The Great Debate: PT or Gym Classes?

Should you be doing sessions with a personal trainer or attend fitness classes? I get asked this question a lot so I went straight to research mode to bring you guys this comprehensive guide that answers the age-old question: WHAT’S RIGHT FOR MY BODY, PT OR GYM CLASSES? If you prefer to hear this on a drive home or a nice walk, you can find the podcast episode here. 


Find out the benefits to both personal training and fitness classes, which one targets weight loss, and the budget you’ll need for each one. 

Also, keep reading to find out the answer to a bonus question: Should I be doing cardio before or after my training?


(This means having someone coach you 1 on 1, and the attention is all on you and for you.)

  • The top pro on this list will be the attention you get from a trainer. No class or online video will be as attentive as a PT. If you’re new to the gym, PT’s can show you the right form for each move so there are no injuries. If you hurt yourself or pull a muscle, it’s hard to get back on that horse (meaning the gym.) Avoid that delay by starting with a professional from the get go. Their constant positive reinforcement doesn’t hurt either!

  • Good personal trainers CARE. That’s right! They care whether you show up to a session, they care if you’re injured, and they care that you’re hitting your goals. They’ll become super familiar with you and your lifestyle, so don’t be surprised if you end up more friends than casual acquaintances.

  • You don't have to worry about planning your workout, pushing yourself enough, and figuring out what progress level you need to be achieving. That’s why you have a trainer! 

  • If you’re completely new to working out, a class might cause a bit of  pressure on you, since you could feel unsure about the moves you’re doing. Is it bad for your knees? Are you going low enough? Should you be lifting heavier weights? Take things one step at a time, it might be overwhelming attending an advanced HIIT class the day you sign up at the gym. 

  • Tailored sessions for you. Trainers know your weaknesses and strengths, they can alter and design moves specifically for you, and they’ll be cheering you on from beginning to end. Because a PT is tracking your goals (big and small) you can expect new sets and exercises every couple of weeks since they want to see you progress. The problem with classes is they’re more of a one-size-fits-all workout.

  • It’s a more focused environment compared to the bright lights and loud music a class would have. The entertainment factor of a class is cool, but you’re in the spotlight for a whole hour with a PT.


    Personal training is pretty awesome! A study found that “There is no replacement for the value attached to the trusted rapport, helpful accountability, social support, and individually tailored programs personal trainers provide clients.” (ISSA, 2019)


    • First and foremost: they’re fun! Being among a group of people all going through the same torture (I mean workout) can be really enjoyable. So if you came in after a long and tiring day at work, a class can really lift your spirits.

    • A little competition never hurt anybody! I found a study that said if you stopped during a class but you saw the person next to you soldiering on, you’ll get back to it ASAP! It’s human nature to want to push harder when you see others going for it.

    • It’s not just about competition, group classes can also inspire motivation. Countless studies have shown that a positive vibe in a class is contagious. So you might not be in the mood for a workout at the beginning, but once you see others getting high on endorphins, you’ll feel better by the end of a class for sure.

    • You can go through them with a friend! The cool thing about working out with your friend is that you’ll have a 95% chance of maintaining a fit lifestyle than if you started it alone. 

    • Group classes are about a fraction of the cost of personal training. At least you’ll be getting fitness and movement in your life for a lot less than what you’d be paying for a PT. 
    • There are literally hundreds of classes to choose from! You’ve got spinning, HIIT, yoga, barre classes, pilates, stretching, and so much more. Whatever activity you’re interested in, it’s likely you’ll find a class dedicated to it. 


    via GIPHY


    Group classes are a great way to stay moving. They’re fun and fresh, and you can embark on this journey with a friend so you can turn “getting fit” into a sociable activity. 


    The type of workout to expect from a PT is more muscle training and strengthening. Because you’re lifting weights, you’re burning calories even after your session is over. How does that work? Muscles use up oxygen during the workout and afterwards. If one pound of muscle can burn 5 calories, that means more muscle = more burning!


    I mentioned that group classes will cost less than PT, but I’d like to shed some more light on this. Yes, it costs more but the investment in personal training will benefit you for life. You won’t need to do it forever, just start off with a professional so you can learn the proper moves and alignments. Then when you feel more confident, you can attend classes 2 - 3 times a week and do strength training on your own.


    It can be really hard to organise your time, especially if you’re a parent and/or have a full time job. In those cases, it’s easier to just sign up for a class when have some time instead of coordinating with a personal trainer. HOWEVER, there are other options! Like my workout app. “Shameless plug,” huh? But I promise it’ll be just like a private session between you and me, at YOUR convenience and lower cost. Learn the basic moves through my videos and if you have any questions, I’m literally just a phone call away!


    I have a client, Alia, who basically did everything I mentioned above. She started her fitness journey by going to gym classes like Body Pump and Body Attack, only to find she wasn’t keeping up. She went to the gym, looked around at the machines (which are super intimidating to a beginner,) and didn’t know what to do there, either.

    She started personal training with me and 6 months later, she was off! Alia created a nice balance of using the workout app at the gym (3 times a week) and attending classes (2 times a week.) She was getting proper form and exercises for her muscles from the app, and a much needed fun cardio session at the classes.


    Now that you got all this info, think it over, and make a decision. Let me know what you choose and remember: there’s no wrong answer! All you gotta do is move and enjoy whatever it is you’re doing. 


    Alright, it’s time for the bonus question: 

    Should you be doing cardio before or after training?

    • You should always start working out with 5-10 minutes of cardio. 
    • Try to do cardio after training to really exhaust whatever energy you still have in your body. Listen to some music or a podcast, maybe B for Better Health
    • Some cardio is better than no cardio at all. But, this doesn't mean that you finish a Zumba class and follow it up with some more cardio.


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