Quick Article Rundown
Training in highly cohesive group settings will produce the best fitness results, whether it be general fitness or strength gains - this is the best way to lose weight. Training in a true group is shown to produce the best results, whereas training by yourself is shown to produce the worst results. If you want the best weight loss results, consistently train within a highly cohesive group setting, where you are constantly in contact with the coaches and other members of the group.
Weight loss depends on a two major factors:
- Maintaining a caloric deficit.
- Creating metabolic hormonal balance.
But one thing that people rarely consider is consistency. Studies call this adherence to the specified action, in our case, exercise.
Approximately 20-50% of adults attending an exercise program will withdraw within the first 6 months. This is a scary statistic and shows just how little staying power we have when it comes to our health and well-being. Why do people quit after such a short amount of time? Most likely, because they haven't seen the immediate results they were expecting and gave up. Sound familiar?
Weight-loss should not be a short-term focus, it should be a long-term habitual change to better your health and wellbeing. Slow and steady wins the race.
What does the science say?
Fortunately, there have been a good number of studies on the subject of group vs. individual approaches to training. At first glance, the answer isn't as clear-cut as you might think. There is not clear-cut best way to lose weight.
Three of the larger studies contradict each other. One found that group settings were the best, another found that individual home-based settings were the best and the last found there wasn't any difference at all. When we say best, we're referring mainly to adherence to exercise.
So what's the answer? Which is best?
Looking at a meta-analysis
Lexico defines a meta-analysis as an 'examination of data from a number of independent studies of the same subject, in order to determine overall trends'.
In other words, it's a study that looks at a whole bunch of other studies, taking all of the data from their findings, and putting it all together in one place to see what the numbers tell us.
Group versus Individual Approach? A Meta-Analysis of the Effectiveness of Interventions to promote physical activity.
Within the parameters set by the authors, this study looked at a total of 44 studies, containing 4,578 participants.
The study sorted participants into 4 training contexts: true group, collective, home-based with contact and home based without contact. They then measured the effect on five general categories: adherence, social interaction, quality of life, physiological effectiveness and functional effectiveness.
True group was defined as any experimental group in which team building strategies were used in an attempt to increase the sense of cohesiveness among participants.
Collective was defined as any standard exercise class in which participants engaged in physical activity in the presence of an instructor.
What did the results show?
Adherence - The true group was significantly superior to all other training contexts.
While all other categories (social interaction, quality of life etc.) showed a trend in favour of true group vs. others, the results were not statistically significant.
What Should You Do Now?
Have a look at all of the surrounding fitness classes in your local area. Gyms add classes as an extra way to make money, not as their main feature, so skip these as they won't give you anything like the true group environment you're looking for.
Try and find the smaller independent fitness classes that run consistent challenge-style programs in addition to just their standalone classes. These programs create an environment that provides lots of opportunity for consistent, high-quality interaction with the coaches and other members. This is what creates the true group condition, which is vital for long-term adherence to your fitness plan.
Do You Live Near Surbiton?
If you do, you're in luck! HIT35 Bootcamp (that's us) provide just what you're looking for. Not only do we run our standard, 35-minute workouts but we also run the Body Project, 3 times a year. This is a 12-Week Weight Loss Program, designed not only to help you lose weight, but to teach you how to keep it off for good.
Sound like just what you're looking for? Head here to book a free intro and see a true group in action.
Burke, Shauna & Carron, Albert & Eys, Mark & Ntoumanis, Nikos & Estabrooks, Paul. (2005). Group versus Individual Approach? A Meta-Analysis of the Effectiveness of Interventions to promote physical activity. Sport Exer Psychol Rev. 2.