Group Fitness at the Gym: A Realistic Review

Joey finished her Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing and History in 2013, and is currently in her final year of her Masters in Creative Writing, Publishing and Editing. 

Doing group fitness classes at the gym can be daunting for first-timers, but they’re a great fitness resource and are heaps of fun!

The Basics

1. You can do the classes at any fitness level. Everyone does their own thing and no one gives a shit what level you’re working at. They’re just worried about not passing out themselves.


2. You can get monthly or yearly memberships to the gym, which allows unlimited access to group fitness classes and facilities. Or Unimelb students can pay $13 for casual classes, which is a pretty good deal.


3. For casual classes, you buy a pass and they load it onto your student card OR give you a ticket. If it’s on your student card, swipe into the venue room. If you have a ticket, just show it to the instructor and they’ll let you in. Don’t panic and jump the turnstile like I did.


4. Bring a towel to group classes! If you forget, you can buy cheapie ones for $6 at the counter. Apparently not everyone enjoys using a mat that’s smeared with the dried sweat of a stranger, pfft.


Here are five popular classes available at the Melbourne Uni Gym, and my review of each based on personal experience:






What You’ll Be Doing

An aerobic-based class involving choreography around using a step (Note: STEP IS PROVIDED. I REPEAT. DO NOT BRING OWN STEPLADDER). The rumours are true: Body Step takes some coordination and focus, but the beauty of it is everyone is bouncing around so much that if you’re not hanging on to the steps nobody will notice—they’re all just trying not to trip and break both ankles.

What You’ll Be Thinking The First Time:

‘This is pretty embarrassing. I feel like a young mother who’s just dropped her kid off at crèche. I’m never going to tell anyone about this. Oh wow. Okay. So you want me to… Like… jump on to this? WHERE ARE YOUR FEET MR INSTRUCTOR MAN. WHERE DO I PUT MINE? Hey, this is fun! WHOA I ALMOST DIED. No wait, it’s ACTUALLY fun!’

What You’ll Be Thinking as a Regular:

‘REPEATER two three four, left MARCH two three four, right DOWN two three four. I’m a GOD two three four of RHYTHM two three four LEVEL THREE YAAASS.’

Go to Body Step if you’re coordinated, have ankles of steel and you’re looking for a lower-key workout that is still a challenge.





What You’ll Be Doing:

Really simple, slow exercises that, if you’re doing it right, should make you realise that you have muscles you didn’t know existed. On an unrelated note, hi there side glutes!

What You’ll Be Thinking The First Time:

‘Haha, this is a bit useless. Honestly, I’m not even feeling anything. My core strength must be really good already. I probably won’t come next week—Oh. Okay. So you want me to… oh. Okay. OH GOD.’

What You’ll Be Thinking as a Regular:

‘Huh, I’m not feeling a strong burning sensation… I mustn’t be doing it right. Instructor, how am I able to make this more painful for myself? Yep, there it is.’

Go to Pilates if you’re looking to build up some tone, control and core strength.




What You’ll Be Doing

Lifting bar weights and hand weights, doing lunges and squats. There is a fair bit of equipment to navigate, but feel free to chat to the instructor beforehand to see what you’ll need. Otherwise you’ll look like me during my first class, juggling weights and sliding all over the mat.

What You’ll Be Thinking The First Time:

‘So apparently I need to be using my warm-up weight for this exercise. Great. What’s a warm-up weight? Like, five kilos? I could bench press a five-kilo child, probably.’

What You’ll Be Thinking as a Regular:

‘My warm-up, lunge, chest and hand weights are meticulously laid out next to my step and map in ascending order. I am standing with my feet square under my shoulders and I am ready to squat.’

Go to Body Pump if you’d like to be ripped-as in your upper body but would like some group-style instruction.







What You’ll Be Doing:

A skipping warm up, followed by exercises that combine and alternate between different boxing punches and cardio, then some strength exercises to cool down. There’s a lot of partner work, so bring a friend the first time round or be prepared to share hand sweat with a stranger.

What You’ll Be Thinking:

‘OH GOD THE GLOVES ARE SWEATY. Hope I’m not hurting my partner, I’m probably really strong. Ouchies! That hurt my knuckles!’


What You’ll Be Thinking as a Regular:


Go to Cardio Box if you like the idea of venting some healthy steam in a positive fitness environment.




What You’ll Be Doing:

The class is made up of roughly ten tracks that each focus on something different (warm-up, cardio, agility, upper body strength). Each move you do has a few levels, so if doing a burpee frightens you, you can always try something lower!

What You’ll Be Thinking The First Time:

‘This warm up is pretty low-key. It’s a bit embarrassing. Oh my god, people are clapping as they run.’ (50 minutes later) ‘THERE IS NO GOD. HE HAS DESERTED ME AND ALL I HAVE LEFT IS PAIN AND THIS HANDTOWEL. THIS CLASS IS A CULT.’


What You’ll Be Thinking as a Regular:


Go to Body Attack if you’re ready to amp it up with an all-over workout and you don’t mind sweating with a lot of strangers who are also sweating a lot.


More info regarding group fitness classes at the Melb Uni gym can be found here:

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