Archive for the tag - individual training

Lacking Results in Group Classes.

Hey Davey Wavey,

A couple of years ago, I started attending fitness classes and have increased the amount of classes I do over time. I now do 6-8 classes per week, each at an hour. Some of the classes involve weight training and others are cardio.

While the classes helped me slim down and build some muscle, I’m at a stand-still and am not noticing any changes. Am I doing something wrong?


Hey Peter,

I’m not at all surprised by your situation - and it’s actually very common. Fitness classes are fun, informative and a great way to get started or to add variety to your workout. But because it’s in a group setting, it’s hard to build a class around one person’s specific goals.

Your goal may be to build muscle. The person next to you may be looking to lose weight. Moreover, your ability levels could vary greatly. Ideally, the instructor would be working with the two of you very differently - but, in a class, everyone gets lumped together.

Breaking through fitness plateaus involves taking your workout to the next level - but, since new people are always coming into a class, it’s unlikely that the instructor will increase the intensity of the program. With classes, participants tend to get more of the same, day after day and week after week. If you’re just looking for maintenance, then this is great. But if you’re looking to build on your results, group classes almost always fall short.

If you’re serious about building muscle, then you’ll want to spend some time training with machines and free weights. Because free weight exercises are so specific, take time to setup (i.e., loading the weights, etc.) and require space and equipment, most classes exclude them. You might find a class with light dumbbells, but I’ve yet to see a class that incorporates, for example, the bench press.

It sounds like you’re ready to take your workout to the next level - and, if I were in your shoes, I’d scale back the number of classes that I take in exchange for some individual workout sessions. Ideally, it may make sense to higher a trainer for a week or two to help put together a customized program.

Having said that, group classes are still great for adding variety to a workout, and an effective way for gym newbies to get acclimated to exercise.


Group Fitness Classes Vs. Individual Training.

Dear Davey,

For the last 2 months I have been working out through class exercise groups and have had great results. Currently I do 3 days of spin class for cardio and 3 days of BodyPump for strength training. I love my classes, but I am starting to plateau. Is it time to break away from the class atmosphere and start my own individual workout routine?


Hey Kevin,

As you’ve discovered, group fitness classes are great. I like group classes for a number of reasons:

  1. They are fun!
  2. The instructor pushes you.
  3. You learn new exercises.
  4. You can socialize and make friends.
  5. They’re great at building confidence and skill for beginners.
  6. They hold you to a regular schedule.
  7. The instructor can teach proper technique.

But for more advanced exercisers, it’s often advantageous to focus the bulk of your workout on individual training. I, for example, take a group class or two per week - but most of my training is individual.


As an exerciser, you have individual goals. If you’ve never taken the time to actually articulate and write down those goals, it’s definitely something that I’d recommend. When you’re in a group class, each person in that class also has a set of goals; these goals may or may not be in alignment with what you’re looking to achieve. Moreover, each person is operating from a different level of fitness - and each person has their own set of health issues or complications. Considering all this, the instructor will put together a very general fitness program, but it’s not necessarily the most effective program to deliver on your goals.

The BodyPump class, for example, may be focused on muscle endurance - and you may be looking to build muscle size, specifically in your biceps. It’s very easy to achieve this in an individual setting, but it’s not something you’ll get in a group setting. Or, perhaps, you have a specific muscular imbalance that needs to be addressed. It’s unlikely to be corrected through a group class.

If the transition from group classes to individual training seems scary or overwhelming, I recommend giving yourself the gift of a personal trainer. Even if you book a handful of sessions, the trainer will be able to put together a great workout program for you and show you how proper technique. Or, you can always download my Ultimate Guide to Working Out to create a custom workout program around your goals.

I’m not trying to discount group classes; they can be a wonderful and very effective - especially for beginners. But for more advanced exercisers, focusing on individual training will provide the best results.