Skate as much as you possibly can, and challenge yourself. Most people never get better than they are because they never do anything to make them learn how to be better. If you're slow, bust your ass and do line sprints. If you have bad conditioning, do HIIT sprints on the ice, etc. Just don't be complacent in meager abilities that'll get you by, because chances are you won't get much better at any of them. You could have a natural knack for certain things though, which will be great as a beginner because it'll make you want to even up your skills all around.
Congrats on getting started! I just started playing in March and it's very addicting.
I would suggest spending as much time on the ice as you can. Even if you're not working on any particular skill (stopping, turns, etc) just the fact that you're on the ice will help you. I find that the more time I spend on the ice, the more comfortable I feel. Getting on the ice on Friday (after not being on the ice Tues/Wed/Thurs always feels a bit awkward for a few minutes even though I obviously haven't forgotten how to skate over just three days!
I think you'll find it much more fun if you at least get the basics of skating down so you're not constantly falling. It's part of hockey, but if you're falling every couple of minutes, it won't be so much fun and you'll be preoccupied with trying to stay up rather than being able to pay attention to the game and having fun. I've noticed that once I'm playing in a game or scrimmage, I'm not thinking very much about my skating and forget that I 'can't' do particular things - I just go after the puck, try to pass or shoot, try to catch the pass. I know that others who have at least a minimum of skating ability are the same way, but the ones who really have a hard time on the ice can't get over the balance/skating issue enough to enjoy it so much.
Keep working at it and you'll have a great time. I've made so may friends through hockey and I look forward to getting on the ice every single time. I didn't ever LOVE going to the gym, but it's so easy to get to the rink because I enjoy it.
Good job, I took a beginners class a couple months ago and it was awesome.
As has been pointed out get out and practice your skating as much as you can. During the classes push yourself as far as you can when it comes to doing the drills. Don't be concerned with falling, if you're not falling at this point you're not pushing yourself to your limits. Don't be worried about falling, your gear WILL protect you.
Outside the ice, work on your legs, back, and core. These are the primary areas you'll be using while skating. No matter how much you work out in the gym before hand you're going to be sore after your first session, skating and holding yourself up on the ice takes muscles you didn't even know existed
Most of all just have fun. Don't worry about if you're not good enough, or if others are better just work on yourself. Take your time doing the drills and get them right. If you have an opportunity to scrimmage at the end of class take it! Actually playing the game will help you advance so much. Organize some shinny with your fellow classmates as well if you can!
Skate every chance you can get. If ice time is limited/difficult to make happen, consider roller blades. Not the same but it will help.
If stick time is available, try to find a buddy/partner who you can spend the entire session passing the puck with. Skate around and pass back and forth, over and over, the whole time. For a beginner, shooting is over rated. Get comfortable passing while skating.
No one ever refuses to pass the puck to someone because their shot sucks.
And finally, put an effort in during your class. It's easy to "skate" through a drill (pun intended) but every drill in an opportunity to get better, improve muscle memory, learn how to do a certain skill. Really focus and take advantage of it. Classes are expensive, take time and aren't always available. Get the most you can out of every session.
I grew up skating, living in small Canadian towns always near a rink and with a brother who played organized hockey. I was always that one kid who couldn't stop but I could switch to skate backwards if I wasn't going to fast and never had a problem doing crossovers. So when I started playing ice hockey at 27 I thought my skating would be decent enough (once I learned how to stop)... and I was wrong.
It took me a few months and a power skating class to go from a public skating champ to passable hockey skating. And even now a few years later while I do well enough there's still a distinct difference between me and the guys that played all their lives. Doesn't mean it isn't worth it, hockey is the funnest sport I could be playing right now, but it's kind of a tough pill to swallow when playing sports growing up my running/speed was always my biggest strength.
So yeah, it's definitely a worthwhile sport to play but if you're starting without ever having really skated before you're going to want to be spending lots of extra time at public skates to get up to speed.
do these drills in order: russian circles, tight turns at each face off, then stop at each faceoff. If your at a free skate, skate forward until you hit the blueline and practice transtioning to backwards and skate backwards between the bluelines, once you hit the second one, switch back to skating forward. This will do wonders for your balance. Last but not least, crossovers