By Sean Barker, CPT (@SeanBarker)
If you are just starting your fitness journey or getting back on track, the choices out there can take you in all directions like a choose-your-own-adventure book. From mesmerizing big-box gyms to small fitness studios, most offer large group training or bootcamps, semi-private training, and even one-on-one personal training, but which option is best for you?
General Gym Membership
Did you know 67 per cent of people with gym memberships never actually use the facilities for which they pay each and every month? This goes to show that you need to be somewhat self-motivated if you want to see results. You will also need some nutritional guidance – which we know is key to changing your body – as well as some knowledge or experience to design your own exercise program if you decide to fly solo.
A lot of gyms have all the bells and whistles to reel you in, from machines to massages, but most memberships only grant you access to the facility, so don’t let the idea of having a steam room sway you into signing up.
Average price: $30 to $60 per month
With the popularity of group training, bootcamps, and CrossFit, fitness classes seem to be offered on every street corner now. But it’s important to know the pros and cons to determine if these are best for you.
Group training can vary between 10 to 30 people who train together in one space and follow a pre-designed workout led by one or two instructors. So, if you have specific fitness needs, mobility issues, or need a lot of instruction, these classes might not be the best fit. However, an educated and experienced group-training instructor should offer progression levels and modifications to accommodate most abilities.
Group workouts are usually designed using a total-body metabolic resistance training approach based on the popular benefits of high-intensity interval training, where you get more work done in less time. It’s a great option for busy parents and professionals who need to get in and out and on with their day.
These classes are also more high-energy than training alone or one-on-one with a trainer and can provide accountability because you’re working out with friends.
Average Price: $20 to $35 per session
The next option offered by many boutique-style fitness studios is semi-private personal training, where you meet with a trainer who designs a customized exercise program and you train in smaller groups of around four to six people. Many sport-specific athletes train this way, as they still get the dynamic energy of training alongside others but with more individualized attention for specific goals. Workouts are usually a little longer and sessions need to be booked ahead of time, so you may not have as many convenient times to choose from for your workouts.
Average Price: $45 per session
The top end option – if you are willing to pay the price – is to hire a personal trainer to lead you every step of the way with one-on-one attention, whether for a short-term goal or to develop long-term healthy habits. A good personal trainer can make you work hard, but the energy may not be the same as if you were training in a group. Most sessions last at least an hour, but there are usually limited times for availability.
It’s best to only commit to a short-term personal training program at first until you see if you and your trainer are on the same page. Also, make sure your trainer is certified in corrective exercise as well as instruction and personal program design. With this option, you can get a customized training and nutrition program, but it comes at the highest price point.
Average Price: $50 per hour/session