New to Yoga, Pilates or other fitness classes…. You’ll be fine (just read this)

Doing anything for the first time can be scary and heading to a new fitness class is no different.

Whether you’ve never completed a push up, or you’re a WOD junkie (just trust me that means you know what you’re doing), going to a new environment and trying a fitness class generally lies somewhere between stressful and downright terrifying.

So your options are to just not go and never do anything… (We’re not really fans of this).  Or you can go, embrace the new experience, people and environment and see if it’s something you want to continue to do. But how do we overcome or at least rationalise the fear?

I like to think about absolute worst case scenario’s, what is the absolute worst thing that can happen? Let your imagination run wild – maybe you turn up in your pajamas, or your tights are on inside out, or that bean you ate last night has come back to haunt you. All pretty bad, somewhat unlikely, but let’s say we somehow manage to do all 3.

Who was it? C’mon?

My rationalization: Pajamas are comfy. A lot of really good yoga / workout gear has seams inside out (again for comfort, so another point for pj’s). Then finally what kind of group is going to blame the new person for a mysterious smell? It’s way more likely to be the guy who thinks he’s “all that”, not the cool, interesting new person in their PJ’s, who’s the indoor crop duster.

It was definitely this guy….

Sorry if I got a little sidetracked, but PJ’s are comfy… Now far more likely a worst case, is that the class is too tough and you simply can’t do it.

Even if you’re struggling, do the best you can and when the instructor comes past ask for help, a lot of people take time to “get the hang of it”. If the instructor is impatient, rude or not helpful, just leave, that instructor isn’t for you (or us, or anyone). This isn’t thunder dome or a weird cult (as much as everyone moving in unison makes it feel that way), leave whenever you want, you’re a grown up, you’re in control.

I know you feel like all this is easier said than done, what does this guy know? So here’s a little story about a 6 foot 3, 100kg inflexible, oft injured guy doing yoga for the first time.

I turned up to my first 2 hour Iyengar Yoga class on a beautiful Monday night in April, the sun was just setting, smell of rain in the air, it really was a beautiful night, just gorgeous. But yes, you read that right 2 hours of yoga. To make matters worse Monday’s were still well and truly inside my hobble zone, where my body hadn’t yet recovered from my sporting efforts on the Saturday. What was supposed to be fun was really a weekly tenderizing. So I hobbled into the studio, and was met by some cool, friendly, laid back types. I took off my shoes and sat on the floor as instructed.

The Yoga class began and I couldn’t even do the first bit (technical term for the first pose). My feet cramped, my body and mind felt incapable of leaning back in the same way the rest of the class had just plonked back like it was nothing. Seeing my confusion and terror the instructor came over and suggested some “support cushions”. I looked around and saw 1 person in a class of 20 with a single cushion under their back, so thought it must be a thing. So with a pile of cushions, stacked in a way to maximize height and load bearing ability I attempted the “first bit”.

My matrix of “Support Cushions”. I owe these brave cushions everything.

Leaning back on my matrix of support cushions, I winced and writhed about getting what felt like further away from the position I for some crazy reason desired to put my body in. Unfortunately like the guy who had just been shot protecting the president, I was breathing rapidly, writhing in pain and knew the job was not yet done.

So what came next for our hero? Did he bleed out, did someone save the president? Or more likely in my case, did I leave and follow Cultus the Rottweiler’s lead and swing past Maccas drive through on the way home?

Sorry Cultus, you’re on your own.

I pushed through. After what was probably only 5 minutes of what felt like an hour long torture session the “first bit” was finally over! I’d made it, I hadn’t done it as well as everyone else, but I’d done it the best I could. The next bit involved standing, standing I could do! Like a young Rory Calhoun I could stand with the best of them.

A young Rory Calhoun. Standing like a boss!!

Whether it was the euphoria of making it through the first bit, or I’d just increased my pain tolerance in 5 minutes (thanks yoga!), I managed to make it through the whole class. I called on my new found best friends the “support cushion” matrix a number of times, in fact I’m 100% sure I didn’t do one pose correctly, but I was enjoying it and actually liked joking with the instructor about making him earn his money.

