Why Group Classes Might Not be Enough for your Fitness

Bootcamps and group classes are good for a few things. They are:

  1. social,
  2. fun,
  3. and they motivate you to work harder than you otherwise might.

But they have their limits. They do not:

  1. take into consideration your specific physical weaknesses, limitations or goals,
  2. nor are they all that effective in prescribing specific intensities to ensure you’re getting the most effective stimulus to promote physical adaptations.
  3. Also, it’s next to impossible for group class programming to be a complete training program, as people come and go as they please, often missing important sessions each week. Essentially, you’re at the mercy of a generic fitness program for the general population, which isn’t a bad thing; it just doesn’t maximize the use of your time.
  4. And they certainly do not promote a one-on-one relationship with a mentor coach to help you with a long-term fitness plan.

Because of this, many people whose fitness revolves entirely around bootcamps or group classes dont stick with it for long. Some sign up for a bootcamp as a New Years resolution attempt to kick their butt into gear. Others hit group classes regularly for a while, but eventually they grow bored and lose interest, often after growing frustrated when fitness gains stop coming as fast as they used to. 

What we have discovered over the past decade is that a hybrid model of fitness works bestone that includes group classes (to give you your social and competitive kick), as well as personal training, and a personalized individual program that caters to your strengths and weaknesses and goals. 

Along these same lines, this is what world-renowned fitness expert James FitzGeraldthe winner of the first ever CrossFit Games in 2007 and the current owner of Opex Fitness in Arizonahad to say about group classes: They work for a bit, but eventually the honeymoon period ends and then people need more individualized attention!

When people stop adapting to generic programming, it means they need a coach to give them a more specific plan. So if youre not adapting quickly anymore, get some individual instruction,he said. 

In fact, FitzGerald believes there will be a general shift away from group classes in the near future as its not whats best for fitness. 

I have already seen it. More and more coaches are offering individual programming. People recognize people need more than group classes," he said.

Heres how a combination of personal training, group classes and individual program design is best for your long-term health, wellness and fitness

3. Group Classes:

  • Doing group classes two to three times a week is useful for providing a social, competitive environment that helps you feel connected to a greater community.
  • Its a time to work hard together, share a laugh or two, and make lifelong friends in the process (much better than the anti-social Globo gym where nobody knows your name). 
  • It also helps you stay accountable; if youre meeting a friend to hit the 4 p.m. class, youre not going to bail no matter how tired you are after work. 

2. Personal training: 

  • For new athletes, personal allows you to learn complex movements at a pace that is right for you. One-on-one attention is proven to be the best way to learn. After 10-20 initial personal training sessions, you’ll have a better understanding of the movements you were taught—as well as your own fitness level—than you would if you went through a group introductory program. 
  • For veteran athletes, it allows you to get additional one-on-one coaching for specific skills—often the more technical ones—you want extra help with.
  • And if you’re ever injured, personal training can become a rehab session, so you don’t need to abandon your gym routine during this time (we have found that an injured athlete in group classes tends to work around his or her injury, where as personal training is better to help you actually heal from your injury).
  • One-on-one time also allows your coach to cater to your physical and emotional limitations and goals, not only to help keep you safe, but also to keep you motivated, and to provide specific movements and intensities that are going to help maximize your development.
  • It allows you to develop a relationship with your coach—a health and wellness mentor in your corner—to keep you accountable to your goals for years to come. 
  • It gives you the chance to get one-on-one help in other aspects of life, such as nutrition—another concept that differs from individual to individual, and is therefore best tackled in a one-on-one setting. 

1. Individual programming:

  • Individual programming allows you to get the most bang for your buck with a training plan, essentially providing you with ‘homework,’ so to speak, that will help you maximize your time at the gym each day, ensuring you’re working on specific things that will help you continue to improve your health and fitness. For example, do you need more stability or more mobility? More speed and power, or more endurance training? Individual programs allow you to spend more time on what you need more of. 

So if your training consists of group classes and nothing else, think about contacting your coach to find out how you can best maximize your time at the gym, and ultimately your progress.