Group Fitness vs Personal Training: The Ultimate Guide

You’re finally certified to help people become the best versions of themselves possible. You’ve made the effort, you’ve studied, you’ve taken the tests, and you’ve aced the requirements – you’re a licensed personal trainer now, and you’re more excited than you’ve ever been.
But now that you’ve become a personal trainer, it’s time to establish just what type of trainer you want to be. Are you interested in working with people one-on-one? Do you want to help the most amount of people possible? Do you have a passion for a certain kind of fitness that you just can’t shake?

There are millions of questions you should ask yourself when you come to this crossroads, but perhaps the biggest is, “do I want to specialize in group fitness, or do I want to focus on personal fitness?”

Maybe you’re into the hot yoga group classes, or maybe you’d rather have face-to-face time with your clients one at a time. Each of these classifications have tons of pros and cons depending on your personality, style, and ideal fitness regimen, so deciding between the two might take some heartfelt reflection. For now, though, let’s dive into each type of fitness to get a better idea of what each of them mean, how they make you feel, and how they could potentially affect your career.

Let’s Talk Personal Training

Odds are, you’re pretty aware of what a personal trainer is (since you’ve been training to become one), but let’s dive into the parts of personal training that should be up for consideration with your personality traits.

Personal training is largely a one-on-one setting where it’s just you and one client at a time. With this, you’re more than just a fitness instructor teaching someone how to use the cable machine or perfecting your client’s bench press technique. Instead, you’re part mentor, part coach, part drill instructor, part nutritionist, part therapist, and of course, part friend. You form a bond with your client because you’re spending so much face time with them. It’s a commitment to a single person for the length of time that they want to work with you, and even more important, it’s a commitment to being a full-time role model for each of your clients.

Taking on a list of clients that you’ll meet with one-by-one will require a commitment to them. You’ll need to be available to answer their questions, help guide them on their fitness journey, and hear them out when they’re struggling. You’ll also need to have direct contact with them to help set and establish goals, evaluate progress, and consistently adjust their individual program to get them where they want and need to be.

But What About Group Fitness?

Group fitness is pretty much what it sounds like. Group fitness still requires your undivided attention and dedication, but it’s split up amongst an entire group of people. Meaning, it’s not always as personal and as closely knit as your relationship with one-on-one clients. When you think group fitness, think Zumba classes, HIIT classes, spin classes, hot yoga classes, Pilates, barre, and hundreds of other combinations and possibilities. There’s no limit when it comes to group fitness classes, it just takes an established location, certification, and the dedication necessary to make a group fitness class successful.

The main difference with your group fitness class is the dedication to your clients must be split up and refocused all at the same time. You’ll need to help ensure you’re meeting each client’s needs, but you’ll also need to keep the group as a whole in your main frame of mind. It’s likely you’ll need to think on your feet to create programs that work best for many, instead of establishing individual programs for each specific client. This will include creativity and spontaneous thinking if you need to establish modifications for people on the spot, so a creative brain is likely a good fit for this type of program.

How Can You Choose?

Now that we’ve established each of these types of fitness options you can teach, it’s important to start dividing up the differences and similarities right next to each other to get a better grasp on which type of fitness instruction is the best for you!


First, let’s compare safety and supervision. With a one-on-one personal training setup, you’ll be better able to focus on delivering fun effective workouts that can be a little different and risky without sacrificing attention toward keeping your client safe. You’re also much better able to supervise one client than you are an entire group of clients. That said, personal training insurance is always a smart option for protecting your fitness career.


With a group of clients, you’re going to have to learn how to deal with dividing your attention up. You’ll have to learn how to ensure that each client is getting your attention and time, without dedicating more time to one client than the other. In other words, you’ll have to learn fairness and multitasking. With personal training, you’ll have to learn how to dedicate all of your focus and attention on a single client at a time, which, admittedly, can be difficult if you don’t work well with people one-on-one. It’s likely that with this type of fitness training, you’ll be granted the time and attention to detail it takes to help each client get the results they want.


As a group fitness instructor, your motivating juices will have to be flowing. Have you ever tried to amp up an entire room without any energy yourself? If not, take it from us, it’s exhausting. Your motivating energy will have to be pumping non-stop, without question if you’re planning on taking on a group class because they’re going to feed energy off of you, and of course, off of each other. It’s likely you’ll have to be loud, peppy, and in control all the time. With personal training, you’re able to quietly, and confidently motivate your client directly, giving them full attention, encouraging them on the spot, and helping them push through a tough set.

Our Final Thoughts

Both of these types of fitness have strong positives and tangible negatives, so it’s important to understand each type of fitness and training before you dive into one or the other. Take a good hard look at your personality, your career goals, and what you picture when you imagine a successful business for yourself. Do you see one type or the other? We suggest lots of soul searching, research, and self-reflection before going one route or the other!

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