Personal Training Vs CrossFit: Which is Best for You?
27th Apr 2023
Chris Nicklin is a certified Personal Trainer with over 7 years' experience, and the owner of Nxtep Personal Training. Chris qualified from Edge Hill University with a Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree in Sports Coaching and Performance Development, and has delivered over ten thousand one-to-one Personal Training sessions.
When it comes to improving fitness and achieving health goals, there are many different exercise programmes and training methods to choose from. Two of the most popular options in 2023 are personal training and CrossFit. While they are not exact opposites, there are a lot of differences between them.
Personal training of course, involves working one-on-one or in a small group with a certified personal trainer, who develops a customised workout plan tailored to the individual’s specific needs and goals.
CrossFit, on the other hand, is a group fitness programme that incorporates a variety of functional movements and high-intensity workouts.
I myself, as a personal trainer, love CrossFit, and we actually incorporate elements of HIIT (on which CrossFit is mostly based on) into our personal training programmes. However, CrossFit is not for everyone, as I will explain below.
So, what are the main differences between personal training and CrossFit? And which option is best for you? Let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of each when compared to each other.
Advantages of Personal Training Vs CrossFit
When it comes to getting into shape, personal training and CrossFit offer two distinct approaches. While CrossFit is a type of high-intensity interval training that typically involves a fairly large group setting, personal training focuses on providing personalised attention and workout plans tailored to individual needs and goals.
Having access to one-on-one supervision and guidance throughout your workout means the trainer can ensure that you are using proper form and technique during exercises, and can also help push you to your limits and achieve your fitness goals faster.
Workout plans tailored to individual needs and goals
Personal trainers assess each individual’s current fitness level and develop specific workouts that will work best for them in order to help them reach their desired results.
Your personal trainer will assess your fitness level and create a plan that targets specific areas of the body or fitness goals. This can be especially beneficial for individuals with injuries or other limitations.
The tailored workout plans created by personal trainers may include any combination of aerobic and anaerobic exercises, strength training, flexibility, balance and agility activities, depending on the individual’s needs and goals.
Nutrition & meal plans
Personal trainers can also provide tips and advice on nutrition, lifestyle habits, and more that can further aid in achieving health goals. A nutrition plan is an important part of a successful fitness programme as it provides the fuel for activity and maximises results.
Because of this, we provide our clients with meal plans that are tailored to their individual goals and dietary preferences. Depending on the client’s goal, whether it’s weight loss, muscle gain or improved performance, the meal plan can be tailored accordingly.
Reduced risk of injury
One of the main advantages of personal training over CrossFit is the reduced risk of injury due to one-on-one supervision and guidance from a certified fitness professional. A personal trainer will assess your current fitness level, assess any existing injuries or limitations, keep a close eye on your form and tailor a specialised workout programme that meets your individual needs. This helps to ensure that you are not pushing yourself too hard, or attempting exercises that are beyond your current capabilities.
For those who are looking for a social atmosphere with their workouts, small group personal training provides the perfect solution. Unlike CrossFit, which is typically done in a larger group setting with people of varying levels of fitness and experience, small group personal training can include up to 6 participants. This allows for more personalised instruction and feedback from the trainer, as well as the potential for increased motivation from the presence of other participants.
Disadvantages of Personal Training Vs CrossFit
One to One PT is more costly
The main disadvantage of all the above benefits that come with one-to-one personal training is the cost when compared to CrossFit. If you are choosing one-to-one personal training, the drawback for all that personal attention and bespoke planning is the higher cost to an individual.
Small Group personal training however, greatly reduces this as you are splitting the cost between a small group of people.
Personal training is a great way to focus on customised fitness goals and get one-on-one guidance from an experienced professional. However, it also tends to lack social interaction compared to CrossFit classes, where you have the camaraderie of others, which some people find motivating.
However, CrossFit classes can often be large (15 – 30 people is common), so if you like social exercise but would prefer fewer people, you might prefer small group personal training, in which you exercise with a small group of around 5 other people.
CrossFit is a group fitness programme that incorporates a variety of functional movements and high-intensity workouts. Here are some of the main advantages and disadvantages of CrossFit:
Advantages of CrossFit Vs Personal Training
The high-intensity workouts that are part of the CrossFit programme are one of the most beneficial aspects of the programme. Workouts in the CrossFit programme are intended to be difficult and should be performed to the point of exhaustion. As a result, participants may expect to burn a significant number of calories and increase their level of endurance. The high-intensity nature of the workouts allows folks to notice improvements more rapidly, which is another benefit of the routines.
