The first time I took a group Barre class I thought I was going to either pass out or throw-up if I didn't stop and have water, so I did. I decided I'd rather have other people in the class suspect that the class was too hard for me, than prove it by doing one of the aforementioned things. At this point, I have zero shame about taking breaks and I don't care how obvious it is that that's what I'm doing.
But...That wasn't always the case. When I did feel self-conscious about stopping during some kind of group exercise, whether it was a hike with friends or a class, I had a few ways I would sneak in breaks when I needed them. Feel free to use them if you need to!
The "Documenting the Experience" Break. This one is one I know Nikki has used, and I've done it too. When you're on a walk or a hike with a group of friends and you need more breaks than they seem to take, use the excuse of taking some pictures of the scenery. Take as many pictures as you need to in order to be ready to continue with the hike. Reviewing your pictures can also take a minute or two :-)
The "What is the Instructor Doing Now?" Break. This is a great one for group classes. In this one, you use the excuse of needing to see the instructor's form on an exercise to stop moving and watch for a minute.
The "There's Something in My Shoe/Sock" Break. I used to use this one a lot, especially if I wanted a break where I could sit down. I just pretend that there's something in my shoe that needs to be removed; sit down and pretend to deal with it (which usually requires untying and removing my shoe(s); put my shoes back on and then resume class. Or I'll just pretend that my shoe is tied too tightly or loosely and I need to adjust it.
The "I Need to Adjust My Mat" Break. This one is good for floor exercise. Workout classes usually take place in rooms with hard floors, and the yoga mats they give you are often really thin. So, I'll use the excuse of needing to fold my mat in strategic places to provide more padding or support, or even getting up and grabbing a second mat to lay on top of the first, to take a bit of a break.
The "Oops, I Didn't Fill My Water Bottle Enough" Break. I'll fill my water bottle half-full, and then when I need a break I'll hop up and go top it off.
The "I Need a Stretch" Break. More often than not, I'm not pretending with this one. With this one, you just take a minute to stretch out whatever muscle you were just working. Or do a little back stretch or something. You're still doing something exercise-related, but you're giving yourself a little break, without it necessarily looking like that's what you're doing.
Okay, those are my favorite sneaky break strategies. Do you have any you use and want to share? Leave them in the comments below!