Fitness Classes or Personal Training?

Posted March 4th, 2021 in Article

When starting on your fitness journey this may be one of the initial questions you ask yourself, considering what will be the best fit for you. Making the commitment to yourself to make exercise part of your life and building a routine which works for you is a really important start. Prior to the changes we have all experienced over the last year, many people may have started their own journey by signing up for gym membership or at a smaller studio. This in itself may have felt like a challenge and then actually registering for an induction at the gym, or meeting with a personal trainer for a consultation or tow show you basic movements on a machine or with free weights may seem even more daunting, especially if you are a complete novice. Likewise, signing up for a new class, whether that was indoor group fitness, when that was available, or as is now the case, virtually, may push you out of your comfort zone. Those initial thoughts surrounding how to get started are incredibly normal and quite often the need for additional motivation may mean you end up signing up to personal training sessions or a block session for classes.

As an individual you may have a specific goal you’d like to achieve or feel more comfortable in one situation that the other. It may be important to you that you can have a personal fitness plan developed and tailored by a personal trainer who has the skills and experience to listen to your goals, assess your posture, work to modify any exercises due to injuries, build confidence in your ability to complete the session and help you create solid building blocks for you to also train independently with the skills and knowledge you’re developing. That is amongst other things such as motivation, structured sessions and a rapport which keeps you engaged. It may also help achieve a mild sense of satisfaction that your muscles are still talking to you the following morning, but that you are getting to the stage that you actually enjoy the feeling! If you have had personal training sessions before then maybe this resonates with you. Perhaps you’ve tried personal trainers before but never stuck with it. Obviously, as with any exercise plan it is important to have a realistic goal. This includes nutrition and exercise (and sorry to say one session with a PT a week may not have the immediate results you thought possible!). A personal trainer may be able to offer guidance on nutrition, challenge you physically by building the strength or endurance to help you to complete exercises you have not done before with proper form and technique. Maybe you’d like to achieve a specific goal such as muscle strength, tone, cardiovascular fitness and a general feeling of being more confident in your ability to train and this may also give you a different appreciation for what you are able to do. As a trainer, when I hear clients say they have also started to incorporate more exercise in to their daily routine such as cycle or taking the opportunity to try something new, then I feel like that I am doing my job. It is not just about a PT being the one hour a week someone exercises, but if this is a client new to exercise or one who just wishes to get some additional help to achieve a specific goal, then to be that person who encourages, motivates and inspires to invest more time in themselves and have the confidence to explore other forms of exercise too is incredibly rewarding.

Maybe signing up for a personal training session means you may feel more accountable. Maybe you have limited time available from work or commitments at home and this is the valuable time and space you need. If it is just you and a trainer you can’t just slip out of the door in the studio, or log off from your virtual class, you are there with the primary focus on helping to motivate you on your fitness journey to achieve things you maybe hadn’t realised you could! I have offered PT online and also one to one, distanced in an outdoor space. I genuinely think this time has been an incredible opportunity for people to take an hour or 45 minutes to themselves. To be able to continue to motivate people at this time and support and motivate them to continue on their fitness journey is really special. With light at the end of the tunnel with regards to current restrictions lifting I think the value of this time and effort may feel more important than ever.

Group fitness, this is where it all started for me, when thong leotards over cycle shorts were actually a look for an aerobics classes (what a cringeworthy admission and yes that ages me!) Exercise to music was my introduction and initial route in to the industry and still holds a special place in my heart. Obviously since then I have done a lot of further studying and gained a lot of experience in many different areas in the fitness industry.

I remember my first group exercise class and what drew me to it, being part of a group, not really being able to just stop or leave if I wasn’t feeling too energetic, the music, the fun, the challenging exercises or choreography. I just loved it and felt this was a fit for me. But I do remember feeling nervous standing at the back of the room looking around, with the perception everyone knows each other, or at the very least what they are doing. The aerobics instructor welcoming everyone and putting on the music and motivating everyone with great choreography or a challenging lower body or floor work sequence and adding in a few whoops (I was never that girl and rarely that instructor). Generally speaking I always left the class on a high and looking like a sweaty mess. But I was happy to have been part of that group and positive energy.

I didn’t have a gym membership then, so personal training wasn’t an option, again it was before the boom in the industry where people were setting up on their own and also that was not viable for me as a student at that time. I felt I had found my happy place in this environment and eventually started to stand little closer to the front of the class as I felt more confident. Until I had the opportunity to harness this passion and take the step towards becoming a fitness instructor myself. Over the many years of teaching I still observe students who become regulars, noticing when they start feeling more comfortable near the front, or just on the spot they always are in class. I am sure you have all noticed that too, people rushing in to class to get their spot! Another reason why virtual classes work so well. People are working out in their own space where they already feel comfortable.  I used to do a few other sessions in the week which were (shock, horror) on video! Not even DVD! So I used to fast forward to a particular session on minute 30 of the video for the 20 minute blast, step workout or floor work. Even then I really enjoyed adding the variety to my routine. Today feels like the other end of the spectrum in terms of accessibility to exercise. In this respect to still be able to achieve a live group fitness training session is incredible. Every time it still makes me excited to be a group fitness instructor and motivate groups to work towards their fitness goals and capture that positive energy in that time online.

The last year has brought a new challenge for both PT and group fitness, both of which are now delivered virtually and I have been lucky enough to be involved in both with Zest Live! which offer both. The connections, be it on a one to one basis or group have never been so important and whether you’re a client or instructor/trainer the virtual world has become a very special place to share a passion for fitness and well being, community, accountability and time away from the reality of the current situation. I am grateful from my perspective to have been able to share my love for fitness, skills and experience.

Fitness is not about a one size fits all approach. We all have our comfort zones and where we think we can thrive, but sometimes taking a leap of faith and combining both may bring unexpected interest in another form of fitness you may not have considered as an option. A personal training client participating in a group class and having the confidence to try something new or a group fitness client who has enquired about PT because they liked the class or style of teaching and exercises they’ve experienced and were interested in building their fitness levels or working towards a specific goal. It doesn’t matter how you started your fitness journey or what you thought you could do, its the commitment you made to yourself, the motivation to achieve your goal, or just have some time with a trained professional designing a class or program which challenges you and keeps you engaged and clicking that link for the class or training that is the important thing.

I have been lucky to work with some incredible personal trainers and instructors and be trained by some incredibly inspiring trainers myself. To continue to expand my knowledge and experience to be able to share that and a positive energy with clients is what I strive to achieve. Over the years some of the biggest compliments which I think are doing just that include: Students who were inspired and wanted to build a career out of their passion for fitness and qualify as a group exercise instructor or personal trainer. Asking my opinion on their plans or for guidance in their studies has always been something I have been really proud to be able to help with. I think those things make this the most incredible job. Another example has been meeting students in a group class who have approached me to train one to one. Or if I have been working with someone on a one to one basis, outside of a gym environment, then they have built the confidence to join a gym, studio, or now commit to exercising in group fitness classes virtually really makes me recognise someones achievements. That may be recognising that they have built their confidence to try something new, or that they are committed to doing a little more than even they thought they would ever want to do. Zest Live offers an incredible timetable of classes, so maybe it is time to try something new, or consider adding a few PT sessions to your schedule. You may feel more comfortable doing one or other, however, the combination of the two may be that extra motivation to reach new goals and a happier, healthier you.