How to Guess the Season by your Group Exercise Class

I have two jobs so quite often do not see much day light / weather as I go from gym to office to gym day by day.  If like me you lose track of the seasons worry not – your classes can provide handy hints as to where you are in the year, rendering the need for a calendar unnecessary.

January – Every class will be fully booked with a waiting list of one million. You will spend 50% of the class taking the register and persuading people to share the kit around fairly.  You will not recognise half the room and everyone will be wearing brand new kit bought half price in the sales.  The air con will break but it won’t bother anyone too much because it feels like it might snow,

February – Class numbers start to settle and will be busy apart from one particular day when you will see a dramatic drop in numbers as lots of people go out for hideously overpriced set menu meals instead of coming to the gym.  The day after this happens make sure you pop to Tesco as there will be lots of half priced heart shaped chocolate available for purchase.

March – There will probably be about two inches of snow and your classes will be cancelled as the country grinds to a halt.

April – It starts to get lighter outside so numbers creep up a little, especially around Easter when everyone wants to burn off the 400 easter eggs and 500 units of alcohol they consumed over a 4 day period.

May – The start of the summer months.  You will know when it’s sunny because class numbers will drop dramatically and the air con will break.  If your gym is near a university people will start heading home for the summer.

June – The number of attendees will continue to indicate the quality of the British weather without you ever needing to step outside.

July – Is the air con working? Yes = It’s probably chilly today.  No = We are definitely in the middle of a heat wave.

August – You will still know whether it is raining or sunny outside by how busy your classes are.

September – The summer is over and familiar faces will start to return after months of spending evenings having BBQs and other outdoor activities.  If you are near a university a flurry of fresh faced people will start to arrive – and you will swear they look even younger than last years intake of students (they are not – you are just getting older) .  Every class will be full with a waiting list of one million.  You will spend 50% of the class taking the register and persuading people to share the kit around fairly.  You may be a bit confused at this point that January has come around so quickly then will notice that the air con is broken and it’s far to warm to be January.

October –It’s getting dark now and some people will start to hibernate. Numbers will start to settle.  It’s getting colder so the air con will definietly definietly work.

November – Numbers will continue to remain stable.If you have windows in your studio there will be no natural light – at any point of the day.

December – The ‘Sod it, it’s Christmas’ phenonomen means class sizes will start to half the day you open the first door on your advent calender.  Everyone who does attend classes will mutter things about needing to burn off all the mince pies as they enter and leave the studio.  You will start to see novelty gym kit as the big day gets closer.

World Cup – During the group stages you will know when England are playing because there will be a 50% reduction in attendance.  If England progress the number of people in attendance during any England game will drop dramatically until finally when the semi finals come around you can be relatively confident you will be spending an hour in a studio alone.  We will not even tempt fate by mentioning the possibility of England reaching the final!

What happens at Tribal Gathering … goes on my Blog

My plan was to take a photo diary of what really happens at a Tribal Gathering whilst at the Liverpool Tribal Gathering this Saturday.

Turns out I’m rubbish at taking photos though and then even more rubbish about getting around to using them.

So here is the written version of what a Tribal Gathering / One Live / Les Mills Live/ GFX is really like:

  • You will start the day in your best Reebok, hair washed cleaned and down (maybe straightened), there may be make up- all of this will last approximately one track into your first class.

  • After this it’s endless top changes and baby wipe showers and an increasingly messy pony tail – depending on your mascara choices you may end up resembling Alice Cooper.  The toilets start to resemble your bedroom


  • Except for some girls who somehow manage to maintain perfect hair and make up even as they are coming out of a GRIT session – these people are aliens
  • There will always be ladies cooking small humans who make exercise look more effortless than you do (respect here!)!


  • Noone wears Nike… or Adidas
  • In fact 90% of people will be in not only Reebok but the exact same outfit- picking people out of a crowd will be like playing Where’s Reebok Wally
  • Body Pump is the first class of the day… for everyone… it’s the law. Unless you opt for Body Balance first… the Body Balancers are odd and us Pump people don’t really understand them… why would you stretch at the start of the day?????


  • Everyone has a Polar or Fitbit… otherwise I’m pretty sure your training doesn’t count
  • Everyone will have a bag half the size of them. It will contain every piece of gym kit they own plus enough food to feed a small nation
  • Bumbags and bands on water bottles- say no more


  • Everyone brings some form of sweets- Jelly babies, Haribo, pic n mix… it’s actually the law to consume sugar on days like this (normally whilst sat on the floor exhausted by life)


  • 20% of your day will be taken up with eating said sweets plus buying and inhaling coffee
  • We gather in packs for this refueling and create much mess


  • You spend another 20% of the day running past people you haven’t seen for months whilst yelling greetings
  • With the odd catch up towards the  end of the day when you’re now too tired to dash to classes and accept you might be late for Combat


  • Another 20% is taken up with selfie taking (often on other people’s phones ahem)


  • There obviously also has to be a picture on stage after a class so it looks like you just taught it… here’s Lou pretending she just taught Sh’bam….


