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From F45 to Bikram Yoga, group fitness is exploding in popularity. Mainstream group training classes are being packed out at prime times across the country and there seems to be nothing stopping group fitness from being the fastest growing training experience. It’s not unusual to see any type of training facility heavily promoting this form of training over everything else they offer. So why all the hype? Why does group training have so much market prevalence? Well there are certainly some valid reasons for group training you have no doubt heard about. However, there are also some others considerations in favour of more private training that you probably have not considered either. Whether you’re a group training junkie or a solo gym rat, you have no doubt seen the difference in group training for better or for worse.  Is group training better than training solo or is training solo the better way to go? Well we will explore the pros and cons of group training when compared to private training and let you come to your own conclusion.

 

PROS:

1. MOTIVATION

It’s hard to question the shared atmosphere and drive of group training session. Everyone doing a common workout towards a common goal is very motivating for most. The atmosphere and comradery of group training coupled with vibrant instructors who rev it all up for everybody are unquestionably important elements in the success of this form of training. Add music and a tempo to the mixture and you have a very dynamic training environment.

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2. VARIETY

Group training definetly promotes itself as a variety and fun based training model that is an alternative to a dull and old routine most people would often do themselves when training alone. And, with a constantly growing number of group exercise offerings on the market, there’s bound to be a group session to suit whatever mood you find yourself in. The lead trainers usually vary from session to session as well making an often ‘common’ class seem quite different depending on whose teaching.

 

3. ACCOUNTABILITY

Getting out of bed to train dark and early in the morning or finishing the day with a workout after a long hard slog at work certainly does require some will power. However, the thought of having 10-30 other people doing exactly the same thing does tend to throw most excuses out the window. The thought of letting friends and classmates down if you’re not there with them is also a driving factor on most group trainees minds when considering to show up for the session or not.

 

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CONS:

1. LACK OF INDIVIDUAL PROGRAMMING

The variety group sessions offer may help you counter boredom and add the ‘fun’ element to your training. However, this can also be a double-edge sword long term as there is no consistency from session to session and you could actually see yourself doing everything but targeting nothing. Since by nature group training sessions are written for everyone and not specifically for you, they will often fail to address individual differences or weaknesses. For instance, the session may be focused predominantly on a fitness quality such as metabolic conditioning when you as an individual may need to address strength. Certain muscles groups also get emphasised over others and these often do not align with your own weak points – for instance a lot of group training programs tend to emphasise movements for the quads (e.g. squats and lunges) when performing lower body work and not the muscles of the hips (think deadlift and hip extension exercises).

 

2. LESS ATTENTION TO EXERCISE TECHNIQUE

Often with one trainer servicing multiple participants in a group session, the instructor usually runs out of eyes to watch and correct everyone with the exercise technique. This not only means the exercises will be less effective if they are not performed correctly but there is also a greater chance of injuries and muscular imbalances being developed as people start to dominate movements with the wrong muscle groups and poor posture. Private training in a one-on-one setting definitely has the edge over group training in this department. Private training also has provides a quicker learning curve for participants as all attention is placed on one individual and correcting any imbalances and technique errors before they develop.

3. OVERTRAINING POTENTIAL

An energised atmosphere full of comradery can definitely be motivating and push most individuals beyond their normal limits. However this can also have its downside. Group exercise programs (particularly many boot camps) often have a “work yourself to failure” mindset. This notion may motivate participants initially, yet it is not a safe and sustainable mantra long term. Frequenting too many group training sessions with mindset of emptying the tank completely each and every time is a good recipe for burnout and overtraining syndrome. Well set you up for a case of overtraining. The chances of this happening in a private training situation are less because the participant is more individually monitored. Group sessions also have a mix of both beginners and veterans all in the same space often doing the same workout. Whilst some people may be well conditioned and only working at 80%, other more unseasoned specimens may be working at 110%.

WEIGHING IT ALL UP

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Group exercise definitely has its perks and is great way to keep motivated and accountable. The social element and the shared enjoyment it derives is a powerful part of group training and its growing popularity. Although group training has its advantages, there are some things to be mindful of as an individual. It takes experience and good discernment to not get burned out and push yourself too hard too frequently. Exercise form and working on weak points also requires a lot of discipline and monitoring that a lot of people simply don’t have in this setting. You may be thinking now that there is only a trade off when it comes to involving yourself in either private training or group training. However, it doesn’t necessarily need to be viewed that way and there is definitely a way to get the best of both worlds. As a trainer myself, I suggest clients program group training into their schedule alongside a structured workout program that is individualised for them. This way, you will still get all the benefits from group exercise whilst at the same time working on your individual weaknesses in order to progress you’re training effectively long term.

What kind of fitness animal are you?