About 10 days ago, I was lucky enough to be able to review a group fitness class for Active Life DC. The review was published online yesterday. You can find it here.
Tips on Writing a Class Review
1. Take a notebook and pen
While you may think you have a great memory (and hey, you might), it is always a good idea to have a notebook handy to jot down anything you want to reference in your review later–exercise names, certain motivational phrases the instructor used, the sequence of the class, etc. Make sure to place anything you are bringing out of the way of yourself and others while exercising. Writing down notes is not worth a sprained ankle or a broken nose (man, the damage a notebook could do!). In addition, make sure your pen works before you start class.
2. Take a camera
People like pictures, that’s a fact. It’s why Instagram does so well. If you are going to take pictures, take note of the following things:
- A phone camera may fall short. Mine did, but I have an iPhone 4 so the camera isn’t as sophisticated as the camera on the iPhone 5S and other newer smartphones. To be safe, though, I would take a real camera….as in a camera that is meant to be just a camera, not an app on a phone. Lighting in group fitness studios is AWFUL for taking pictures. However, if a phone camera is all you have, have no fear–it could do the trick, you just need to make sure your lighting, distance, and aim are even more on par. Or else you end up having a photo that looks like below (I’m not entering any photo competitions anytime soon):
- Alert the instructor and the class to the fact that you are doing a review and taking pictures for the review. If anyone objects to having their picture taken, do not take it. Don’t. Also, if you do take pictures of people (who did not object) it is a nice courtesy to show them the pictures after class in case they strongly object to a certain picture being posted. Listen, no-one wants a picture of them doing a sit up as their stomach bunches together and their neck is pressed into their chest. Well, not many people anyway. Other things you can take pictures of: the instructor demonstrating an exercise (unless he/she objected before class), equipment you use in the class, the studio, the facility, etc.
3. Listen to the instructor
Is the instructor motivational? Does he/she know his stuff? Is he/she providing safety cues? Are you getting inundated with technical terms? One of the things I liked about Ivan, the instructor who taught the Metabolic Conditioning class that I reviewed, was that you could tell he knew his stuff but he wasn’t yelling a bunch of intricate muscle terms at me. He would say something along the lines of “Good, get lower in your squat and you will really feel your quads and glutes burning” and he would explain some of the moves to us to impress upon us the exercise’s purpose and possible effect, but he wasn’t overloading my mind with terms such as ‘mitochondria’ and ‘ATP’ as some instructors and trainers highly knowledgeable in Exercise Science can do sometimes. I am an Exercise Science person, so I know what you’re talking about but a) most people will look at you with blank stares and b) just because I know what you mean doesn’t mean I want to hear about it while you are pushing me to my anaerobic threshold.
4. Listen to those in the class
Some of the best indicators of the quality of a class are the reactions of those in the class. In the class I reviewed, I heard a patron say “This exercise is now my nemesis.” She had been to this class for weeks in a row, but this was a new exercise to her–and it was HARD. This showed me that a) the instructor switches up his routine and b) the class is challenged.
5. Take the time to speak to the instructor before or after class
It’s only the right thing to do. She or he is willingly allowing you to broadcast his or her teaching ability and the caliber of the class to an unlimited amount of people on the interwebs–the least you can do is introduce yourself and say thank you. Added plus? Ask the instructor a couple background questions relating to instructor experience and exercise. And maybe even a fun question, like–if you were a superhero, what would your superhero name be?
(P.S. Arriving late and leaving as soon as you complete your last stretch is just plain rude. This is group fitness class etiquette for all group fitness attendees, not just the reviewers.)
6. Pay attention to your body
The trick to writing a good review is being in tune with everything going on–from the music, to the instructor, to those around you, to what your body is telling you. Did the class challenge your body? If a strength class–could you feel the burn in your legs and arms? If a yoga class–did the instructor spend enough time in each position to allow you to sink into it, breathe into it, fully stretch all the muscles involved? Did the instructor challenge you with exercises that made you think “WHOA. This is hard. This is awesome…I’m going to do this exercise at home!” or “I never even knew this muscle existed!” On the flip side–were your shoulders, for example, hurting because the instructor packed way to many shoulder-focused exercises back-to-back?
7. Take note of the following random things:
- Were there water breaks?
- Was the space good for group fitness?
- Were their modifications to exercises?
- What were your 2-3 favorite aspects of the class?
- The rough sequence….were exercises just thrown all around willy-nilly or was their a method to the madness?
Above all, have fun!