Group Fitness: Pros & Cons

Group training can be a great way to work out without spending a ton of money on personal training. Working out with others can help you achieve your goals while maintaining motivation. Following are some benefits to group training and things to beware of when searching for what group class best fits your needs and fitness goals.

 

Pros

  • Accountability, Motivation and Support:
    • Working out with friends, or just other people generally can help keep you accountable. In fact, many people find that even just the instructor knowing who they are is enough to hold them accountable and make sure they attend class regularly. Group training offers both motivation and support from fellow participants and the instructor.
    • Our lives are busy between work, home life and trying to fit everything else into a day. Group training can be a great way to incorporate social time into your workout time.
  • Structure:
    • For many people it’s not motivation, or even time, that keeps them out of the gym, it’s lack of knowledge regarding what to do. The fitness industry is saturated with trends and conflicting information. For many, this leads to feeling of helplessness as to what to do when they get into the gym. Group training takes the stress off you to come up with your programing. The instructor has taken the guesswork out of designing the workout. You just show up and work hard.
  • Fun, variety & efficiency:
    • Most often, the format of group classes is a circuit style workout. This means that you’re doing a variety of exercises for a short period of time before moving on to the next thing. In a good class, the exercises will be creative and fun. The intense nature of a circuit also helps the time fly by. Circuit style workouts also incorporate cardio, which means group classes usually have a dual benefit of strength training and cardio in one workout.
    • Other types of group training can include yoga and spin where generally the same sequence is done in each class, but with instructor’s variation and style. This is also a great way to keep variety in.

 

Cons

  • Class sizes:
    • Depending on where you choose take classes, there can be upwards of 20+ people per class. With only one instructor, this means that you won’t receive the individual attention required to ensure you’re using proper form. This can increase the risk of injury. Be sure to choose somewhere that offers small class sizes. Alternatively, if you choose larger classes be sure to choose exercise that doesn’t involve high risk exercises or complexity.
    • A lack of instruction is most dangerous to those new to fitness. It can reinforce bad movement patterns and create a habit that will be harder to break later on.
  • One size fits all fitness:
    • Group fitness means everyone does the same workout. This can mean that you have a wide range of abilities in one class and, especially if you’re new to fitness, it might be too hard to begin with. This is why it is important to find an instructor who can quickly offer modifications and adjustments depending on your current fitness level. This simply isn’t possible in a large group setting.
  • Under-educated Instructors:
    • Unlike personal trainers, almost anyone can teach a group fitness class. It’s important to check your instructor’s certifications to ensure they’re qualified. They don’t necessarily need a degree to be qualified, but they should have some education under their belt.
  • Too much variety:
    • Variety is good, but in order to get better, you need to have some sort of consistency in how you’re training. A good group class will build on prior classes so that there is a measurable improvement week to week. Too much variety will mean that you don’t make any real progress.

 

All in all, group training can be a cost-effective way to get a more focused and efficient workout in. The most important thing is to find a class that is small enough to allow the instructor to pay close attention to all participants and one that structures classes so that you improve over the weeks.

 

Shara Vigeant, BA, NSCA-CPT, CFSC

SVPT Fitness & Athletics

May 5, 2019