Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of workout classes. I’m obsessed with the Lomax Chelsea, Small Group strength training ones that I do four times a week, topped up by a spin session and a Blast Class (strength training with cardio intervals); making that a grand total of six classes per week. But after almost a year of no solo training, I found I’d lost my confidence in a ‘normal’ gym setting.
A last minute change in my schedule or a meeting that runs over can often mean I miss a class I’d already booked in to, or messes up my day so that I simply can’t make any on the timetable. Invariably I find trying to book last minute at some of my other favourite studios in the city is met with, ‘fully booked’ staring back at me from my screen. So, I’d just have to make peace with skipping my workouts on those days, because frankly I would have done anything to avoid exercising without instruction from an ‘expert’. However, on busy weeks this often meant I missed far too many sessions for my liking.
The thing is, for all the pros that a group class offers, there are cons (aside from schedule inconveniences) too. I don’t think I’m the only one who goes to a class, follows the trainer’s instructions and then forgets most of the exercises and combinations that I performed once I’ve showered and changed. And don’t get me started on form! I see so many people who aren’t even executing exercises correctly, in rooms that are sometimes packed full and so dark you can’t blame an instructor for not picking up on someone’s mistakes. That’s why I love the Lomax classes, the Small Group strength training ones have a max of four people, while the Blast has a max of eight. This allows the PT’s to observe your form and correct you when needed. But as we well know, not all classes are created equal.
Going it alone
Recognising that skipping workouts is counterproductive to reaching my fat loss and strength gaining goals I challenged myself to train alone at least once a week. I started by simply replicating the classes I took (which meant paying more attention when I was doing them). I memorised the exercises (how many reps, how many sets and what level of intensity), paid close attention to form correction (in the hopes that eventually it becomes second nature and I can correct myself), and took a mental note of the weights I used (so I’m not umming and ahhing when training alone – was it 10kg or 10lbs? eek).
There’s often at least one exercise in a class setting that I can’t do, either it aggravates my arthritis (thanks hit & run driver), or it focuses a little too much on my calves or traps (that are developed enough for my liking). So, as my confidence grew, and my understanding of what areas the particular exercises were working, I started to tweak routines to suit my body. It’s like being my own personal trainer (with help from the internet, and the Lomax trainers). Best of all I’m no longer beholden to someone else’s timetable. I can confidently workout anytime, anywhere and know that I’ve done an adequate training session. Going it alone has also impacted my performance for the better. I understand my body a lot more now, as I’ve had to ‘tune-in’ to it more than ever before. I can recognise where my imbalances are, what exercises I should perform with free weights rather than with a bar (because my left side is weaker than the right and needs to get stronger), where I can push myself more and try a harder level that I might not be given in a class setting etc. Best of all, this has impacted my performance in class too, because I can motivate myself far better than I could before – irrespective of who is teaching the class, what the exercises are and even if the music is terrible!
Give it a go and let me know how you fare in the comments section below.