than Gwyneth Paltrow around Dunkin’ Donuts.

Although I am a relatively fit individual (read: I can hold my own during an entire workout class, but I was still picked last in the swim competition at camp. Ask me now how I feel about a weekend at the lake.), I have never liked feeling tight in my chest or sticky in my own skin.

I suppose always being the slowest to run the mile in gym class has left me with certain notes of PTSD that make me uncomfortable with the adult version of Physical Education.

Call it post-traumatic sweating disorder, I was never the superstar athlete, yet still manage to be drenched after an hour-long gym period. It's not pleasant for anyone involved.

It's quite puzzling, however, because despite fearing these group encounters, I've somehow attended more than 20 different exercise classes just counting lower Manhattan alone.

Exhale CoreFusion, SoulCycle, David Barton, New York Sports Club, FlyWheel, Crunch, Ashtanga Yoga, Pilates at the Y, Jillian Michaels, Om Factory, Chelsea Piers, Pure Barre, Barry's Bootcamp (this was by far the most challenging, by the way) and Russa Yoga, just to name a very small few.

While I generally bug out about it for the better part of the afternoon and hate sharing my “mind-body connection time” with other people, at the end of the day, I am always happy that I attended a group exercise class.

The truth is, I always receive a better workout than when I'm lifting free weights in my cramped bedroom to “Real Housewives.” There's also the accountability factor that's beneficial for flaky individuals like myself.

Though the anxiety is totally pointless, it is not unfounded and nonetheless real. Here's why group fitness classes make me want to crap my stretchy pants.

1. Being the least fit

It really sucks being the girl everyone uses to make themselves feel better. I know this thinking makes me completely insecure and paranoid, but you can't deny feeling a teeny bit happier about your bum leg when the dude next to you can't touch his toes.

It's especially demoralizing when you've got a false sense of confidence because you breezed through the warm-up, only to realize there are 50 minutes left and you haven't even reached the ab part.


2. Not knowing the moves

When everyone is high-fiving each other like they're the “Center Stage” gang, and meanwhile, you've got your head up another person's butt trying to watch the instructor up front, you can't help but feel like the odd man out. I maintain, Zumba class is even more fun when you're drunk enough to dance with reckless abandon.


3. Watching my sweaty self lifting my leg like I'm a dog taking a piss is unappealing

I'd rather just cat-cow my big ass in private, thank you.


4. I'm nervous I'm going to throw up

I never thought of myself as one of those people with an irrational fear of vomiting, but I guess I am. At least in front of an entire group of people, that is.

Particularly when burpees are involved, my stomach launches into a “get me out of here!” panic and I'm frantically searching the room for the nearest pail, just in case.


5. Intimidating instructors

I've always dreamed of having a personal trainer-turned-drill-sergeant to kick my butt before bikini season a la Kate Upton, but the reality is, I'm deathly afraid of these instructors.

There's nothing worse than being humiliated in front of the class when an insensitive, tankini-clad, petite trainer still wearing her engagement ring loudly suggests you try the modified version… for the remainder of the period.

Sorry, not sorry I'm just better on my knees. (Wink, wink.)


6. The accidental kick, fart or personal space offender

Someone very close to me once farted during bikram yoga and I was laughing so hard it ended up being ME who got kicked out of class. I've been scarred ever since.

Not to mention, there's the real threat of being whacked by someone's lack of appendage awareness. With so many people crammed into a small studio, you can't stretch out like you normally would.


7. Sweating profusely

The horror I feel for group fitness classes can only be matched by how some people feel when they see my face after a spin class.

I genuinely believe that instructors actively avoid touching me to adjust my posture, opting instead to verbally call me out (which in comparison isn’t much better). I'm that girl who is a visual reminder to wipe down your mat before class.


8. I'm not obsessed with the teacher

You know what I'm talking about: the instructor who is everyone's bestie, celebrating her students' birthdays during classes and talking so much motivational nonsense it's beginning to feel more like an anti-drug assembly than grown-up 'Diesel Arms' class.

Top Photo Courtesy: Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images

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Laura Argintar

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