By Yael Lubarr
OK, so it's 7 am. You got yourself out of bed, made it to class, and you're here to get that workout in, check it off your to-do list, and then go on with the rest of your day, feeling productive. After all, as Woody Allen famously said: "80% of success is showing up." Right? Maybe not.
As a Pilates teacher who teaches group classes all over Manhattan, I feel that showing up to class is only a small piece of it. With so many fitness-goers leaving their standard gym memberships for boutique fitness classes, and the rise of apps and websites that finally make boutique fitness accessible to all different demographics, I feel that somehow, somewhere, the true intention of being in class has been lost.
Is there even such a thing as the right or wrong intention when taking a fitness class? Isn't it ultimately a personal motivation that no one else can judge or critique? Yes, but it is possible to find the best intention within yourself when choosing to take a class. This applies to everyone — first-timers, regulars at a studio, and those using discount boutique fitness services who know that they will only be at the studio three times a month. We all need to stay focused, and remember that the instructors are here for the sole purpose of helping and inspiring YOU.
For example, clients may come in to our studio — I teach at Uptown Pilates and Real Pilates —presuming that the Pilates class they are about to take will be similar to their weekly barre class, wondering why there's no music or why the pacing is different. Or, they rushed into class at the last minute without any preparation, or a chance to tell the teacher of a personal injury, or that it’s their first class. Sometimes clients don’t bother to listen to a teacher's cuing, lost in thought as if running miles on a treadmill, and in some rare cases, I have even seen class-goers chat with a friend or attend to their phone — in this case, also distracting other clients.
The main point is, no matter what your motivation is in choosing to be in class that day, it should always be clear and significant, never absent from your workout. A major question to ask yourself from the second you walk in the door is: "Why am I here?" What made you take the time out of your busy day to go to this specific class? What are you trying to get out of this workout today? Whatever the answer is, be mindful of it throughout the entire hour or 45 minutes, In order to get the ideal experience out of class. Whether it is your first or your 50th class, walk in and bring internal and external awareness to that space.
So the question is: What are ways in which you can bring this "best" intention to a class? These are some suggestions I find valuable, both as a student and as a teacher: Call the studio before your first session, and make sure you have all the necessary information regarding appropriate workout apparel and footwear. Check the studio's website for any additional information regarding the studio, class descriptions, and instructors. Watch any available videos of the class — either on the studio’s website, or The Sweat Life's web series episodes — so you know what to expect. Arrive a few minutes early (5 at the very least) to get a sense of the studio, and have a chance to speak to the teacher beforehand about any injuries or questions you may have. And finally, even if you’re paying a discount for that specific class, please be aware that other people in class are NOT. You are getting an experience that other clients are paying full price for, and that is an amazing opportunity that should not be ignored.
Bringing this type of awareness and appreciation to a studio, no matter who you are, will only enrich your experience. After all: Do you want to walk out of the studio feeling like you just sort of got the benefits of the workout, or do you want to leave feeling that you got a truly successful workout, and took advantage of everything you possibly could? It should be a no brainer. Each session will then build on one another, and you will be getting the maximum benefit each time you show up.
Even if you are a long standing client who has been going for years to the same class and is on a first name basis with all of the studio staff, it is still important to remember not to get too comfortable. What if you could only take your beloved class 3 times a month, as opposed to your usual 3 times a week? How you would approach this workout or session differently? Make it count!
No matter what the circumstances, always strive to push yourself a little bit harder each class, fully focus on what the teacher is saying, and WHY you are doing an exercise. Be mindful of how you are moving and concentrate on what you are doing, without letting anything or anyone else distract you. Don't allow yourself to drift off or zone out. Things not only stay interesting, but your brain remains focused and your blood keeps pumping, resulting in an optimal workout session. Teachers and fellow classmates will definitely appreciate the presence and the effort you bring to class, but most importantly, YOU will feel better and appreciate the effort — which is really what counts when you walk out the door feeling amazing and energetic, ready to conquer the rest of your day.
Originally from New Jersey and the youngest of 5 girls, Yael Lubarr first began ballet lessons at the age of 5 and immediately fell in love. Her devotion and passion for dance ultimately led to her acceptance into the dance program of The University of Michigan (Go Blue!), where she graduated in 2005 with dual bachelor degrees in both Dance and English. While in college, Yael obtained a summer internship with the renowned Merce Cunningham Dance Company, where she immersed herself in summer dance workshops and classes, fully taken with the ingenious Cunningham technique and choreography. Yael not only was fortunate enough to perform excerpts of Cunningham repertory for her senior thesis solo, she was also offered a scholarship to study in the Merce Cunningham Studio's Professional Training Program in New York City shortly after graduation.
In 2007, Yael became certified through the prestigious Romana's Pilates program at True Pilates New York, and for almost a decade has taught private and group sessions in classical Pilates at two Manhattan studios, Uptown Pilates and Alycea Ungaro's Real Pilates. In 2014, Yael was accepted into the 2-year, full-time cohort MBA program at the Fordham Graduate School of Business Administration, majoring in marketing, and plans to pursue a career in health and wellness.