  • 10% of your time is spent trying to work out where room 2 is
  • In the rest of your day you may do some classes! Perhaps … just one or two…. Or y’know – 5…
  • Then you will get the required group selfie- otherwise you put all the calories just burnt back on plus 10%

  • If you’re me you will not do a single class you booked onto but end up in random things like Barre because you got over excited and followed someone. You may not even know the person you followed
  • You meet at least one person for the first time even though you’ve been Facebook friends for 3 years
  • You find out your friends have hidden talents during Sh’bam then force them to perform for you whilst you take photos


  • All of this is done in the knowledge that you will be able to eat the mother of all cheat meals that evening (before the cake in this bag I had an immense hot dog and chips!)! All fitness instructors basically train to eat.  If they tell you they don’t they are lying.


My Beginners Guide to Dance Classes

I teach Zumba and Les Mill Sh’bam. I’m not a natural dancer but that’s ok. I think I’m actually an excellent example of how anyone can enjoy dance based exercise classes.

I’ve written in the past about how classes that look tough can be scary to start- but I totally get that for many dance classes are maybe even more off-putting. A lot of people put themselves into the two left foot category and think they will look stupid.

But – hand on heart these classes are so much fun.

Tough day ? Try going to a dance class and I challenge you not to leave smiling. The benefit of having exercised is almost just an added bonus.

So if you’ve been debating giving a class a go but haven’t been sure here’s my what you need to know tips so you walk into the room with some idea of what to expect (because let’s face it the unknown is always the scariest thing)

  • First – Don’t worry about whether you think you can dance or not – just go and try
  • This isn’t going to be learning a complicated routine to perform in front of your friends and family this is using dance moves to get the body moving and the heart rate up to burn calories and feel healthier and fitter
  • It is still exercise so you may find the odd squat disguised as a dance move – it will help you tone up without even realising!
  • Nobody cares what you look like – the other participants are going to be too caught up in what they are doing to watch you
  • Likewise – there is a lot less technique to worry about in dance classes than some other classes out there so the instructor probably won’t mind if you are freestyling or doing something differently to them!
  • It’s supposed to be fun – you are allowed to smile!
  • If you get a move wrong you can just laugh and carry on – honest
  • No instructor I know takes these classes so seriously that they will be offended if you freestyle a bit- if you aren’t sure about a move do whatever feels right to keep dancing – If you love a part of a track and go want to add your own style – do it. In fact I love it when regulars bust out their own moves on certain tracks
  • Don’t think you won’t sweat- it sounds bonkers but my Fitbit normally tells me I’ve burnt more after teaching Zumba or Sh’bam than Body Pump! I put this down to enjoying it so much I forget how hard I’m working and so keep the energy high all through the class. It doesn’t mean you are unfit – it means the class is working as it should!
  • Like all classes there are levels you can take. If your new or have any little niggles(back, knees etc.) you can walk moves through and take out the jumps (in fact you can do this just to get used to the class)- as you get more used to the routines you can take the energy as high as you like
  • Don’t worry if everyone seems to instinctively know the moves and you feel like a fish out of water- we tend to repeat routines so regulars will know what’s coming – in a few weeks time you will too and the new person in the class will be looking at you thinking how do they know what’s coming!
  • You can wear any gym kit that feels comfortable – do wear trainers though. We will not let you join in in bare feet (unless the class specifically says it is to be done this way!) – this is to stop you getting injured so don’t be offended by this

So which class should you choose?

I am obviously a bit biased towards the ones I teach! Honestly though – best thing I can suggest try all the ones on offer at your local gym and see which one you enjoy the most. There’s so many different styles there will be one for you and the best way is to give a few a go.

Your options include:

  • Zumba – probably the best known dance class. These classes are all based on some key steps and contain a mixture of international music and rhythms. Each song is its own little self contained routine. The instructor won’t speak but will direct you with hand gestures and their movement. Every instructor will put their own spin on the class and prepare their own routines so if you can try a few different instructor’s classes to find one you gel with – and be aware if you go to someone elses class it may feel like starting Zumba all over again a bit!
  • Les Mills Sh’bam – Different to Zumba in that it is choreographed, so whilst every instructor will bring their own personality, whichever you do it the moves will remain the same. New routines are introduced every three months for variety and there will be a variety of styles of dance and music but again each track will be it’s own little self contained routine – normally containing a couple of basic steps which are built up into a little dance combination.
  • Les Mills Body Jam- Another pre choreographed class which means it will be the same whoever takes the class. Unlike Sh’bam and Zumba though this class builds up into one big routine. Each track will focus on one part of a routine which you dance through towards the end of the class. Slightly more dance focused whereas the moves in Zumba and Sh’bam tend to be more dance based exercises (in my opinion)
  • Freestyle – Classes where the instructor designs the choreography and may use a mixture of styles or specify a type of dance (e.g. Street Dance) – these will all be different so don’t let one put you off trying another until you find your fit.
  • Other choreographed classes e.g. Beachbody Cize, SOSA Dance – all with their own style and formats.

As well as being great exercise these classes can be freeing and massive mood boosters so I’d urge you, if you’ve been thinking about it, to give it a try. Remember nothing you do will be wrong and anything goes and just have fun!