01/09/2014 03:43 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Exercising Your Fear: Group Fitness

This is the second in a four-part series about some of the mental blocks that we as obese people MUST overcome in order to live a fuller and healthier life.

Some things in life are SO much more fun when you do them with a group of sweaty strangers, am I right? Well now that you have gotten over your fear of the gym, why not consider checking out a group fitness class?

2014-01-08-scaryclown.jpgLet me tell you that the idea of group exercise used to frighten me like a clown. Raise your hand if you are with me on that one. I am assuming that there are people raising their hands right now who are afraid of the thought of group exercise AND also those who are afraid of clowns...

Before I decided to jump into the group exercise world at my local gym, the only previous "group" fitness occurrence I ever encountered was the first time I tried yoga. I was really hesitant about being in a room full of people I didn't know, bending and twisting and sweating. I had the same fear that the pro-yogis in the class would chastise me for being a newb poser. I soon realized though that no one came to a yoga class to make fun of the fat guy for putting his dog down (that is a yoga term right? RIP Scout).

I had been going to the gym for a while when I decided to try a group fitness class. I would show up, do my work out, and then skeedaddle. My business partner worked out at the same gym, and he would constantly tell me about the killer indoor cycling class and also the cross-training and kettlebell class that he was taking. I was intimidated by both the intensity of the workouts AND that same lingering fear of being around other people who would see me exercising. But this wouldn't be a post if I hadn't sucked it up and given them a shot.

The indoor cycling class (aka "Spin") occurred in a dark room with loud music, so no one could really see what anyone else was doing even if they had wanted to. The intensity pretty much kept me from even wondering what the other folks were up to. Also when the lights came on at the end EVERYONE was 2014-01-08-indoorcycling.jpgsoaked in sweat. Not just me. Score one for group fitness. The cross-training class was in the middle of the gym floor, which made me feel a little panicky. Everyone in the gym could see us. But once the class started and the workout began, I was ONLY worried about getting through it. It kicked my ass up, down, and sideways. Looking back, it has been one of the most physically challenging things I have ever done. But I kept going back. To both classes. I realized that I was actually enjoying the complete decimation of my physical being. I was becoming more fit and athletic by being pushed by someone other than myself.

So here is the unexpected twist to the story. I was enjoying the group classes because they were challenging me physically. But that wasn't the only thing that I was enjoying about them. I met some really cool people in those classes. People of all sorts of different physical and fitness levels. And you know what, we were ALL getting beat up together! And when one of us was feeling like we couldn't make it through, the others were there to lend support.

It made getting killed in the class enjoyable in a completely sick and twisted way.

If you are NOT doing any group fitness activities right now, consider giving it a shot. They are everywhere. And if you don't want to sign up for a length of time, most of them have a small fee to participate on a class by class basis. (But I suggest making a commitment of at least a month because otherwise you aren't going to get a good feel for it.)

And remember this... No one is there to make you feel fat or dumpy or stupid. They are all there to better themselves, just like you.

Feel free to go back and read part one of this series -- Exercising Your Fears: The Gym