As both a personal trainer and a group fitness instructor here in Chicago, I spend time developing plans and training individuals as well as putting on a microphone and yelling at larger groups to “SHOW ME THAT INTENSITY.” Both are rewarding and both are important in the fitness community. Choosing between personal training or group fitness generally comes down to personal preference and a person’s individual goals.
Both individual training and group fitness share the same main goals of improved fitness levels and overall health. The way that these two options choose to accomplish these goals, however, can be different. Take a look at the following aspects of both to help you determine which might be the best option for you.
You get one-on-one attention: A personal trainer is there for YOU. During a training session, all of his or her attention is focused on you to make sure that you are achieving the best possible outcome during a session. You may even strike up a rapport with your trainer and end up discussing your life goals and current stressors.
You’ll be held accountable by one person: Committing to working with a trainer means that you have to show up. Canceling at the last minute usually means late fees or a cancellation charge, so you are less likely to hit that snooze button in the morning. Having a trainer push you to finish those last few reps is also much more motivating than staring at yourself in a mirror.
You can focus on your individual goals: Prior to starting your sessions with a personal trainer, he or she will meet with you to determine your individual goals. This allows the trainer to develop a personalized exercise routine structured to help you achieve those goals. Make sure to be honest with your trainer about what you want and expect in order to get the most out of your time together.
You’ll pay closer attention to form and detail: Working one on one with a trainer ensures that attention will be paid to your form during each exercise. Injuries are less likely to happen when a trained professional is able to dedicate all of his or her attention to your form. Correcting any imbalances will also ensure that each muscle group is being worked to its full potential during each exercise.
You can modify for injury: Your personal trainer will be aware of any injuries that you may have and structure each workout accordingly. Knee injuries, for example, may mean avoiding movements involving jumping or putting too much pressure on the joint.
You’ll be able to do more technical exercises: Training in a gym or studio allows access to a number of different weight machines. By working with a personal trainer, you are able to utilize machines and exercises that may not be appropriate in a group setting. You will also be able to perform more technical exercises that are form-dependent (e.g., deadlifts). Doing such exercises in a group setting may not allow for proper form correction and could increase your risk for injury if you are not familiar with a movement.
Enjoy a group setting: Some people do not feel comfortable working out one-on-one and prefer the energy and excitement that comes from a group setting. The music, the motivation, and the energy of those around you may be what gets people to work out consistently.
Classes are more affordable: Group fitness is generally less expensive than individual personal training sessions. For those of you who may be on a budget, group fitness is a great way to get in a workout while saving some dough.
The group will hold you accountable: Working out in a group means that there are others around you at all times. It is harder to give up and quit a workout when you see others working their hardest to continue. Signing up for a workout with a friend also helps keep you accountable and less likely to let him or her down. There’s also nothing like crushing a workout and showing some love to the person next to you.
It’s social: On top of the motivation and accountability that comes from group fitness, there is the element of socialization. By consistently showing up to classes, you will start to make friends with regulars that may even translate to friendships outside the walls of the studio or gym. You already have one thing in common which makes it easy to break the ice and strike up a conversation.
You’ll improve your general fitness: While some group classes are geared towards specific goals, many of them focus on general fitness level improvements. Many people taking a class translates into many different fitness goals, so unless you take a class geared specifically towards core or lower body work for example, you will most likely be getting a great total body workout (which is great too!).
Although there are differences between the two, both personal training and group fitness are important for a healthy lifestyle. There is also no reason why one should be done over the other. It’s a matter of personal preference and many people actually partake in both.
For my personal workout plan, I have a combination of individual sessions that I plan myself and group classes that I use to push myself past what I may be capable of doing on my own. Days when I don’t feel as motivated to hit the gym but know I want to work out are great for group classes because then I tend to push myself in a group of amazing people who inspire me.
What’s your preference between personal training and group fitness?