Group Training Won’t Work: Here’s Why

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Group fitness training; another relatively new fitness industry craze. There are dozens of types of group training courses from Crossfit, to Orange Theory Fitness, water “aerobics” and shoot, even a class where people swing Samurai Swords to get in shape. Has anyone ever stopped to ask WHY there are so many?

Well, let’s take a closer look at why group training won’t work.

People LOVE anything new and interesting; we know that. People are also quite ignorant of what makes an effective fitness protocol. Witty entrepreneurs would see huge opportunities with this… and they do.

Unfortunately, effective exercise cannot be fun; unless, for some reason, you enjoy huge amounts of discomfort and intentionally pushing your body’s energy systems past what the conscious mind will allow. If your exercise is fun, it is not effective in terms of stimulating physical improvements such as building new muscle or losing body fat. These are physical changes your body does NOT want to make. Therefore, only under severe circumstances will your body make them. Very uncomfortable and physically demanding metabolic and mechanical work with muscle is interpreted by the body as a severe circumstance; from which it will adapt and improve.

There is a difference between effective exercise (physical stress induced to simulate a positive physical adaptation) and recreation (physical activity or sport which people participate in for fun or leisure). True, exercise does require movement and physical activity, but, not all movement and physical activity is exercise.

Many fitness classes and group training are just that; movement. The classes are structured under the erroneous and scientifically disproven assumption that long durations of physically movement “burns” a significant amount of body fat. It does not. Group training is a great way to socialize and have fun, but if building muscle and losing weight is your goal, forget about it.

Exercise must be individualized and customized.

Tolerance, recovery ability, time, injuries, age, genetics etc are all factors which must be considered and changed based on the individual. Personal training needs to be personal. One on one with completely undivided attention to the individual to prevent injury and give them what they require to reach his or her goals.

You may see people in good shape in the exercise classes. This again is a form of selection bias. Those individuals who were already in good shape chose the exercise class which was easiest for them; because being good at something is fun! We fail to see the hundreds of people who tried 1-2 classes and dropped out because it was dangerous or too difficult. Selection bias is a huge problem in the fitness industry and is why many people are misguided.

The best form of training is one which is safe, significantly challenges your body, allows you to record progress and one you will stick with. Intensity is the key. If weight loss is your goal, group training may be a good idea for the first couple weeks to get into the swing of things, but if you’ve struggled losing weight in the past, seek professional help and work one-on-one with a good trainer to reach your goals.

Jay Vincent