While Personal Training can be very high intensity at times, it is usually a more balanced approach, featuring HIIT elements but also a lot of strength training to go with the cardio.
Social Interaction and Motivation
One of the biggest advantages of CrossFit is the social interaction and motivation that comes with working out in a group setting. Individuals can receive support and encouragement from fellow participants, which can help them stay motivated and committed to their fitness goals.
In contrast, traditional personal training typically takes place in a one-on-one setting. While this can allow for more individualised instruction and feedback, it lacks the social interaction and motivation that comes with working out in a group. Without the encouragement of others, people may find it difficult to stay motivated and stick to their fitness goals.
At Nxtep however, we actually offer small group personal training, in which you will train in a group of 6 like-minded people. We think this is a fantastic compromise between one-to-one personal training and CrossFit, and perfect for those who prefer to workout in a more social setting.
A Good Budget Option
Crossfit classes are an excellent option for those looking to get in shape without breaking the bank. Due to the compromises in terms of class numbers and personal attention, Crossfit classes are typically cheaper than one-on-one personal training sessions, making them a great choice for those on a tight budget.
As mentioned above however, small group personal training means much lower costs for the individual, making it an ideal midpoint between one-to-one PT and CrossFit.
Disadvantages of CrossFit Vs Personal Training
Higher Risk of Injury
The fast-paced, high-intensity nature of CrossFit workouts can increase the risk of injury, especially if proper form and technique are not used. This is unfortunately more likely to happen, as with large classes it’s almost impossible for a CrossFit instructor to be aware of every single person’s form or whether they are pushing themselves too far and risking injury.
In contrast, personal training can provide a more tailored approach to exercise. A certified trainer can focus on proper form and technique for any exercise, reducing the risk of injury by gradually increasing weights and intensity. Additionally, the personalised guidance from a personal trainer allows for modifications in exercises to accommodate any potential injury or health concerns.
Overall, when it comes to reducing the risk of injury, personal training is generally the safer option.
Less Individual Attention
In a group setting like CrossFit, individuals receive less individual attention from trainers than in a one-on-one personal training session or even in a small group PT session. This can make it difficult for trainers to correct form and technique, which as mentioned, can increase the risk of injury, but it also means that you rarely get your form adjusted so you may not be getting the maximum benefit out of each rep or pattern.
Not as Comprehensive
CrossFit includes both high intensity interval training (HIIT) and Olympic-style weightlifting. While these two elements are important aspects of any fitness routine, they do not make up a complete training style in comparison to personalised personal training.
Personal training however, incorporates multiple types of exercises to form a bespoke, individualised program that meets the goals of each client. Personal trainers may incorporate weight training, callisthenics, yoga and Pilates, weightlisting, cardio, HIIT and more into a single workout to provide the most comprehensive approach to fitness. This allows for a well-rounded routine that targets all areas of the body and challenges clients in different ways.
In conclusion, while CrossFit is an excellent option for those looking for fast-paced workouts, traditional personal training offers more individualised attention and a much more comprehensive approach to fitness. Whether it’s one-on-one personal training or small group, both are safe options that can help you reach your goals.
Limited Flexibility in Scheduling
CrossFit workouts are typically offered at specific times, which may not be convenient for individuals with busy schedules. This lack of flexibility in scheduling workouts can be a drawback for some individuals.
In contrast, personal training offers much more flexibility in scheduling. With personal training, you can arrange a session with your trainer at a time that works for both of you. This is especially useful if your work or family commitments mean that you can make it to the gym only at specific times. It also allows you to fit a workout into a tight schedule if needed.
CrossFit is a great choice for those looking for an affordable, high-intensity workout in a group setting. Personal training on the other hand provides more individualised instruction and a much more comprehensive approach to exercise, but can lack the social benefits.
Both personal training and CrossFit have their own advantages and disadvantages, so it ultimately comes down to personal preference, fitness goals, and budget. Just carefully consider these factors before deciding which option is best for you.
If you’re interested in trying out personal training, please drop in to the studio in Knutsford or call us to book in for a free taster session and a personal assessment.