Group exercise has its place and it does benefit some people some of the time however, I believe what happens at the larger group classes can sometimes be ineffective, counter productive and often more designed to give people a good time rather than good results.
I have been taught and strongly believe that there is no such thing as bad exercise, only poorly prescribed exercise.
Bare with me, I’m not pretending a trainer is the same as a doctor by any stretch of the imagination but to make my point imagine a doctor having to prescribe the one correct pill (exercise class) to treat 30 or more people with no information about the patient what so ever! No medical history, no knowledge of lifestyle, no history of injury, no knowledge of ability, nothing! The pill ‘could’ work for a couple of people if lucky however, the rest will be prescribed the wrong pill or the wrong dose!! There’s just too many variables.
NOT all group exercise is created equal. Not all trainers are equal in skill. There ARE some great group workout products out there that do help people to get in shape. I’ve delivered group exercise myself and many of my friends still do however, often group ex’ can be delivered by poorly qualified / poorly committed trainers who have little respect or knowledge for the complexity of their task.
Here are a few reasons I believe group workouts can occasionally fall short of being worthwhile forms of training.
1. They are not Progressive
The whole point of training is to gradually get better, fitter, faster, stronger or leaner over time. Any trainer should be able to tell you that In order to achieve any progress, your training has to be progressive (they will / should know this as progressive overload). You must raise the level at which you are challenging the systems over time. Group exercise is generally designed as a drop-in experience and thus will quickly reach a plateau in the improvements it is capable of producing.
2. There is no specificity.
Group training, by it’s very nature, can never be targeted to work on each person’s individual weaknesses etc
To summarize I am absolutely NOT saying that all group exercise is terrible and everyone should stop right now. In fact, there are some pros to group exercise. It can be fun, the environment can make training social and engaging. If you are a complete beginner and it gets you into training then great! If you enjoy it, fantastic. But at some point you need to start training smarter if you want to continue to make progress.