Folks, I must admit that working out is typically a personal task. Yes, I say it is personal because each of us has their own approach to exercising. While some of us view exercise as an opportunity to be alone (think yoga), other people exercise to socialize. Whether we choose to exercise as individuals or in a group, each of these approaches comes with its own perks. Thus, we cannot say that individual exercise is better than group exercise or vice versa. To help you better appreciate the unresolved debate of individual vs. group exercise, let us look at each’s advantages. Due to limited space, I will restrict myself to just two benefits for each, which I think are the most important.
Freedom: By our very nature, most of us don’t like being controlled by others. We want to swim in freedom all the time, and that is why phrases such as “I need my space” have found their way into our vocabulary and rooted themselves therein. When working out as individuals, we have the freedom to do the type of exercise we want, and at the time we like. No one will demand to know why we did not show up for the session yesterday. Thus, if you really value your freedom and autonomy, I suggest you give the individual workout a go.
Time to be alone: We are continually interacting with people around us, whether at home, at work, in church, or any other place. That means we hardly get time to be alone. And for those of us who have families, it is even more difficult to get alone time. And, we cannot underestimate the value of being alone. That is when we can meditate, think about our plans for a better future, etc. I mean, there is a lot we can do when we’re alone. Now, one of the best times to do these things is when we are exercising alone. For instance, it is difficult to meditate when we’re in some social place, as there is a lot of distraction.
Socialization: This is a very obvious and one of the most important reasons we go for group workouts. Most of us like making friends, and group exercise gives us an excellent opportunity to meet new people and establish friendships. I know of a couple who met for the first time in a gym. Besides the possibility of finding our Mr. or Mrs. Right in the gym, we could meet lots of other people from all walks of life. Some of them may become our business partners or potential customers to our businesses (that is, if you run a business like me). For those of us who are religious, we could even find prayer partners here. I remember my cousin telling me that he met a therapist who helped him overcome drug addiction during a group exercise. It is a wonderful thing.
Motivation: In my case, this is what prompted me to join group training. When I was 27 (that was 10 years ago), I made my maiden workout plan. My goal was to reach a two-hour mark of medium-intense exercise in one year. I started with 30 minutes, and after three months, I was already at a one-hour milestone a session. After that, things started going south when I realized that my fitness level was almost stagnant. The harder I pressed on, the more I became disappointed; I expected significant changes within a short period. I shared this with a fitness expert and realized that I needed motivation, which was to be found in group exercise. Here, we could encourage one another to keep going. Today, I can spend three hours in the gym without even knowing.
As we have seen, both individual and group exercise have their own advantages. So, which is better? That is food for thought.