Which is better: solo workouts or group classes? Each one has its benefits and drawbacks in relation to your preferences for exercise. If you want to get the most out of your workouts, the following comparisons may help you maximize your time at the gym.
Solo Training: Pros and Cons
Pro: When you workout solo, you have no one to focus on but yourself. Some people such as runners and swimmers especially prefer to go it alone so they can concentrate on a better pace, proper breathing techniques, form, and distance.
Con: When you workout by yourself, there is no one to help you make corrections or challenge you to anything new. While you may prefer to go it alone, there is something to be said for workout buddies and/or personal trainers.
Pro: Some people like the solitude of putting on their favorite workout music with some headphones and zoning out on the treadmill or stair climber machine for the duration of their workout. Many people prefer to do this type of exercise without distraction in order for the time to go by quicker.
Con: Wearing headphones all the time while you’re in the gym limits social interaction, which may be your aim but after awhile. Solo workouts can be kind of lonely. There’s an honor among athletes, a kinship of sorts that you are missing out on by constantly blocking out the other gym members.
Pro: Some people who prefer solo training are already completely familiar with the equipment, the facility, their workouts, proper form and so on. These seasoned athletes do not require outside motivation or pointers on how to get the most out of their workouts.
Con: Seasoned athletes who choose not to interact with others are not sharing their knowledge or experience with others. Part of fitness training is to better yourself and what better way to do this than to help others succeed when you see them struggling or just starting out? The best way to keep your skills sharp is to teach them to another person.
Group Exercise Class: Pros and Cons
Pro: Group exercise classes are a great way to meet people. You must share common interests if you’re all taking the same class. By attending a group exercise class on a regular basis, you will quickly start recognizing familiar faces and this familiarity is comforting to some people.
Con: If you’re not a “people person”, being surrounded by a hoard of sweaty class members may make you uncomfortable. If being around many people all at once is stressful for you, you won’t be able to work out to your full potential. Group classes are especially grueling for people who are shy by nature.
Pro: One of the perks to a group exercise class is that they are led by a trained instructor. The instructors usually make time before and after classes to answer any questions or address any concerns you may have about the workout.
Con: You may really enjoy the focus of the class but you many not care for the instructor. For example, you may love practicing Pilates, but if the instructor is loud or too chatty during class it can ruin your peaceful pilates experience. If this happens, try taking the same class, but at a different time of day. Chances are there will be a different instructor that you do like.
Pro: With a group class there will always be one or two people that already know the routines by heart and are the class veterans. You can look to the vets for inspiration to be better and improve your own performance in the class. Better yet, strike up a conversation with a more experienced classmate before or after class. It’s a great way to learn new things.
Con: In some group classes, there can be a hierarchy among the classmates, or worse, cliques! People with elitist attitudes can squash your aspirations like a bug. Feeling like an outcast can be depressing and make you want to quit altogether. If this happens, try to find an ally to pair up with, another new person for example. It is likely they will appreciate your friendly face.
If you’re genuinely interested in learning a new workout or skill, don’t let the cons scare you. The best way to decide which is really better is to try working out both ways and see for yourself. After all, the main reason for working out in the first place is to to be healthy.