workouts for the uncool
November 7, 2019 5:32 AM   Subscribe

I’ve been trying to find a workout class to sign my partner and I up for, but totally overwhelmed with these new fancy classes. Help.

We used to rock climb. He runs and cycles. I did neither and am fairly out of shape now after having a child.

Is there a type of class that eases you into exercising again? I just want to be forced to work out once or twice a week, and enjoy it and not feel self-conscious about my postpartum weight. I am super intimidated by these flashy cycling or circuit classes.

Locale MD/DC/VA if people have specific recs.
posted by inevitability to Health & Fitness (21 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Jazzercise! In my area it has become kinda cool again among younger women as an anti-cross fit/soulcycle/other fancy things option, so maybe it's like that everywhere, but it's easy to get into and fun, and the people will be nice I'd be willing to guarantee.
posted by CheeseLouise at 5:51 AM on November 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

Water aerobics.
posted by travertina at 5:59 AM on November 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

I think the thing I like to keep in mind about the flashy cycling classes -- and really all fitness classes -- is that despite the instructor's direction for everyone to do all manner of things (turn up your resistance, pedal from standing, do weird motions on a bike, etc), you can take the class at whatever pace you want and typically they'll respect where you're at. Obviously sometimes that is not the case and it can be very frustrating, but I try to assume they want to keep you around and not push you away.

I underwent a similar process recently and it started with doing a Classpass trial for a month, which allowed me to pop around to a bunch of different fitness classes. I felt like it was helpful insofar as I could try all sorts of stuff out and by RSVPing/committing to go to a class I forced myself to be accountable while I tried to form a habit.

Hope this helps.
posted by sibboleth at 6:12 AM on November 7, 2019 [3 favorites]

Look at your local park district. I've lived in several different towns with active park districts that had a whole range of classes, typically cheaper and less intimidating than the fancy classes. (Sometimes you get instructors who also teach at the fancy places, though, which can be good!)

The park district fitness center by me lets you buy classes individually or get a punchcard with a discounted rate for 10. This can be a great way to try a few different classes/instructors to see what clicks.

No matter which route, go a few minutes early and chat with the instructor. If you tell them it's your first time/you're post-partum and nervous about getting back into things, they're usually super nice and helpful and want to help you succeed.

You've already got the drive to do it - that's the hardest part!
posted by writermcwriterson at 6:41 AM on November 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

I agree that the spin classes in the DC area (Flywheel etc.) seem flashy but that you really have the ability to do what you can. You are never going to have an instructor scream at you directly to go harder or faster if you cant get there.

Orange Theory is another great fitness routine for new folks - it seems very intimidating but the instructors are great and if you go early and tell them its your first time, you are getting back into it, etc., they will walk you through everything, and cue you for beginner modifications. Its hard, but its a great workout. Its the perfect thing to do 1-2x/week.
posted by something_witty at 6:48 AM on November 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

I’m in the DMV and have enjoyed classes offered at my county’s rec centers. Few amenities, but fun, low key, and usually cheaper than the name brand fitness options.
posted by eulily at 6:56 AM on November 7, 2019

If you’re ok with working out together at home, I love love love the online workouts via There is a new mama workout path laid out that 100% focuses on exercising again post-childbirth and preventing injuries while doing so - I wish I had known about it before I decided to torture myself via a boot camp post-baby and tweaked my back.

Anyway, I’ve paid Courtney $5 a month for access to all of her daily workouts and fix me videos for the past year and a half, and it’s the best “gym membership” I’ve ever had. There’s a PappaStrong fitness track that I haven’t tried out but could be great for your husband.
posted by Maarika at 7:00 AM on November 7, 2019

Nthing spin class. I am an indifferent exercise-er at best and I never feel intimidated by a spin class -- everyone goes as hard as they are able and that's cool. Not sure what part of the DMV you're in, but I go to Wired Cycling in Eckington and I love it.
posted by fancypants at 7:18 AM on November 7, 2019

I eased into exercise by using ClassPass and going with classes labeled "beginner". However, I focused on yoga and pilates to begin with, and then transitioned into barre. After a foot injury, I'm back to beginner yoga classes. I've done core power yoga, which is an amazing workout and has the best mix of men and women of all the classes I've taken, so you guys might enjoy that -- however, note that they do expect you to know a decent amount of poses, so if you've never done yoga I wouldn't start with it. Barre was an amazing workout, but it was 100% percent women (I'm not kidding -- I never saw a man in the studio once).
posted by DoubleLune at 7:36 AM on November 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

2nding a dance-aerobics class like Jazzercise or Zumba. There's even a "Clubbercise" where they turn the lights down low, break out the lightsticks, and play club music. Everyone is focusing on following the instructor's moves, so no one is paying much attention to you, and you can make it as intense or as low-impact as you need it to be.
posted by Glier's Goetta at 8:10 AM on November 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

My YMCA offers hip hop dance classes which are super fun, diverse and body positive. I think they would be hilarious to do with a significant other. Surprisingly challenging too!
posted by genmonster at 8:26 AM on November 7, 2019

I understand exactly how you feel. Flashy classes like the offerings at SoulCycle and OrangeTheory are intimidating. Classes with words like "High Intensity" or "Bootcamp" in them sound more like abuse than fitness.

