I’ve seen more than one man stumble on the stepper in a step aerobics class while the women moved with ease; here is a beginner’s guide for men who feel awkward about being the only man in a step aerobics class.

The Intimidation Factor

Are you a man who’s thinking of taking a step aerobics class, but are “intimidated” or feel awkward at the idea of being the only man in a group fitness class dominated by women?

I’m a former certified personal trainer who has instructed some step aerobics classes at a health club, as well as participated in many such aerobics classes at a variety of gyms, given by a variety of instructors.

Step aerobics, in my opinion, are among the best kind of cardio group fitness classes for developing cardiovascular fitness and improving other elements such as hip flexor strength and ankle strength.

The intensity can be increased a number of ways, including adding “risers” to the step platform, kicking the knees up higher, and jumping in between moves.

Step Classes Dominated by Women. Why?

Where are the men? They are on the treadmills, elliptical machines and revolving staircases.


In fact, if a man is concerned that he’ll look ridiculous in a step aerobics class with all those women, here’s a little food for thought:

A man looks outright ridiculous on the treadmill holding onto the machine while the machine is at an incline–and of course while it is level.

If a man is worried how he’ll “look” in a step aerobics class, he should be more concerned how he looks when hunching his body over the revolving staircase while clinging to it for dear life.

At least in a step class, there is nothing to hold onto, and therefore, it’s impossible to cheat in this workout!

With that said, here are some items for men to reflect upon, next time that urge to try a step class strikes, but the intimidation keeps them from entering the room:

#1. Men should ask themselves just why they feel intimidated, threatened or insecure about taking a step class. Men may find that they actually cannot come up with a definitive answer.

#2. If you feel you won’t be able to keep up with the women, then use only the platform and no “risers.”

Another option is to try a step session in which many of the women don’t appear to be fit.

It’s a myth that every woman in a step class is in tip-top physical condition. Many are novices, just like yourself.

#3. Men may wish to observe a step class to test their misguided theories that all the women are in superior physical condition.

Perhaps a man can do some stretching, sit-ups, crunches or dumbbell routines just outside the step class studio so they can discreetly observe the participants.

#4. Once in the class, a man can modify his movements to minimize stumbling or getting taxed too quickly.

If the high knee kicks are tough, then don’t lift knees so high. If the instructor is telling everyone to hop in between moves, then don’t hop.

If a man doesn’t like doing arm choreography, then don’t; position arms as you would if jogging on a track.

If the pivoting makes you dizzy, then skip the pivoting and just step in place during a pivoting sequence.

#5. Select a location in the corner of the room in the back if you’re a man concerned about women viewing you.

#6. Wear clothes that you’re comfortable in; there is no dress code. Don’t allow the magenta, shimmering Spandex of a woman to intimidate you.

#7. Men, keep reminding yourself that there is nothing feminine, girly or sissy about a step aerobics class.

In fact, the opposite is true. Stepping is more difficult than flat course walking, yet a man would never consider flat course walking to be girly or not macho.

Stepping, especially with other moves mixed in like kicking and lunging, demands a lot more than sitting on a stationary bike while viewing the gym’s overhead TV screens, yet many men think nothing of settling on a bike and doing just that.

Step classes vary as much as their instructors. Some are “easier” than others, but again, you control the intensity by any of the following:

a) adjusting riser quantity

b) increasing kicking height

c) adding jumps (such as jumping in between the “lunge step” move rather than just stepping in between the move), or

d) lunging or squatting deeper. Some step instructors indeed incorporate jumping. Some instructors are lunge-happy and have their classes doing endless sideways lunges that involve the platform.

And then there are the “three repeaters.” Some step instructors will have the class do “ten repeaters.”

If you’re a man who thinks step classes are too easy, just try “ten repeaters” on a platform that’s elevated by four risers. Do 10 sets of “ten repeaters” each leg, alternating legs. Yes indeed, just try it, guys!

Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained women and men of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health.