It can be a bit scary thinking about joining a weight-loss class like Slimming World, especially if you’ve never been before. So I thought I’d share some information about what actually goes on, so you’d know what to expect.
You can find out where your local class meets by checking the Slimming World website (UK site/Irish Site). You don’t need an appointment, or to contact them ahead of time. Just turn up and say you want to join. There are new members joining all the time, so there may well be other people starting at the same time as you.
On your first visit, I would say you need to be fairly punctual for the start time of the class. The Slimming World consultant will have a special table set up for newbies, and they will use the first half hour to explain the Slimming World plan to you. They will also give you a number of books that give you all the information you need about the plan, and a membership card.
The membership card is used each week for you to check in, pay your weekly fees, and weigh in. The card will also have details that allow you to login to the website and access all the online information.
While you’re getting your introduction chat, all the other existing members will be arriving to have their weigh-in. They’ll be going to a different table where there’s a bunch of computer gear, and depending how busy the class is, they might need to queue up. First off they check-in with their membership card and pay their weekly fee, and perhaps buy some of the stuff for sale in class.
You can buy copies of the Slimming World magazine (at a discounted price), recipe books, and different flavoured high-fibre bars. The bars seem to be really popular with group members, but are not a mandatory part of the diet plan.
After check-in comes the weigh-in. Members may need to queue up again at the scales. Here you’ll hand over your membership card and book, and when instructed you jump on the scales. There is a display on the desk to tell you your weight, and the person doing the weigh-ins will be able to tell you how much you have lost (or gained, or maintained) in the last week. They will write your progress in your book, and an electronic copy of the weigh-in will be stored on their tablet computer.
Once you start to lose weight and reach a milestone (half a stone, one stone, one and a half stones, etc.) you’ll win an award, which consists of a sticker and certificate. If this happens, the weigh-in person may ask to keep your book, as they like to announce the awards to the whole class.
All the weigh-ins for existing members happen in the first half hour of the class, while you’re getting your introduction chat. As a first-timer, you’ll be added into the computer system and get your first weigh-in at the end of class.
At the end of the half-hour the class talk starts. Feel free to sit anywhere – there is no allocated seating! The consultant will make some announcements about awards won, and any company news. They may also initiate a guided discussion on a particular topic. You should feel free to join in the conversation if you want, or keep quiet if you feel a bit nervous – whatever’s good for you.
The consultant will then go round each person in class to talk about their progress this week. They will announce your weight loss this week (if you lost) and your total weight loss to date. They will never announce what your current weight is – just how much you’ve lost. The class members will then generally clap to congratulate the member. The consultant may then ask how your week went – if you did anything in particular, or cooked something nice, that you might want to share with the class – or if you had problems that the class or consultant might be able to help you with.
It’s a pretty informal and supportive structure, and if you’re really nervous about talking in class you can have a quiet word with the consultant and they’ll not call out your progress.
And that’s it. Once the consultant has finished going round everyone then the class is over, and you can leave (unless it’s your first week, and you still need to do you first weigh-in). Depending on the size of the class, the whole thing lasts between 60 and 90 minutes (including the weigh-in half hour), although some people do discretely leave early if they have pressing engagements. Some people also weigh-in and they leave straight away, but I don’t think those people get the full value from attending the class.
It’s not unusual to be worried about coming along for the first time. I was worried about people judging me or being unkind. However, everyone’s there for the same reason, and as such they are all friendly and supportive. You will also see all shapes and sizes, and both young and old people in class. There might be someone looking to lose 10 pounds, and someone else looking to lose 10 stones, and lots of folk in between.
And although classes are dominated by women, there are some men that attend as well – so don’t be scared off if you’re a bloke like me. I go along with my wife, as we’re both trying to lose weight, but there’s also men that come along on their own.
You can also speak as much or as little as you prefer in class, but I always think that you get out of things what you put in. And so you’ll find that if you ask questions or offer helpful advice, you’ll get a lot more out of the class.
I hope that was of some help. If you have any questions about anything I might have missed out, feel free to write them in the comments.