Are Group Fitness Classes Enough?
If you’ve been following Protest Fitness then you know that we are huge proponents of Group Fitness Classes! Being in a group is motivating, having a coach write workouts for you makes you stop cherry-picking your favorite movements, and you might even make some lifelong friends. For the vast majority of the population, we will always say that a well-programmed and well-coached group fitness class is absolutely enough to get you in the best shape of your life, and then some.
In fact, we’d argue that jumping from program to program on your own, whether it’s some “elite” programming or new popular fad is going to yield way worse results than just sticking with the program your coaches provide for the class.
Ask Yourself the Tough Questions
There may come a time years down the road, however, where you start to feel like the classes might not be serving your needs anymore and you feel like you might benefit from some additional work. You may feel like the class is too “one size fits all” and you have specific things you need to work on. Before jumping ship, ask yourself a few things:
Has your progress stopped? Is it because of the class programming or is it because of external factors?
Is your nutrition on point? (This is huge.)
Are you sleeping/resting/recovering enough?
Are you actually FOLLOWING the class programming and scaling things appropriately?
Are you putting time into the class skill work or brushing it off?
Are you following the laid out progressions?
Do you take feedback from the coaches?
Are you cherry picking workouts?
Are you doing the stretches the coach demonstrates after the workout?
These things all add up and can halt progress once you pass the “beginner gains” stage.
Classes + Supplemental Work
If there are certain movements that are sticking points for you (double unders, handstands, etc.), start by taking 5 minutes before or after class and working on them. Coaches love seeing people work on their weaknesses and no coach should be angry if you ask for some quick pointers (I’ll touch on this later). Dedicating a few minutes before or after class for a few weeks adds up to hours of work total, and you should see some nice progression.
Now, there are certain skills or goals you may have that you need real help with. It’s easy to spend 5 minutes a day practicing double unders, but something like snatching or building an elite engine takes a lot more time and the watchful eye of an experienced and knowledgable coach. That’s when you need to seek some real help.
In general, classes should be enough for you to become and then STAY very fit. If you truly feel like you’re giving your all in classes and still feel like you aren’t progressing, then you should evaluate your goals and set a game plan. It might be time to stick with classes but add some sort of supplemental work on the side.
The best way to do this, without a doubt, is to purchase personal training hours with a knowledgable coach. Purchasing PT is the fastest track to success. The coach will have a full plan laid out for you, you will feel more motivated to succeed because you have “skin in the game”, and you can receive the exact individualized attention you require. You’re paying the coach for their expertise, which they deserve to be paid for, and they will value your success in return.
If your goal is just to be generally fit or lose weight, HIIT workout classes are absolutely enough exercise – you may need to work on your nutrition! Hire a nutrition coach to hold you accountable and work with your lifestyle.
Maybe you feel like the classes don’t offer enough heavy lifting. That’s valid! If your goal is to become extremely strong and build mass, add in extra squats, deadlifts, and presses once a week each. Purchase a program from a coach that can work around the class programming.
If your goal is to become a great weightlifter and you feel like the classes don’t offer enough time to practice these complex lifts, join your gym’s Barbell Club or purchase a barbell program from a coach that knows your tendencies! Coming from a gym owner, we don’t spend a TON of time on snatches/cleans/jerks because a majority of our clientele doesn’t care about them and just wants a good workout. In fact, we often get complaints when we spend too much time on them. That’s why we have Barbell Clubs, etc! These are very complex lifts that require years of dedicated practice.
If your goal is to become a high-level CrossFit competitor (which may include all of the above goals), book a session with your coach. You will refine your gymnastics, evaluate your weaknesses, and set up a plan moving forward. Just get ready for a lot of skill sessions and Assault Bike intervals 🙂
You’re far better off working with a coach who sees you move every day and PAYING for their time and individualized attention than you are trying to follow random “elite” programs you see on the internet. Those programs don’t give you feedback. And surprise: those programs are also “one size fits all” (even more-so than your classes, because they don’t modify things for you specifically).
For what it’s worth, at our gym GuitarTown Athletics we have seen that the people with the most success are those who are coming into classes consistently, and then supplementing work on their weaknesses or specific goals with a coach on the side.
Whether you’re a beginner or you’ve been working hard for years – first make sure you are putting your full effort into the class, scaling appropriately, and listening to your coaches. THEN, add some additional skill work before or after class, and purchase training time or programs from the coaches who know you best.