If going to the gym has always been a solo operation for you, maybe you're asking yourself, “What am I missing without group training?” The answer depends on several factors, including your exercise goals, your approach to exercising and your need for support and guidance. Group training has its own benefits compared to exercising alone, including some you may not be aware of. Here are some reasons why group might, or might not, be your preferred way to exercise.
Group workouts are right for you if:
- You need a motivation boost. Group classes are optimized for motivation, where peer pressure is a helpful tool that gets you out of the house and working harder toward your fitness goals. The combination of supportive energy from instructors and classmates provides a huge boost that can make the difference if you are struggling to stay focused and enthusiastic.
- You want to be held accountable. Skipping a class is a lot less likely when you have your instructor and classmates to answer to. That first uncomfortable reappearance, with everyone looking at you and the unspoken shame and the mumbled excuses, is a tangible deterrent to not meeting your group exercise attendance obligations.
- Exercise variety and social stimulation appeal to you. Classes are geared toward variety and most instructors mix up their routines at least a little to keep classes fresh and vibrant. Exploring new routines as a group is part of the social aspect of a class, along with the times before and after class available to chat and mingle.
Group workouts are wrong for you if:
- Workout focus is a priority. Most group workouts are designed kind of like a grab bag: to boost their appeal, they tend to offer a little something for everyone. If you want precise focus in your workouts – a specific style of exercise, or intensely targeting specific muscles or performance goals – you are less likely to find what you are looking for. A small segment of group workouts are more focused, you can explore the availability of those programs.
- You need one-on-one help with form or technique. Larger classes almost always mean opportunities for personalized instruction will be few and far between, and in fact many group workout classes are designed to provide a taste of what you might get from the instructor in their private classes. In short, don't go to a group workout expecting to receive individualized instruction on your form or technique, it's just not gonna happen.
- You want to avoid over-training. Because participants' performance and goals vary, many group classes are designed to push toward the upper end of your limits and encourage you to do your best to keep up. If you are comfortable slowing down when you need to, it will probably work out fine. However, if you tend to push along with the instructor and follow their lead, you will probably over-train. Group training is less appropriate if you are recovering from an injury or moderating your exertion level.
Bottom line: You'll never know if group training is for you unless you try. Sign up for a couple classes and find out first hand whether group workouts are in your comfort zone.