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WHAT DO THE words “group fitness” conjure up in your mind? Do you picture overly enthusiastic people stepping in time to the chants of a man with an afro and glittery shorts? Think again, my friends. As a big fan of the group fitness classes the University of Ottawa Sports Services offers, I’d like to bust some myths and encourage you to check these classes out.

Myth #1: Group fitness classes are expensive

Some classes—such as indoor cycling, kickboxing, and weight training—do require registration and have a cost associated with them, but group fitness classes are included with the gym membership wrapped into your tuition fees. That’s right—there is no additional cost to join a class, and thus no excuse not to join. The schedule of classes included with your gym membership can be found at under Campus Recreation.

Myth #2: Group fitness classes are a girl thing

Don’t expect to see women wearing neon thong leotards and leg warmers, exercising delicately so as not to break a sweat. Although the majority of participants in the classes I attend are women, the workout is far from “girly,” and it’s a great way for anyone, man or woman, to break a sweat. Guys may have to up the intensity a bit depending on their fitness level, but instructors are glad to demonstrate modifications.

Myth #3: There’s no variety

False—there are three different stepclasses as well as Cardio Sweat, Tae Cardio, Total Body Conditioning, All Ball, Boot Camp, Everything in One, Skip It, Yoga for Fitness, Yoga Fit, Zumba, Aquafit, and Kick n’ Jam classes. Since the classes are included with a gym membership, you can try something new every day and figure out what you like best.

Myth #4: Other participants will judge me if I’m a newbie

At my first Cardio Dance class, I was nervous as hell. Although I’m fit, I’m uncoordinated and uncomfortable working out in front of others. Sure enough, I messed up the moves and ended up looking like I drank some NyQuil and then tried to do the dougie. But you know what? Unlike Grade 8 physical education, no one laughed or made fun of me. There is a wide range of sizes and abilities in each class—not everyone is an athlete or a size zero. In fact, you may even find the encouragement of others is a great motivator. I know it keeps me coming back week after week.

—Sarah Gisele