But remember that we are all mere mortals. The odds are that the majority of the people in the class are just like you, or were in your shoes at some time or another.

Just do one class. Tell yourself you'll stay near the door. You don't need to talk to anybody, you just go in, do your thing, and leave. If it's too much for you, just leave and don't come back.

The only way to find the right fitness class is to try them until you find the right one. Know that your fears are just fear of the unknown.

And remember, it's just a fitness class.
posted by cleverevans at 8:47 AM on November 7, 2019 [3 favorites]

I took water aerobics through the DC Parks at the Takoma Park rec center location, which also had free parking. It met once a week in the evenings and contained a range of body sizes, fitness levels, ages, and ethnic groups. (It remains one of the most diverse spaces I have ever found myself in.) I really enjoyed it and only stopped because I moved away. It was also very reasonably priced.
posted by melodykramer at 8:53 AM on November 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

My solution to this was to join a small gym near my house that only offers one type of class -- meaning, not Orange Theory or CrossFit but similar "this is the kind of workout we do here" type of place. It took all the dithering out of my head to just say "I'm trying this" and see if it worked. (It has worked for me.)
posted by BlahLaLa at 9:20 AM on November 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

My solution to this was to join a small gym near my house that only offers one type of class -- meaning, not Orange Theory or CrossFit but similar "this is the kind of workout we do here" type of place. It took all the dithering out of my head to just say "I'm trying this" and see if it worked. (It has worked for me.)

Same. I go to a tiny gym that does small-group personal training (max of 8 people per hour) with free weights and kettlebells that programs a mix of stuff (like Crossfit-type activities but without the weird speed/performance pressure/macho stuff that happens with Crossfit sometimes). The small group meant that it was pretty easy to get to know people when I started, and that meant that I was more likely to show up because I was missed when I was gone. There's a mix of ages, genders and starting fitness levels and the trainer is awesome at helping folks scale the workout to the right level. I cannot endorse this approach more; I'm a lot stronger and more confident than I was when I started. If you can find a friendly setup like this it would be a good fit, I bet.
posted by charmedimsure at 12:09 PM on November 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

I really love CrossFit South Arlington, where I've been going for about 8 months, once or twice a week.

It is NOT a bro-y CrossFit stereotype. They have 100- level classes specifically for people getting back into shape or who need to learn the movements 6+ times a week. They make sure you know how to do the movements or offer alternatives, which didn't happen in the orangetheory class I went to. Most of the coaches are women, and two are actually out on maternity leave now.

Drop me a note if you're interested in checking it out one evening and I'd be happy to meet up so you're not daunted!
posted by foodmapper at 3:58 PM on November 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

My solution to this was to join a small gym near my house that only offers one type of class -- meaning, not Orange Theory or CrossFit but similar "this is the kind of workout we do here" type of place. It took all the dithering out of my head to just say "I'm trying this" and see if it worked. (It has worked for me.)

Yes, same! I am a (happy) fat lady and I've always been scared of gyms, but last year I started going to a gym that exclusively does kettlebell training. There are required introductory classes to teach you how to lift safely, and then small group classes where the trainers (half women) show modifications to make things easier or harder. For everything you pick your weights and pace. The gym has a competitive lifting team so there are some amazing athletes, but mostly an diverse assortment of just...normal people. It's also conveniently close to home, which helps me a lot. (That and seeing these muscles appearing on my arms.)
posted by esoterrica at 4:31 PM on November 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

I got started in an old-fashioned powerlifting class. It's a bit counter-intuitive if you've mostly seen competitive powerlifting, but it's actually super beginner friendly. The lifts are slow and simple. Also, you can scale it down as far as you want just by putting less weight on the bar, so you never have to be the guy stopping the class to ask for a different exercise. (I did a lot of that in yoga, Pilates, and ballet.)

Alternatively, if you're DC area, you have one of the world's best contra dances in Glen Echo. Find your nearest contra dances, Folklore Society of Greater Washington.
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 8:56 PM on November 7, 2019

Is there a women's circus or a community circus near you? I've found them to be very beginner-friendly (I started in my mid 20s, which is fairly late, especially since I had no fitness experience beforehand) and there's a lot of options depending on interest and skill level. A lot of them would have a Circus Fundamentals class that gives you a taster of everything - you can then pick specific areas later if you wish.
posted by divabat at 1:23 AM on November 8, 2019

DC has a robust belly dance community, but if you definitely want to take a class together it might be weird for him—I never had a man in my classes, although it's certainly not...not allowed. If you might be interested in going alone, check out Sahara Dance. I love Willow Street in Takoma Park for yoga (sad to see Moses is gone but Joe is GREAT). Paul Ramos at Wu Shen Tao was my first fencing instructor when I was a kid and I took a little tai chi with him as an adult, tai chi is definitely low-impact but good for getting you back in touch with your body (and they have more strenuous classes too). And Joe's Movement Emporium has aerial yoga which I feel like everyone would be amusingly terrible at at first, even your athletic partner—could level the playing field! :)
posted by babelfish at 10:44 AM on November 8, 2019

Response by poster: Thanks so much everyone! Lots for me to explore and I definitely feel better. For the local recs, I’ll be reaching out!
posted by inevitability at 8:23 PM on November 8, 2019

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