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He Said, She Said: Group Exercise vs. Personal Training

From the Show: Train Your Body
Summary: Personal trainer or group classes? How do you choose which workout is best for you?
Air Date: 2/9/15
Duration: 10
Host: Melanie Cole, MS
Guest Bio: Neal Pire & Grace DeSimone
Neal Pier better resized-horzNeal Pire is a nationally noted expert on fitness and personal training. He is a Fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine and has served on the Executive Council of ACSM's credentialing arm, the Committee on Certification and Registry Boards. Neal served as vice president of a leading national health management company and now serves as an Exercise Physiologist at HNH Fitness, a medical fitness center in Oradell, NJ. He is widely sought after as a consultant for athlete training programs, performance enhancement centers and fitness industry management. As a 35-year veteran with deep understanding of the subject matter, he is often asked for background, commentary or analysis by media covering wellness, fitness, and personal training.

Grace DeSimone has been in the fitness industry for over 30 years and brings a variety of experiences in commercial, corporate and community settings. She is the editor of ACSMs Resources for Group Exercise Instructors (LWW, 2011) and is an ACSM certified personal trainer and group exercise instructor. Grace is the National Director of Group Fitness for Plus One Health Management, an Optum Company.
He Said, She Said: Group Exercise vs. Personal Training
When exercising, it can be tough deciding whether you want group classes or one-on-one with a personal trainer. Of course, you can certainly have both. But which is your priority?

Both options have benefits and downsides.

A personal trainer is completely focused on you and your needs; but if you don't want all the focus on YOU, being part of a group can be ideal.

Group support has been shown to be an integral part of getting you going and keeping you coming back.

In a different scope, a personal trainer uniquely targets the needs of the individual.

Neal Pire and Grace Desimone are here with a "he said, she said" segment to give you the lowdown on the differences between taking classes and hiring a personal trainer.

RadioMD Presents:Train Your Body | Original Air Date: Monday, February 9, 2015
Host: Melanie Cole, MS
Guest: Neal Pire & Grace DeSimone

Melanie: Today we are starting ‘He said, She said.’ My guests are Neal Pire, Nationally noted fitness expert and personal training expert. He’s an exercise physiologist at HNH fitness, a medical fitness center in Oradell, NJ. And Grace DeSimone. She’s the group fitness director for Plus One Health Management. She’s also the editor for ACSM’s resources for group fitness instructors. She is the expert in class exercise. Classes of all kinds, spinning or aerobics or step or calisthenics, I don’t even know if they do that anymore. Neal is the consummate personal trainer, boot camp, all sorts of things. Do you want to do classes? Do you want to do personal training? Both are good. Grace I’m going to start with you. Tell us about the benefits of classes.

Grace: When you don’t want all of the attention on you, classes are for you. Many of the folks that come to my classes come because they can hide in a crowd. That’s one of the criteria. When you want to exercise, you love the music, you love being around other people, you enjoy sweating with others, then group fitness is a great choice for you.

Melanie: Neal?

Neal: If you can’t hide in a crowd, which you can’t do when you’re working with a trainer, personal training might be perfect for you. In a word, what personal training offers you is customization. If you select the correct trainer, one who is accredited, experienced working with people like you, people that have similar goals and needs, personal training is ideal because it’s completely focused on you. There are no distractions. He is uniquely targeting your needs. The other thing that is unique about personal training versus group exercise, which I’ve heard from many of my clients over the last 35 years, is accountability. There’s an appointment. It’s a one-on-one relationship and you are there to make the appointment. They feel accountable; they have no choice. They have to show up and then they have to do.

Melanie: It is the perfect definition for both of them, from both of you. Now I want to take the case of somebody who is pretty over-weight. A lady who is very over-weight and self conscious about her body, but she like the thought of the music and such but she’s pretty nervous about the other ladies, the stares in class. Where would that woman fit in? Grace, I’m starting with you.

Grace: It really depends on the style of the gym, the classes they have. There is a place for everyone. There is no one size fits all, but for an individual like that I would recommend to find the right gym, the right environment. Maybe it’s not a gym. Maybe it’s just a place that offers classes; where you’re starting out in a smaller environment. You need to find the place where you’re comfortable first and then get in the class room. Let the instructor know that you’re early on and you should feel comfortable. You should feel comfortable. If you are not comfortable then maybe you’d be better starting off by getting some confidence build with somebody on the training side.

