It has been years since group exercise classes were introduced to a public that was ready to put fun and variety into exercise routines. Part of the reason the popularity of such classes continues to grow by leaps and bounds is the variety of classes being offered: step, slide, spinning, box aerobics, aqua aerobics, cross training, circuit training, body sculpting, body ball and so much more.

Trying to decide which class is right for you can be confusing. So how does the novice exerciser digest what is available, sign up for a class and get a great workout? Here are a few tips:

Check to see if the instructor is certified through a reputable organization such as ACE or IDEA.

Watch the instructor teach a class before you join. That way you can decide if you will be able to follow along. And you may even learn some of the steps ahead of time.

Find a class that matches your experience level and meets the fitness goals you have. Considering the wide variety of classes offered today, you should be able to find one that targets your needs as well as your interests. Let your instructor know of any health concerns you have.

Wear appropriate attire and shoes. Also, bring a water bottle to class.

Do not quit after the first or second class. It is natural to feel awkward during the first few classes. Give yourself a couple of weeks to feel comfortable with the routine before deciding to quit or continue.

Ask for help. If you are unsure of the movements, see if you can come to the class 15 minutes early so the instructor can teach them to you. An instructor should be able to break down the steps for you to make them less complicated.

Focus on your footwork first. Then add the arms later when you are feeling more confident.

During the class, if you find you cannot keep up, jog or march in place until you are able to get back in sync with the others. Do not slow down just to figure out the instructor’s footwork because it is important to keep your heart rate up during the aerobic portion. If you feel you are working too hard, however, lower the intensity by eliminating the arm movements or slowing the pace.

Participate in the entire class. If you come late to class, you miss the warm-up portion. If you leave early, you miss the cool-down. Both portions are critical because they reduce the risk of injury and help provide a well-rounded workout.

For maximum benefits, try to engage in a group exercise class three or more times a week.