Individualized programming is the best way to train. Period. You will see the best results by having a solid personal trainer tailoring a program that is specific to you. However, if working out in a group setting motivates you to be active, group fitness and group training programs can be great options too.
Community accountability is a large pro of both group fitness and group training programs, however group fitness is not optimized for making gains towards your fitness goals. Here’s a breakdown of what you need to know about group exercise:
What Are Group Fitness Classes?
Group fitness classes are a hallmark of big box gyms, are usually free with your gym membership, and focus heavily on cardio and quick transitions to different movements that feel fun and engaging. These classes don’t have to use weights, but when they do, they use light weighted movements. There are some pros to group fitness classes, but because of their structure, they won’t actually lend toward any major fitness gains in the long term.
The Pros Of Group Exercise
A great benefit of group fitness classes is the community aspect, and helps people show up and stay consistent with their workout routine. Showing up to see friends and knowing that other people are putting in the work is motivating. You also have the group fitness instructor pushing everyone in the class,which creates a singular mindset feel in the group.
The Cons Of Group Exercise
A big drawback of group fitness classes is the actual programming. Most of the time, “strength” group fitness classes are not actually strength training. You’re basically doing cardio with weights – moving from one movement to another and/or you’re doing 30+ reps for one set instead of implementing real reps, sets, and rest in actual strength training.
Another drawback of group fitness classes are the diminishing returns. This means that if you keep doing the same thing every day or week, you’re going to stop seeing progress because your body will adapt to the stimulus you’re giving it. With the group fitness programs, there is no rhyme or reason to how the instructor is structuring the class. You’re working with limited weights without workouts structured specifically for you, so there isn’t much room to progress your movements.
What Is Group Fitness Training?
The main difference between fitness classes and group fitness training is that there is actual fitness programming involved, even if it isn’t individualized. Examples of this are CrossFit, bootcamp classes, and online programs. There are also powerlifting and strongman gyms that offer classes for their specific sport.
The best way to engage with group fitness training is with a small group of less than 10 people, so you get that little bit of coaching even in a group setting. If the class is sports specific, even better, because you’ll typically learn all the foundational movements like squatting, hinging, pulling, etc.
Group Fitness Classes vs Group Fitness Training
Group fitness training is much better for overall fitness than gym group fitness classes because training programming most likely includes actual strength training with sets, reps, rest periods, etc. And, if you’re going to a specialized gym you might get access to some cool equipment.
The Pros Of Group Training
Group coaching or programming is also an affordable option and the next best thing if you can’t afford the one-on-one, individualized programming you get with a personal trainer. However, expect to pay more than your average commercial gym monthly cost.
At a big box gym, you pay anywhere between $20-60 per month and get to go to the group fitness classes for free. Group programming is usually $150-$250 a program. However, it can’t be stressed enough that in the fitness world, you get what you pay for.
Like Group fitness, group training also comes with the bonus of community. A lot of people want an in-person community, and will join group crossfit classes or group progressive strength classes to get that. These people will typically see progress, especially if the coach is willing to individualize aspects of the program.
The Cons Of Group Training
The most progress you’ll see comes from a completely unique program that is built for YOU. Taking into account your training history, stress levels, body size, age, experience, injuries, weaknesses, and goals.
Another option for individualized coaching with a community at an affordable price is remote coaching. Remote coaching will tend to implement some form of community accountability. For instance, we have The Stronger Than Your Boyfriend Facebook Group, that our clients utilize and can post in at any time. Other remote coaches have chat groups and channels for their clients, so they can build community.
The Bottom Line On Group Exercise vs Group Training
A group program that incorporates progressive overload and has some element of individual attention to form is going to get you far more results than group fitness classes every single time. Group fitness classes are random and utilize movements that might be fun and engaging, but they aren’t optimal for your fitness goals.
We created a virtual fitness program that incorporates progressive overload, individual attention, and a community feel for people who are looking for an affordable option. Click here to find out more.
Learn more about group fitness and training on the Stronger Than Your Boyfriend Podcast: Episode #79 – Group Fitness vs Group Programs