I continued to do Iyengar yoga every Monday for 3 months (yes I may have missed on long weekends), until I moved house. By then I was down to 1 support cushion for the 1st bit. It was great, I felt like I was sleeping better and had more energy on a Tuesday than any other day of the week, while I don’t still practice Iyengar I’m glad I did and writing this makes me want to go back.

Unfortunately new classes aren’t always sunshine and support cushions. I’ve also had times where I’ve tried classes I just didn’t like. I generally like spinning classes, but have had a couple of instructors that were just up there working themselves out (note to instructors if you’re too puffed out to speak you’re not running a great class). Luckily I’ve also had some legends who were really motivating and their classes were fun. I also walked out of a kettlebell class once, because I didn’t know what I was doing and no one seemed to care.

All classes and instructors are different. A different instructor may not have got me through that first Yoga class. So if the class really is too tough, you don’t feel comfortable or you’re worried about an injury, stop. This generally means you didn’t get the right information before you started or are not getting the right support (which isn’t your fault). So just grab your stuff and leave, maybe you book in for an easier class at the location if they were nice people, or you leave and never return, completely up to you, you’re the boss of you!


So that’s my attempt to get you going to a new class. Remember worst case you smell and/or leave, best case you get down to one support cushion and are still talking about how good it was 6 years later.

Fitness Trends in the Big Apple

You could argue (and I will) that the fitness market in manhattan is the most competitive in the world.

In the last 2 years the number of boutique fitness studios doubled from around 200 to over 400 in an area geographically equivalent to about 10 melbourne suburbs (that means 40 fitness locations in your suburb, I know it feels like there is a lot now, but there may be 10, 20 in more dense areas, this is still double even the most keenly served suburbs).

There are more fitness locations than there are streets in Manhattan.

Luckily the residents love them some fitness and are always looking for the next big thing, so innovative fitness businesses get a chance to succeed and quality fitness businesses continue to thrive.

Trending over the past few years (showing no signs of slowing down, demonstrated by new spaces opening) include:

Soul Cycle

Their first location was found on craigslist, the ex dance studio on the Upper West Side became home to the business that would ignite the boutique fitness studio trend in the city. With locations spreading throughout the states and a clothing line, the Super cool….. (that under sells it’s level of cool herre, I was thinking chic but it’s fitness not fashion, but if ever there was a “chic” fitness business soul cycle is it). The “chic” 45 minute “Spin” class is intense and has attracted some of the cities best instructors, dark lighting and pumping beats make the ride both energetic and energizing. Also Soul Cycle were one of the first companies to allow you to book classes online (we think that’s cool).

If you like the sound of soul cycle you may want to check out:

Sprinnt (Camberwell) –

Cycle Collective (Richmond) –

Art of Cycling (Yarraville) –

Tone House

Extremely tough workouts, with a focus on athletic movements and toys like TRX’s rip trainer, they also have a lot of care for technique (they kick your butt the right way). Tone house boasts that you burn more calories in their classes than any other. With instructors coming from athletic backgrounds they create a team feel to getting your butt kicked.

If you like the sound of Tone House you may want to check out:

5th Element Wellness –

GRIT Plyo classes – Goodlife Health Clubs & Genesis Fitness

KX Pilates –

Barry’s Bootcamp

With their “shock the body” mantra you can guarantee that every workout will be different at Barry’s bootcamp. They also use a wide variety of equipment in their hour long classes, which tend to be split into half cardio, half strength and focus on a different area of the body on different days of the week (except Full Body Weekends).

If you like the sound of Barry’s Bootcamp you may want to check out:

Heavy Haulers – Check out Haulers Classes here


The worldwide phenomenon has its doubters, however have you ever seen one close down? I’m sure it happens, but I haven’t seen it in New York. Devotee’s WOD there way through the week. For the uninitiated the workout of the day or WOD is completed as fast as possible, or as many reps as possible (aka AMRAP see you’re learning, it was worth reading this blog!). This emphasis on all out effort and the community of people screaming encouragement at each other is what keeps people coming back.

