1. Supreme uncoordination.
If you think you’re awkward and gangly just walking around in everyday life, ask your body to do a series of movements that are somehow connected and will, in theory, tear down your muscles and build them back up. Babies putting square pegs in triangle-shaped holes look more tactile. It usually takes a few reps of flopping around like a fish to get the move right, but I can guarantee you that you will. Eventually. Maybe. (Everyone starts out not knowing what they’re doing, and it’s better to look weird getting perfect form down than flailing around and hurting yourself.)
2. Gym class PTSD.
Because few things are as haunting as getting picked last and/or having red rubber balls lobbed at various parts of your body. Even if you’re taking a yoga class and there are no red rubber balls within a 500-foot radius of your person. Everyone has one gym horror story — mine is about running the mile, and those hunter green mesh shorts will terrorize my dreams — and it will all come rushing back to you. The thing is now, you’re an adult, who willingly signed up for this class, and not a teenager whose mom wouldn’t let them stay home sick from school. You’ve got this. You’ll be fine.
3. Fear that you’re going to get kicked out.
Especially if you’re going to a class for the first time, everything seems like a test. How you’re setting up your equipment. Where you place your towel. What kind of workout clothes you’re wearing. How you say hello to the front desk person. Whether or not you know where the bathroom is. And if the instructor comes up to you to fix your form or help you out a little, it can sometimes feel like you’re getting singled out as the. worst. ever. But you’re not. You’re fine. Everyone else is this nervous in the beginning, too. (And the instructor fixing your form is a good thing. It means you’re less likely to get injured.)
4. Time. Stops.
You will look at the clock. The clock will look back at you. You will engage in a stare-down with the clock. And then the second hand moves a fraction of a centimeter. And then it stops again.
In all seriousness, if you’re lucky, you’ll realize that you enjoy the class so much that time feels like it passes by really quickly, but even then, looking at the clock is going to make things feel like they’re moving really, really s l o w l y. So don’t look at the clock. Focus on how much fun you’re having. Really. Honestly. Working out should be fun (and if it’s not, try as many different workouts as you need to until it is).
5. The five stages of grief.
I mean, it’ll mostly be the bargaining part, and acceptance might rear its ugly head at the end when you want to collapse on the floor after a particularly grueling set, but slowly, you’ll grow to love the momentary discomfort for the sick gainz. (Or, you know, mental clarity, lowered stress levels, endorphins, and yeah, okay, that sweet body.)
6. You instantly think you’re in killer shape.
You’ll look in the mirror and suddenly see bulging muscles and swear you’ve dropped five pounds. If anything, any weight you do lose is water weight that you’ll gain back when you rehydrate, but don’t let that stop you from downing that H20. (Really. That’s dumb.) But you’ll catch yourself looking all swole in the mirror and that’s okay, because you just worked out really hard! Revel in the #fitness. Take a selfie! If you worked out but didn’t ‘gram about it, did it even count?
7. Soreness. Soreness everywhere.
I tried a rowing class at Row House this morning, and let me tell you, I have never realized so quickly how many stairs actually exist in New York City. Going through the subway system? Miniature torture. Typing all of this right now? Pain? I didn’t brush my hair this morning because my arms are already that sore. Waking up tomorrow is going to be a barrel of laughs, too. But when you try a new workout, you’re targeting and moving a whole host of muscles in ways they don’t usually move, so of course you’re going to feel it. Just avoid stairs for a few hours and you’ll be fine. Maybe get a massage. Eat a cookie. You earned it.
8. Unbelievable hunger.
Suddenly, there is not enough food in the world. You’re going to want to devour everything in sight — runger, and its less-phonetically-catchy cousin, intenseworkoutger, are very real things — and depending on what your goals and reasons for working out are, that’s totally fine. Eat! Eat like crazy! (Just be sure to eat well, so you recover more quickly. I had avocado toast and coffee this morning, but #protein is good for #gains, too.)
9. You’ll be hooked.
Especially if the class is good, and they play good music, and the instructor was motivating. Maybe you’re still trying to figure out one or two of the moves, and you want to go back to make sure you get it right. Maybe it’s just convenient for you, and you can see yourself going a few times a week. Maybe there’s a hottie in the front row. Maybe you have some big event to get in killer shape for. Whatever it is, endorphins make people happy (and happy people don’t… well, you know) and chances are, you’re hopped up enough on the happy juice to think going back is a good idea. Because it is. Really. Your body will thank you.