There are many factors that affect the decision, like time and cost, but today I want to discuss something else.
One of the most important reasons I exercise at home today is that it’s easier to set your own pace and listen to your body, if you’re not in a group class. At home, you can also change your fitness program to your heart’s content.
Although it’s unlikely any class instructor would actually throw you out of the class if you took a rest when you need it, some kind of social comparison process seems to kick in when people are working out in a group setting. How many times have you found out after class that you pushed yourself harder than you should’ve and pay for it later?
Then there is the good pupil phenomenon. When you’re exercising in a group class, you usually do what you expect will please your instructor. I recall that when I was still doing Ashtanga yoga, I often went uncomfortably deep into some asana, if the teacher was walking near me.
The other side of the coin is that if you’re working out at home, you may not be doing your best either. It’s been actually shown that successful spinning instructors were able to motivate their students to exceed their VO2max measure during a spinning class.
If you don’t have a trainer or a gym buddy to inspire you, it may well be that fitness wise, you aren’t getting anywhere.
Of course it’s quite possible you’re not getting anywhere in a gym setting either: lots of folks come to gym and do the same routine every time.
I have a hypothesis that there are two kinds of people when it comes to exercising at home or in a gym/group setting. The first kind is able to exercise on its own, the other kind needs some external pressure – be it class schedule, appointment with a gym buddy or a friend – to exercise regularly.
I believe that the first group of people are introverts and the second extroverts.
I count myself lucky because I’m in the first group. 🙂
My best friend, however, belongs to the second group. She says she has a hard time exercising regularly if she can’t do it with someone else. A few years ago we used to go swimming or Nordic walking with her. (Though I do recall that once or twice we actually skipped the exercise part and went straight to socializing. )
The social part of exercising with your friend or in a group class is something I often miss.
What’s your take on this? Is it better to join a gym vs exercise at home?