There are so many different ways to exercise, from taking a large class to doing personal sessions, but it can be hard to know which way to go to. Here, we'll break down the pros and cons of each type of training to get a better handle on what type of exercise might work best for you.
1. Large group classes. There are a lot of benefits to taking large group classes. They range in variety from bootcamps to Zumba and are regularly offered as part of box gym memberships or at gyms specifically designed to do group classes.
Schedule. If you are the type of person who struggles with making time to workout, a class might be the way to go. It's a predetermined time frame in which you have to attend and for a specific amount of time. You know at the end of the 30 minutes or hour long sessions, it will be done and you'll be out the door.
Classes are specifically scheduled within the gym and trainer's hours so you have to go when class is available, leaving less room to push off exercising for another 10-15 minutes or a whole other day. If you don't go, you aren't taking advantage of the classes that you've paid for.
Community. There's a built in sense of community. If you're more motivated to exercise when it's a communal experience, this is a great way to do it. Everyone is going through the same experience at the exact same time, leading to a sense of togetherness as you physically push yourselves.
It can lead to new friendships, so if you're new to an area or want to branch out of your current friend circle a group class can help make that happen. There's also a built in sense of accountability. When the people you see on a weekly basis can ask you why you missed last class so you may be less likely to skip after a long day and seeing your gym friends might help you curb the excuses as to why it's too hard to make it to class.
Cost. They tend to be less expensive. Since you aren't the only one paying for the trainer's time and expertise, classes tend to be cheaper (think $100-$200 a month as oppose to $80-$100 per session). This can be great if you're on a budget, just getting into working out or don't have a hyper-specific goal that you're looking to achieve.
Individual attention. When you're training with a large group, you're less likely to get individual attention. There are usually a lot of people in one room, anywhere from 12-40 individuals, and only one trainer.
Form is everything when it comes to exercise, so if that Romanian Deadlift is causing a nagging pain in your low back, you're less likely to get attentive form correction and more likely to get a few quick cues to help correct the problem before the trainer needs to move on to help one of twenty to thirty other people in the room.
Individual goals. Large group training is aimed at getting the most effective workouts for all types of people with all types of goals.
If you have a very specific goal, such as building your shoulders or adding 100 lbs to your bench press, this type of training may not be right for you. All training is not created equal and if you have goals that need very specific programming to achieve them, you probably won't get that from a large group class that is intended to work for more general goals.
2. Small Group Training.
Small group training is the middle ground between large group classes and one-on-one personal training. With this, it's likely that you'll be training with a very small group of 3 or 4 other people with similar goals.
Once again, it's scheduled. Similar to large classes, it's a scheduled event that's at a set time that works for everyone in your group. Missing out means wasted money and no real opportunity to make it up, so this may be another good option if you need an external motivator, like putting your hard earned cash down or a strict time-frame, to carve out time for yourself to exercise.
Community. Usually you'll be paired up with friends, family or a group of individuals with similar goals to yours and since there are less of you, you're more likely to be noticed if you've gone missing. It may also be easier to motivate yourself to show up since these are people you may have a pre-existing relationship. You have to be there to cheer each other on.
A little more individual attention. Since there are less people, you're more likely to get more thorough coaching than you would in a large group. It still won't be as much attention as you would one-on-one, but you sacrifice a little bit of that to reduce the cost of training.
Cost. It will be a bit more expensive than a class (though not as expensive as personal training), but as with the point above, you'll get closer to the benefits of personal training, like more coaching to your needs, than you would in a group class.
Individual Attention. While you may get more attention than you would in a large group, you are still sharing the trainer's attention with a few other people. You're likely to get more time spent on coaching you through a movement, but that time is still shared with others and you may be working out in a circuit with other people, meaning while one person is squatting the others are doing something else, so the trainer may prioritize the most complex movement to keep their eyes on.
Specific Goals. You'll likely pair up with people that share similar goals, but training operates similar to a class setting. Everyone will usually be doing the same or similar exercises to fit the general goal and exercise capabilities of the group. Again, if you have something very specific that you want to achieve, you may not see those results through this type of training.
This option is as individualized as it gets. One-on-one sessions mean that you are getting the sole attention of the trainer and the training is designed for you, your goals and to address your weaknesses.
Custom Programming. For specific goals, this is the best route to go. If you are looking to build muscle, train up specific body parts, get stronger or lose weight, your trainer will be able to give you exercises that specifically target the areas you want to work on or improve.
They will be able to identify your weaknesses to help you train them up, work with you individually on strategies to adhere to training and diet and educate you on the specifics of what you are doing and why.
Attention. When you have an issue with an exercise, aren't feeling it where you should or need form correction, you have 100% of your trainers attention to work with you to improve. They will be able to give you direct feedback after every set or exercise, work with you on cues until you get it right and adapt and modify the training as needed without having to divert attention to anyone else.
Cost. The cost of personal training can be quite high. Usually you are paying an hourly rate per session or buying a package of sessions. Due to paying for the trainers time and expertise and depending on the other costs the trainer needs to expend, such as gym space rentals and travel, the cost can be considerably higher, but a good trainer is worth it if it will help you rreach your goals faster and with knowledge.
Community. One on one sessions don't have the built in community that classes or small groups do. If you're more likely to show up, because your friends will be there, this may not be the right option for you. On the other hand, you do have one person, your trainer who will know that you didn't train. Sometimes that can be enough accountability on it's own.