There are definitely benefits to both. I wanted to address the differences after yesterday's kickboxing class. The instructor is always challenging us. Yesterday, we ran up five flights of stairs (7 sets) and then jumped hurdles. Big hurdles too. The best part was the encouragement. I couldn't have completed an hour and a half class of TORTURE without it. Once you completed a hurdle, the class would applaud and give you high fives. We also practiced some group strength exercise where we did pushups as a group. We were all as weak as the weakest person on our team.
I always find myself jumping back and forth between extended periods of enjoying group fitness to extended periods of just wanting to get my workout in on my own time in my "home gym." Now that I've discovered running, I've also found the benefits of running solo and running with friends.
It's really all up to you to figure out which setting is better. Here are some of the benefits I've found in each:
- Helps introduce you to fitness. It's a great jump start in helping you kick off a new goal.
- If you find an instructor that challenges you, it will also help you learn NEW exercises that you may have never attempted before.
- Provides a social outlet.
- Allows you to find like-minded people to help you reach your goals. If anything, you have someone to look at with the "is this guy crazy" look.
- Studies say that group exercise releases more endorphins than working out alone.
- You're on your own schedule - sometimes the stress of making it on time to a class can deter you from taking part in an activity.
- If you're serious about exercising, working out alone can provide a sense of clarity.
- Finding your chi. Many times, I feel most "at peace" when I head out for a run alone in the early morning.
- Sometimes the social aspect can get in the way. I found that the gym setting would annoy me many times because someone always wanted to talk. I had 30 minutes and needed to get in, burn calories, and get out.
- Quality alone time.