If you’re like most people, you probably hate working out. It’s boring, it makes you sweaty and it requires you to turn off Netflix and wipe the Doritos crumbs off your shirt. There are, however, ways to make your workout less of an endless slog through hell and more of a tolerable (and maybe even fun) experience.

Breaking a sweat will never be as great as catching up on the latest season of your favorite show from the comfort of your own bed, but it doesn’t have to mean taking a trip to the gym to mess with confusing machines and listen to other people grunting.

IMG_1727One of the least horrific ways to get fit is to try a group fitness class. There are plenty of group classes available, teaching anything from dance to yoga to cycling to boxing and beyond. There is something for everyone, you just have to find what you like to do … or at least find something you can stand doing for an hour or so at a time. If you don’t enjoy it, you won’t keep coming back for more.

Why group fitness? Beth Handline, Director of Dance Trance, explains it best, “Group classes are social by design … students feed off of each other’s energy and enthusiasm.”

Dance Trance is a unique dance fitness studio offering dance, yoga and barre classes at all levels with several locations across Northeast Florida. If you’re looking for a fun way to exercise in a group, their classes are a great option. They even offer beginner classes that move more slowly and give in-depth instruction to be sure everyone feels comfortable with the moves.

Of course, a lot of people feel apprehensive about taking a group class. You worry if you’ll look like an idiot flailing awkwardly in front of people who already know what they’re doing, or you obsess about how your body looks in those new leggings you haven’t had the guts to wear yet. Maybe you’re terrified you’ll let out a wicked fart in the middle of the class and have to make up an excuse to get out of there fast and quietly move to Nebraska to escape your shame.


“No doubt, this setting can be intimidating for some. It’s a muscle factory forged by the fires of Hades. But, if you’re willing to get over your shaky bones, crossfitters can be quite welcoming. They can smell fear, and they can also pump you up.” — Spencer Rooney

Step one to combat these feelings is to suck it up and put those leggings on because no one cares how you look. They’re all too worried about their own bodies to notice yours. Step two, avoid having tacos the day before your class. Trust me on this one — tacos are tempting, but Nebraska is cold and fart shame is a harsh mistress to live with. Step three, according to Handline, is to let go and have fun. “If you are having fun nobody will care what direction you are going.”

One fitness trend that’s proved it’s more than just a fad is CrossFit. If you’re looking for a hardcore, full-body workout that comes along with a sense of community, this might be for you. A high-intensity combination of cardio and strength training, it’s not your average workout. Paul Villarreal is a CrossFit coach at Black Hive in Jacksonville Beach, and he believes that CrossFit is great for everyone, no matter your fitness or skill level. He and the rest of the staff at Black Hive give every client one-on-one attention and make sure they modify every workout to the individual, that way you can participate in an all-level group class without feeling lost or left behind.


For Villarreal, one of the biggest benefits of working out in a group setting is the accountability factor. Classes are small, with 10 to 15 people, so everyone gets to know everyone else. He calls it a “tribe” and said “members become friends and exchange numbers … they keep each other coming here.” He also believes that the relationship you build with your instructor is important, and he strives to inspire his clients and ensure that most all, they’re having fun and enjoying their time with him.

It can be tough getting started with a new exercise regime, no matter what it is. Handline recommends starting off with a beginner level class, which will go slower and offer more in-depth instruction for newbies and going into it open-minded and ready to learn. She also suggests writing down a schedule and forcing yourself to stick to it no matter what. Whatever your chosen method of exercise, this is great advice for turning your new workout into a habit. Exercise shouldn’t be a dreaded chore. This year, try out a new group class and maybe you’ll find a whole new lifestyle awaiting you.