If you like the sound of crossfit check out:

Crossfit Maps –


Not being from a dance background or a Barre expert, I’m not sure whether the barre method is a new trend or it’s just making a comeback, so I checked Google Trends and Barre is trending! I feel like it has always been there but proprietors have commercialized it and are taking both the exercises and the services around it to the next level. New York has many dedicated studio’s, even larger players have converted spaces by drilling bars into mirrors, to give the Barre classes a go, or another go…

If you like the sound of Barre classes check out:

Barrebody –

Mile High Run Club

One new facility I have seen but admittedly know very little about is Mile High Run Club a treadmill heavy studio. But just running classes? Not at all, at this studio elite runners take you through various classes. Some include kettlebell and strength work, others are 90 plus minutes of intervals, hills and tempo running (I just had an unpleasant flashback to our lunchtime sessions at high school cross country). Luxury gym chain Equinox have also started RUN classes.

Wish another type of class existed or think we missed one? Let us know in the comments below.

Also If you like the sound of running / treadmill classes mentioned above and you’re in Melbourne let me know in the comments. I’ll see if I can have one of our partners at to “run” one for you!



The blogs we’re into….

At fillmyclass we think a good blog engages, educates and entertains. Generally we’re happy with 1 of the 3, but we think the difference between a good and a great post is getting 2 or on a good day 3 of the “3 E’s”.

So what do we read and why? Funnily enough, it’s not all group fitness, or fitness classes, but there is a lot of cross over into fitness classes and what’s trending in health and fitness. Here’s what we’re into at the moment (stay tuned as it changes quite regularly), please feel free to let us know some of your favourites in the comments.

Lulu Lemon –

Yoga stuff, uber lifestyle brand, pant of the people, socially acceptable outerwear underwear. Whatever you want to call their products their blog is awesome. It’s clean and focused not just on looking good but enjoying life. 24 hours in Sydney anyone?

I like it when a website looks so nice, you feel nice when you look at it. We’ll be working on making this blog “feel” like the lulu lemon site. Enjoy.

Chia Mia –

I emailed Mia of Chia Mia last week to let her know that while I’m rubbish in the kitchen, I really appreciated the recipe where she pimps her porridge (my words not hers). This was a recommendation from my sister and i’m really enjoying the recipes and the simplicity.

The 4hww Blog –

Author Tim Ferris breaks things down and makes you feel smarter for having read a post or listened to one of his many podcasts. Originally a “lifestyle hacking” blog, his more recent books have focused on fitness and wellbeing and “how to” learn skills. Along the way interviewing and collaborating with some truly great minds in a variety of fields (We really like the interview with Pavel from It’s all very practical.

While we know some of the theories don’t work for everyone, pick and choose and use what you can, it’s not an all or nothing kind of exercise, but there are definitely lessons to be learned (only if you want to, it’s not school I promise).

Rate Your Burn –

If I could transplant a blog, making it for Melbourne this would be it. Community is essential to rateyourburn and makes the blog a goldmine full of useful insight from real group exercise aficionados. We’ll work our butts off just to be half as cool as this blog. I really think rate your burn has given a voice to participants and some much needed recognition to the highly skilled and talented instructors out there.

While this might not seem like much, having worked in commercial gyms for close to a decade Instructors are invariably under appreciated. Whether it is Yoga, Pilates, Les Mills or boxing, a good instructor creates a warm environment for class goers. Quality instructors are often the reason participants keep coming back.

Rateyourburn gives people the chance to let studio and gym owners know how valuable their staff are. This can only be a good thing for instructors and the industry.

Blog is coming….

We’re really excited to be launching our blog in the coming weeks.

Our aim is to make this blog a community of group fitness instructors, participants and providers to help elevate the quality of Group Fitness in Australia.

Instructor profiles, class reviews, news and feature articles about the industry and the new new things!

We can’t wait to get you involved, for now please sit tight and if you would like to become a contributor please reach out to us with your information by emailing