Group vs Individual vs Personal Training


I get asked pretty regularly the differences between what is offered in an individualized program design, personal training, and a group program design. I’d like to dedicate a blog breaking down the differences for everyone.

Group Program Design—just as the name implies, this is what made CrossFit what it is today. There is a group program design that is written for the masses that is typically highly scalable, and all members of the class participate in the workload together under the direct supervision of a coach.

Pros of GPD:

  • Good for people who need accountability and motivation
  • Cost-effective training model (least expensive model at CFD)
  • Most people tend to need the same thing based on lifestyle, so the GPD fits with a vast majority of people’s needs/goals
  • Great way to meet other like-minded people who care about their health and fitness  (Community-builder!)

Cons of GPD:

  • Everyone is different and therefore a GPD is never going to be perfectly catered to anyone’s specific needs
  • Difficult to progress in complexity as the athlete improves over a longer period of time
  • Always constrained to a finite timeframe, and schedule must comply with fixed class times
  • Because this takes place in a group setting, social anxiety issues can inhibit attendance/progress/success

Personal Training—this model is all about 1-on-1 time with a coach who has written a specific program for you and can supervise each and every step of the process. This model has been around for quite some time and will never go away.

Pros of PT:

  • The best model in terms of supervision, quality control, individualization of the program design, and typically allows for a high flexibility of scheduling
  • Sessions can be adjusted on the fly based on progress, energy, etc.

Cons of PT:

  • Most expensive model, as it required the same time commitment of the trainer as it does the client
  • A most isolated model–you won’t have company while you do a PT session (unless you schedule small group PT sessions)

Individual Program Design—This model is the newest contender to the field and has really been made more and more viable because of technology. In this model, a program design is written specifically for an individual and the individual executes it on his/her own time, eliminating the cost of having to pay for a coach to watch you perform every rep. However, and depending on the mode of delivery of the program design, it is expected at CFD to record specific movements via smartphone and annotate data as the individual completes the prescribed work for the day. This data is immediately available to the coach who can use it to dictate how the program design should be adjusted moving forward.

Pros of IPD:

  • Bang-for-your-buck best combo of individualization of program design relative to cost
  • Allows for total flexibility of scheduling
  • Allows for freedom to complete work anywhere, including one’s own home gym
  • Great for self-motivators who can do work they are given without the need for supervision
  • As technology improves, the experience will only become more interactive and immediate, bridging the gap between IPD and PT (especially with coach/client interface programs like

Cons of IPD:

  • Not good for people who need accountability or need to work out in a group setting
  • Typically not good for people with very low training ages–even most basic movements require coaching for most
  • Costs more than a GPD, though not nearly as much as PT
  • Sessions typically can’t be adjusted on the fly due to the fact that coach isn’t present to make the adjustments

So there you have it, this is my breakdown of some of the services offered here at CFD and the main differences between them all. There are pros and cons to each model, and no single model is perfect for everyone. Choosing the model that fits best with you is going to come down to what your goals are, what environment you thrive in, your budget and your schedule. Hopefully this breakdown helps with that!

As always, I appreciate feedback and enjoy intelligent discourse, so please feel free to respond to me with questions/comments/suggestions about this blog topic or anything else you’d like me to cover!

Keep up the hard work!

RLTW <1>

—Coach Phil