When it comes to shredding the fat and putting on muscle, there are two main options available to us: training solo in a gym, or training with others at a group-based facility. But which is best for you? Both have their pros and cons (and your fitness goals will likely inform your decision), but to help make it that little bit easier, we’ve spoken to personal trainers from both sides, to get their take on what makes each one beneficial to our health.
Dean Jamieson is the owner of Lean Performance Gym in Taren Point, Sydney. It’s a class-based facility with a six-day timetable, as well as specific training for surfers. We asked him what Lean Performance can offer clients, and how he believes it’s a better route to take to achieve your fitness goals.
He starts by saying that in his experience, “…the standard of group training is typically quite low, however at Lean Performance, we are super focussed on changing that.”
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“We program each session and run four-week strength & conditioning training blocks with the focus on increasing physical performance and getting leaner.”
He adds that a class-based gym can offer a much clearer route to improving your fitness, “each time you enter the [Lean Performance] gym, you don’t have to think, we have that for you, and then we coach you through it to ensure your technique is sound, this way we always make gains in training performance.”
“You’re less likely to injure yourself and far more likely to achieve great results.”
He compares this approach to that of large, commercial gyms, “they offer cheap memberships, which is great, but with that comes very little support.”
“What am I training today; am I doing this correctly; why aren’t I getting better? Are questions that pop up when progress is slow. However, at a group training gym with good coaches, you can get your answers very easily.”
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Not only can a group-based gym offer a faster route to peak fitness in Dean’s opinion, but it provides you with a new social community, “Many group training gyms have built awesome communities when you get that community feel it can also drive results.”
“We have seen lifetime friendships built through training, we see members keep each other accountable to their goals.”
“When training in a positive environment, training is fun!”
On the flip side, Ben Lucas, former NRL player for the Cronulla Sharks and founder of Flow Athletic says that ‘regular’ gyms are great “if you are motivated, will do the work and you have a program to follow.”
He adds that gyms are in some ways going to be more beneficial for you as “you can tailor a program to your body and specific needs, whereas classes are generally programmed for the group, not the individual.”
Ben also tells us that he thinks gyms are a better option if you have a hectic schedule: “…you can work out in your own time and are not subject to the class schedule, plus, you can train for as long or as little as you want.”
Another advantage of gyms, says Ben, is that the personal trainers they have can be a major catalyst into helping you achieve your goals: “If you can afford a PT that’s even better as they can work with you to achieve your goals, they can tweak the difficulty of your program as needed and your workout will be entirely tailored to you as an individual.”
However, to this end, Dean says his Lean Performance gym also offers private personal training sessions, which not only curate specific workouts but can aid individuals with rehabilitation exercises for any injuries.
With regards to class-based gyms focusing one area, compared to gyms that have a whole floor of various equipment, Ben says “there are plenty of gyms and studios that have workouts tailored to a particular type of individual and if you want to workout in a class as well, you should be able to find one that suits your needs.”
He gives examples such as “METCON, which is metabolic conditioning, so is both cardio and strength training, there are CrossFit gyms, strength training gyms, and yoga studios. It really depends what you’re after.”
“However if you just want to lift big weights and focus on strength gains, a normal gym or personal trainier may be the easiest way to do that.”
We asked Ben whether he thought gyms were a good place to build social relationships. “It depends what you’re after. There are lots of guys who want to go to the gym to get some peace and quiet as they are at work all day and then go home to their families.”
“There are also guys who want a social outlet, which is something you can get in a gym, from a personal trainer, or a class depending on the environment.”
If you feel like a ‘regular’ gym is the fitness route for you, Ben says there a few things you should look out for before signing up: “For starters, where the gym is based. If it is near work or home and/or the parking is easy, you are more likely to show up.”
“Make sure it is an environment that you want to be in. Are you the guy who wants to be in the raw, steel environment gym, or do you want the nice health club with towels and showers?”
“Check out the community, too. While the gym floor is not always the most social space, if you are spending one hour of your free time a day there, you want to make sure you enjoy the people you are around, even if you’re just saying ‘hi’ to one another.
Finally, “if you decide you want to do classes or get a PT, make sure there are ones available are your desired studio that you actually want to do/train with. There are many ways to work out, many styles of training and many studios/gyms, find one that you like you will stick with it.”