Melanie: Grace, what if she came into your club and the clubs that you work in: Loud and big and lights and people in thongs? What would you tell her about the classes that you represent, that you know about?

Grace: People in thongs? There are no people in thongs. Maybe the thongs are underneath the excise attire but those days, I assure you, are long gone.

Melanie: It’s been a while. You know, she looks at the women in the class, even I’m intimidated and I’m a trainer. What would you say to her about classes at your club, for example?

Grace: Let me tell you, I have classes especially for people with orthopedic issues or people who are just starting out. They’re sort of like a dialed-down Zumba where you’re doing cardio, dancing, marching in place. They are specifically designed. I will welcome you with open arms into my classes. I’ve had many over-weight people feel like everyone else. I treat them like everyone and I talk to everyone s a group. That should be criteria for how one feels. You shouldn’t feel like you are the only one doing it. You should see other people like that. Everybody thinks that everybody that goes to a gym is fit. Take a look second look. I look at Zumba classes, look at the instructor, and 50 feet and a couple of drinks later you see the rest of the class. They’re really not doing what the instructor is doing, exactly. They’re moving around, having fun. That would be a great place for someone to start.

Melanie: Okay Neal, what would you do with a woman like that? How would you get her going with personal raining? Especially with some of the trainers out there, that you and I both know, that make you feel intimidated, that are big bulky guys that look you up and down. What would you do with her? You’re a kindly sort.

Neal: First off, if I have a personal training client that want to wear a thong they are required to wear legwarmers and terrycloth headbands as well; if they can find legwarmers, I haven’t seen then in 30 years. Seriously, this is one of those situations where personal training might be the ideal starter to break someone in who is a little intimidated, who doesn’t feel all with it, into the gym environment. Bring them in, give them a little TLC, take them by the hand, and give them a little guidance. Build their confidence. What I typically do is actually recommend that they do the other side of the gym, do the group exercise along with whatever I prescribe on the personal training side. I want them, ultimately, to develop the habit of physical activity, exercise. Feeling like they’re empowered, like they’re able to do what they’re supposed to do. I can build that confidence on a one-on-one level and promote them, endorse, to go over and try some group exercise. I can go a step further and actually select specific classes that are a compliment to what I’m doing on the personal training side.

Melanie: That’s a good point, the trainer can help. We have a minute for each of you. Grace, describe some tips for group exercise buyers. Things you really want them to know if they’re considering group exercise class.

Grace: Try before you buy. Either be a voyeur and stand outside and watch the class, or all gyms, all studios allow you to buy one before you sign your name on the dotted line or you get a free one. Try it before you buy it. I would definitely speak to the instructor beforehand and you need to feel comfortable there. You should have a level of comfort. It’s new, so you might not feel completely comfortable, but there’s a part of you that’s kind of like roller coaster: “I was a little scare, but I had fun too.” That’s the feeling you should have. You’re exhilarated and you enjoyed it. It shouldn’t be all bad.

Melanie: Neal, your turn, one minute. What are the goals for someone with a personal trainer.

Neal: Find a properly credentialed NCSA accredited certified trainer who has experience working with people like you, people that have similar goals, and similar needs. Be honest with that trainer, as far as how you feel during your workouts and about your goals and what it is that going to motivate you to take that next step forward. Understand that it’s a quid pro quo. You’re accountable, you’re responsible, and at the same time you are empowered to say no if you don’t feel like doing a particular exercise. If the cost of raining is something that you’re afraid of, if it’s too expensive, instead of doing 3 training sessions a week, do a session every couple of weeks, do one a month. Do small group training, which lowers that barrier of entry, but at the same time, give you the benefit of working out with a professional trainer. Certainly, without a doubt, cross over to group exercise and try different combinations of activity that will make you feel good, motivate you, and get you to whatever your fitness and health goals are.

Melanie: That’s the word. He said, She said: group exercise classes versus personal training. Goal oriented, where you feel comfortable, try one out before you buy it, and talk to a professional. That’s the word. This is Melanie Cole, right here on RadioMD. Stay well.