So, you’ve decided to get in shape and you want to start exercising, and that’s great. Good for you. The next question is what kind of physical activity you will choose? This will depend on many things, your physique and preferences, among others. If you’re wavering between individual and group training, though, you will have to put performance, motivation and progress into the equation. Of course, both of these programs have their own unique benefits, as well as shortcomings, so making a decision comes down to a list of pros and cons. In order to be able to make that list on firm arguments, first you must know everything you should about the similarities and differences between individual and group training.
One-on-one Model – How Does It Work?
Individual training means working one-on-one with a fitness instructor with a program based on your own physique, needs and capabilities. In some cases, the trainee will come to the gym and perform the program on its own, after they are shown how to do all the exercises properly, while in others, the instructor will be with them throughout the entire workout session. The fitness plan is designed for you, and it depends on your normal amount of physical activity (the hours you spend sitting, some other sport you are playing, etc.), weight, age, etc. You are getting all the details you need, including the list of exercises, the number of repetitions, and the wait time between your sets.
Based on this information, you can conclude that personalized fitness training has numerous benefits. Since they are tailored to your strengths, weaknesses and lifestyle, there are highly likely to be more effective than group training. Your individual goals are the main priority both for you and the instructor, so you will probably get a fitness plan that meets your specific needs. If you have suffered from a previous injury or any kind of physical issue, a personalized program will address these problems properly without putting too much stress on those muscles. Individual training is also good for “lone wolves” who prefer to exercise without the “pack”.
Downsides of Going Solo
If you are doing your workouts all alone based on the names of exercises and the number of repetitions you have written down, there’s always a chance you’ll make a mistake that can lead to injury. The lack of competitiveness you would get in a group can sometimes be dull and have negative effect on your motivation. Another con that can make many people give up on hiring a personal trainer is that individual training can be very expensive.
Working Out with the “Pack”
Group training is done with several participants, and depending on your needs you can decide for different classes/programs, such as aerobics, Pilates, interval training, total body workout, Zumba, Les Mills programs, power yoga, CrossFit, tai chi, boot camp, etc. All of them are usually done based on a fitness plan tailored to the average trainee abilities, so they require somewhat uniform tempo from all the participants. Some rely exclusively on your body weight and cardio exercises, while others require use of commercial gym equipment just as individual training.
Pros of Group Programs
If there’s one thing individual training can’t give you that group training can, that is the psychologyof group which is pushing you to constantly exceed your limits. Participants in groups are so persistent because nobody wants to be a weak link in the chain, so they have to step up to meet the demands of everyone else. That competitive edge will boost your performance and instill the desire to work harder and better. Another benefit of group programs is the fact that it’s more affordable, and it’s one of the reasons why they’re so popular. The perks of camaraderie and new friendships make this experience even more rewarding.
Shortcomings of Working out in a Group
Group training is not for everyone, and for some, the seemingly rewarding psychology of group can be very discouraging. The feeling they are not up for the challenge or they are not progressing with the same tempo as the others can make them want to give up on working out all together. On the other hand, the participants that are progressing rapidly, faster than the other members of the group, may feel their needs are neglected while the difficulty of the training is being adapt to the medium-level performers. Workouts are not made specifically for each group member, so they may not address what you actually need. The fact that group fitness training is always scheduled for some specific hours and days, means that you are adapting to them, instead of them adapting to you, can lead you to become inconsistent with your training.
So, what’s the bottom line? Both programs are good for some, and bad for some things. Now all that’s left is for you to put it on paper. Write down your pros and cons list and make a decision. Good luck!