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Classes or personal trainer: what's best for you?

There are lots of choices out there when it comes to fitness. One of which concerns the size of the training session (1/1 or group). Here is the lowdown on classes and personal training to help you pick.

Class based fitness. From Ashtanga yoga to Insanity, there are many options which can be great as motivators and tasters for new things until you settle for one. Classes happen in a social environment, so they are fun if you like to exercise in a group (but not if you are uncomfortable exercising in front of others). Generally, classes are good value. I used to attend a commercial gym and would book 2/3 classes every week. The issues I found with classes, were progression and form correction (how well and safely you do the exercises). The format of a class is not geared towards progression as the customer base changes regularly and the goals can vary from individual to individual. Although the workouts can change, these are primarily here to make you move, not achieve your goal(s). There simply is not the time to spend with everyone in a group without slowing down the class dynamics and for a newcomer to fitness this can be quite off-putting. Be especially wary of classes where you lift weights. If you lift weights with an incorrect posture or insufficient strength, you could do more damage than good.

Personal training. More expensive than classes but worth it for all the progress and portable knowledge you’ll gain. We all know a personal trainer plans your sessions to help you reach your goal (s). What is not advertised enough is how a good PT will gauge, through knowing you, what exercises are right for you, what fitness elements are slowing you down (balance, strength…), how well your body responds to certain warmups (drills) and crucially how they’ll make your workout more efficient by correcting form where necessary. You should also be offered variations for practice at home and a regular change of stimulus (equipment change, increase in weight etc…) to ensure true progress. Personal training is a more educational route which will allow you to take a flow of exercises home so there is continuity if you want it. And this portable knowledge is something that can be used as a base for your own physical development.

In short, classes are good value and can be used for active fun as part of a fitness regimen where weight loss is a goal. Personal training is result driven and geared toward specific goals. The fun you have will depend on how you get into your training!

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