Get Into Group Fitness Classes

New year, new you. We hear it every January, right around the time we promise to be better about working out. But finding motivation to go to the gym after a long day at the office or in between shuttling the kids from point A to point B? It’s tough. Instead of flying solo this year, consider joining a group fitness class.

Your resolution to eat a healthier gluten-free diet will be boosted by consistent exercise. We’re all increasingly aware that being truly healthy is about more than what we eat.

Group Fitness Basics

If you’re picturing the leotards and sweatbands of the Richard Simmons era, think again. Fitness classes at the gym have come a long way, with many options both virtual and in-person that make motivation and fitness a group effort.

It’s easy to make excuses for not working out on your own, so enrolling in a class will give you a set schedule and something to look forward to. The group environment offers camaraderie, socializing and competition—or at least the imagined competition you create with lady-in-the-front-with-the-pink-sneakers. Under the guidance of an instructor you’ll receive some of the benefits of a personal trainer without paying the price for one.

If you’re just starting out in a new workout routine, you don’t have to jump into it full force. “Start small,” says Ryan Berning, a Boston-based sports performance coach. “Instead of committing to go to the gym every day of the week, try to make it there every other day.”

Find the Right Class

When it comes to picking a class, prioritize your focus—strength and conditioning or cardio. Different classes will yield different results. Standards include spinning, yoga and kickboxing, but your gym will likely offer others. Don’t be put off by the cheesy names often given to these classes. Read the descriptions to see if any focus on an area of the body or workout style that interests you.

Once you’ve chosen a class, it’s about trial and error to find one you love. Before shelling out for a package of classes or a more expensive membership, ask management if you can sample a class or two.

One of the biggest make-or-breaks can be the instructor. If you don’t like his or her style of teaching, the intensity of the workout or his or her interaction with the class, think about trying out another teacher. An indication that you’ve found an effective teacher is whether he or she provides modifications to make a single exercise challenging for each participant’s skill level. A good instructor will also correct a student’s form to ensure everyone is working out safely.

Preparing for Group Fitness Classes

Before you head out the door, grab a snack. Berning suggests homemade gluten-free granola, Greek yogurt and a little honey. “It’s a scrumptious and nutritious way to fuel up before a workout,” he says. And be sure to bring a bottle of water with you.

Plan to arrive at least 10 minutes early to any class to claim your spot and set up your equipment. Make small talk with the instructor and other participants to get a feel for the workout ahead. Unless you’re able to make a reservation, showing up late could mean there’s no room left in the class.

Recovering From Class

As your pulse returns to normal and your legs stop feeling like Jell-O, replenish the calories you just exerted. While smoothies are a quick and easy way to fill up, Berning says, “Anything with a balance of protein and carbs will do a good job of replenishing your energy stores and helping your body recover.”

Sticking With Fitness

You’ve been working hard, but you’ve yet to see the results you’d hoped for. Fear not. “This is the hardest part about making the effort to be a healthier you,” says Berning. “At the earliest, you might start to notice results in three or four weeks, but don’t give up if it takes a little longer.”

Options for Fitness Classes

When it comes to group fitness, you’ve heard about Zumba and CrossFit, but here are some other sessions to get you in shape this year.




7 Tips to Avoid Mindless Eating

Indulge without the bulge this gluten-free holiday season!

The holidays mean family, friends and, of course, food—lots of it and lots that’s not very healthy. From gluten-free stuffing to buttery buns, gathering around the table brings with it comfort foods that often put tradition before nutrition.

Though you may not have the same variety of menu options as your gluten-consuming dining companions when eating at someone else’s home, it’s still easy to overdo it during the holidays. And when you’re celebrating at a table that’s completely or largely gluten free, you face the same temptation to have “just one more bite.”

From oversized portions to multiple trips to the buffet, alcohol overindulgence to sweets overload, you should be aware of what you put on your plate, keeping in mind that gluten-free specialty items can pack in more calories and fat. Mindless eating—that is, overeating without realizing it—also poses a problem. Many of the strategies that help curb mindless eating can be applied to holiday meals and parties as well.

7 Tips to Avoid Mindless Eating

  1. Skip the appetizers. If you do partake in some hors d’oeuvres, go straight for the veggie plate and dole out two or three pieces at a time for a controlled portion size. This can be easy to do when you’re gluten free and most of the appetizers are not.
  2. Pay attention to the size of the serving utensils—particularly if you are hosting the meal. The smaller the serving utensil, the less food you’ll take. Large spoons and scoops lead to bigger portions.
  3. Pace yourself for party-hopping. If your day is going to take you from one house to the next and your hosts have done a great job accommodating the gluten-free diet, don’t fill up at your first stop. Commit to eating a little at the first stop and a little at the second, or only dinner at the first and only gluten-free dessert at the second. Usually the bigger worry is not finding enough to eat at these parties, so this is actually a nice problem to have.
  4. Particularly at holiday parties, alternate between an alcoholic beverages and water to limit your calories while still engaging in the social act of having a drink in your hand.
  5. This is not a test and, yes, there are starving children in the world, but do not force yourself to eat every morsel on your plate. Eat until you are full. And then stop.
  6. If you’re done eating but your plate still has food on it, put your napkin over your dish so that you can’t see what’s left and won’t be tempted to continue picking.
  7. If you’re the kind of person who is always taking pictures with your cell phone camera, use it as a tool to help avoid overeating. Before you dig in, snap a photo of your plate to remember what you ate and how much. If you’re thinking of seconds, take a look at the photo and evaluate if you really want more.