Are you scaling or modifying your workouts?
If you are in the group fitness setting the answer for most of you should be yes.
This does not mean to modify everything about every workout. The idea is that the workout was planned for a hypothetical individual with rep numbers and weights recommended.
You have the opportunity to make it more your personal workout by making sure that the weights and movements fit your skill level and your goal.
Scaling would be referring to more of the change in weight from the recommendation. This could be either up or down. The goal is to achieve a specific outcome for a workout and going too heavy or too light could easily change the feel of the entire workout. This should not be viewed as a bad thing and should be embraced.
Lowering the weight: You may be strong enough for a certain weight but your proficiency in the skill make it difficult to maintain proper technique when you get tired so you should bring the weight down so you can make sure you are accumulating quality reps over heavy garbage reps. This could also be done if you aren’t comfortable with the movement yet and need more practice. It is more important to choose the correct weight and accumulate quality reps so that as you get better and stronger. This way you won’t have to go back and fix technique errors that you engrained later.
Raising the weight: If you are finishing the workout well before the remainder of the group you should look into raising the weight of the movements. As long as form and technique are maintained you should raise the weight to make sure you are getting the stimulus the workout is trying to get. Do not feel limited to the recommended weight just because that was written as the workout.
Modification is a little different. This could be a change in movement completely. Modifications do not always have to look like the movement you are modifying. The goal should be to choose a movement that allows you to improve the skill you would acquire from doing the movement programmed. Progressions are recommended so that you are gaining skills that will build on each other in order to get you to the movement that was originally prescribed.
Modifications can also be done around injuries or painful movements (if there is pain you should consider that an injured). You should ask yourself the question: Why does this movement hurt? What can I do to get better at this movement so that it does not hurt? This could be as simple as adding shoulder bodybuilding instead of a push press if going overhead hurts. If you need help in this area you should ask your coach and let them help you choose movements that are more suited to you.
The bottom line is scaling and modifications should not be viewed as a negative. They allow you to make the workout more personalized to you. This will also help you get better quicker and help prevent injuries.
Fitness is a lifelong journey and staying injury free will give you the most opportunities to continue to get better.