It’s a potential minefield out there – Personal Training, Open Gyms & Group Fitness Classes. Where do you begin? Well, before diving in and signing up for the cheapest option, figure out what fitness option is best for you, writes Alan Wilson, Head Coach at Lifestyle Fitness & Personal Training, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford.

Congratulations you have made the first step towards changing the direction of your fitness (or lack thereof). It’s not an easy decision to come to but when you’ve finally made that decision, that leap of faith and recognising that something needs to change it can almost be a relief. BUT YOU HAVE DONE IT, now what next?

As a Coach, I always advocate choosing a fitness journey that can easily integrate into your lifestyle, if you can achieve this, you’re on a path that you can sustain for much longer. This can simply be getting out for a walk at lunchtime, starting a couch to 5k programme, join a Gym, squeeze in that exercise class you’ve been talking about or begin working with a Personal Trainer. Each of these options have varying financial & time implications which should be carefully considered, and in my opinion choosing the right option from the very outset is crucial to you succeeding and achieving your fitness GOALS.

Below are some points to be considered when you begin a new fitness programme,

  • Start small and build your fitness week on week
  • Choosing the right fit for you Gym, Classes or Personal Training
  • Staying hydrated (2-3 Litres of water per day)
  • Quality sleep patterns
  • Get back to 90/10 rule
  • Write down your 2019 Fitness Goals
  • Break these down into short (4 weeks), Medium (3 – 6 month) & Long (6-12 Month) Goals
  • Benchmark fitness levels by testing.

One of these eight steps was to choose the right path for your health and fitness goal. In this blog we are going to discuss the Pros and Cons of a few variations of fitness options.

As a nation we are becoming very aware of the importance of Health & Well Being in our daily lives. Some of this is corporate driven trying to address the work/life balance and reduce stress levels in our work force, some from ex pat’s returning to Ireland with the current economic boom, they bring back to our little country a completely different attitude to working out, and some through Strength & Conditioning which is now becoming prevalent in most club sides. But whatever the reason it can only be a positive influence if it drives us to improve of lifestyle choices.

Ireland now has a vast selection of training facilities; from large commercial gyms, small private gyms, personal training studios and so on. The list is endless, and a lot of people don’t really know what the best option for them is. So, let’s examine the options

Large Open Commercial Gyms

These are becoming more visible in large urban centres across Ireland and it’s quite normal now to be living nearby to a large gym chain. However, if you happen to live in smaller towns there are still very good options to choose from.

Most of these facilities are well fitted out with plenty of top end equipment and offer a vast number of free classes along with plenty of other services. Many will also offer extras like a pool, sauna, jacuzzi, nutritionists and physiotherapy.

Some of these facilities have long opening hours making it easy for you to train at your own convenience and the cost involved generally isn’t that high for the person who ends up using it quite regularly.

They generally have a large team of staff on hand to cater for the large numbers of members coming through their doors.

Peak times can disrupt your planned workout or increase your rest periods because equipment is in high demand due to poor gym etiquette being employed by new members.

As opening times in the gyms increase to cater for different work patterns or schedules it causes issues with availability of gym instructors, this can cause inconsistencies with programming and classes and members can fall through the cracks so to speak.

Certain times of the year cause congestion in the gym and this applies to classes being booked up quickly, so however you book your classes whether it’s a repeat booking, a timesheet or through an app make you’re booking early to avoid disappointment

Not having a fixed time to train leads to accountability issues, we’ve all been there, come home from work after a tough day, sit down on the couch and that’s it, it’s like your super glued and can’t move.

When signing into gyms ask about any other costs like a joining fee and take note of the notice period needed when freezing or cancelling your membership.

Private or Personal Trainer

In recent years the increase in training facilities and trainers have multiplied at a fast rate, we only must look around our immediate locality or the web to see what’s available. Everything is being offered from Personal Training Studios, strength & conditioning and small group training.

All these options are quite different and have their advantages and disadvantages.

Employing a Personal Trainer whether on a 1 to 1 or small group PT enables each client to gain technical ability and the obvious advantages this offers.

For me it’s important to treat you as an adult and make you accountable for your actions which means you will have someone there to show up to, providing you with plenty of expertise, motivation and guidance. Personal Training is like any other service but unique in that you are being assisted along your fitness journey and involved in an information exchange, which can help you down the road when you want to train by yourself.

A good trainer will get to know everything from your lifestyle, your fitness levels and most importantly your goals.

They should know what is best for helping you achieve those goals.

A great trainer will create a good community feel to sessions which makes it that bit more enjoyable for some people as you are encouraged to interact with a friend or gym buddy.

A key factor is having your session planned for you and is time effective usually lasting 45-0 minutes. These time efficient and effective workouts are so important in these ever changing and busy lifestyles

With a solid training plan, prepared by a trainer, it’s about getting it done and getting in and out of the gym.

One-on-one personal training is a premium service and trainers will charge between €50-80 per hour while you can join an open gym for as little as €30 per month.

€30 per month may seem cheap but if you rarely show up and if you do, how effective is your workout really?

Semi-private sessions can cost on average €10-25 per person. It is still expensive, but you get most of the same benefits that you’d get with a personal trainer for a fraction of the price.

Generally, you can’t just show up to these places. Usually appointments need to be made and you need to work with that, which can be good or bad depending on your availability. Good as it may encourage you to lock yourself in and bad meaning you may not be able to train at the time you want to.

A lot of these smaller facilities don’t have all the up to date equipment which obviously means you may be missing out.

If like me, you have been around gym’s you can see those who are motivated but for some it’s almost a social occasion, chatting away with anyone and going to the leisure facilities earlier than they should, not wanting to exert themselves too much.

As a Coach, I really relish in challenging your fitness beliefs, all too often I introduce a chin up or a push up and the immediate reaction is ‘I can’t’ but I really get great satisfaction in watching that turn into ‘I CAN, AND I WILL’.

When training from these facilities a lot of the time you will find yourself being pushed to your limits but not through them.  Depending on your individual outlook on life his can be a disadvantage or an advantage.


Chip through the eight points I mentioned at the beginning of this article which is highlighted above.

Find a journey that keeps you interested and motivated towards your goals in 2019.

Don’t sign up for a gym or Personal Trainer just because they are perceived as the best or have the lowest price, best equipment and a huge presence on social media. Look around, visit and talk to the owners. I often describe this process as an interview or a first date, not all go to the next stage.

If they offer a free trial, avail of it and make sure the atmosphere is to your liking.

Find a gym/trainer who is about technique, has a good pedigree and has a proven track record of getting results and with whom there is a connection.

I hope you’ve found this information useful and if you need any more advice you can pop me a direct message from the links below.