Throughout this short blog. I am going to give a brief and mainly personal opinion from the eyes of a personal trainer, focusing on well exercise in general. Firstly let me start by saying ANY and ALL exercise is absolutely fantastic, nothing should be off the cards. Anything that involves getting up and moving, is, in my book an absolute win whether it’s taking the dog for a walk or attending an intensive gym class.

In recent years it seems there is a lot of sh*t talk amongst trainers and gym enthusiasts alike as to what bests suits people…. Let me start by stating in exercises terms, One shoe size DOES NOT fit all.

Pier walking Pete may enjoy just that, a walk down the pier. Whereas G.I Jane wants an intensive style bootcamp class with a drill sergeant instructor. Guess what they are both perfectly fine.

However what I will try to explain over the next while is the difference between types, styles and variations within exercise. Breaking down some pros and cons. Helping you maybe decide what might work for you.


This statement will lead us quite nicely into the breakdown of various groups of exercise, let me explain what I mean. If you decide on 1 January 2019 that it’s time for you to kick some ass in the gym. Great stuff, however you arrive to the gym and you have all the flooding memories coming back from last January’s stint in the gym and you realise. “God I remember why I hate this”. Pretty quickly you are going to begin to make excuses to avoid the gym, then March rolls around, and you are no better off than you were sitting at Christmas dinner! Guess what? The gym may not be the one for you….

If you don’t enjoy a certain type of style of exercise. don’t do it!! Simple right? Don’t kid yourself, and don’t waste your own precious time. There is something out there for you to do. Just find it.

Here are some common style exercise and or training that you are likely to come across in January!

Disclaimer – You will be offered quick January fixes. I can guarantee next December that fix is long gone.

The Gym:

When thinking of exercise this probably is one of the first things that springs to mind for most people. Whether you love it or hate it, the chances are you have been inside a gym before. Personally this have been my exercise outlet for years. I train alone and that’s just how I enjoy it. My love for training has not wavered much at all over the years. But that is just me. I most certainly don’t expect many else to feel the same. Here for me are some of the pros and cons when training in the gym.


  • Access to a huge variety of exercise programmes and classes.. Both Cardiovascular and weight bearing. Now this isn’t an in depth blog on either of those, but if you want to refer back to a previous blog I have written called ‘women VS weights’ You can read more into the benefits from both.
  • Support network. Although I train alone, the gym can be a really great place to meet like-minded individuals with similar goals and wants from everyday life and to meet people to exercise with.
  • Expert knowledge. Yes some trainers are a lot better than others. But what almost every single gym will offer you, is a basic introduction to basic exercises like weight training and cardio. Will you become an expert from these intro sessions – No, BUT they are extremely beneficial and a great way to learn.
  • Depending on the gym you join, there will be different amenities included, from sauna/steam room to a pool and jacuzzi. Some also offer a childminding service whilst your work out – WIN.


  • The gym can be an intimidating place, especially for beginners or anxious / nervous individuals, Commercial gyms tend to be worse here. Some can have over 30 people on the gym floor at any one time. And people look and stare at you as you exercise. That is just natural unfortunately. Thus making it tough to concentrate and remember why you are there.
  • Getting lost in the vastness. Once you have had your introduction session. The chances are unless you pay more you will be left to your own devices. Making it easy to forget what you were shown or what you should be doing. It’s easy to get lost amongst the different equipment and be in the gym for 50 minutes and really not do much!

Boot camp style classes:

This probably comes in a close second for people when thinking of exercising, Boot-camp classes are everywhere now. They usually combine equipment, bodyweight and cardiovascular sections within the workout. Thus giving the feeling of a complete workout in a short amount of time. Usually outdoor, but also indoor (Irish weather and all that!!)


  • Community atmosphere. Straight off the bat you get a community atmosphere from a boot camp. It can start off as a group of strangers exercising together, but you (provided the instructor gets involved) should very quickly form a bond with others over your communal suffering! For the most part everyone will do the same if not slight variations of the same exercises throughout the class. Giving easy social talking points at the very least!
  • Instructor on hand. Along with motivating you throughout the class. The trainer is also there to help you technically, If you are not sure on something in a boot camp do not hesitate to ask. If the instructor is worth his salt, he will take the needed time to talk you through any of the movements you aren’t sure about. This may not be the case in some gym classes.
  • When I teach a boot camp class the one thing I always try and incorporate is variation of exercises between previous classes and even in the one class. Nobody is there to be bored. For the most part boot camps in general have a huge variation in exercises and style of classes from one day to the next.
  • Calories burnt. Boot camp classes are a fantastic way to ramp up the daily calories burnt. Thus leading to potential weight loss.


  • Intimidation factor. Initially with a bootcamp class there can be again that intimidation factor. Especially showing up alone for the first time. Some classes can have as much as 20 people! The trainer here should be integrating you into the exercises and the class right from the get go. Making you apart of the team.
  • Large numbers. Again the class can hold up to 20 people, this means the trainer cant specifically watch out for technique and bad form from individuals – if in doubt ask a question.
  • Generalised classes. A bootcamp isn’t tailored for you. So if you are coming back from injury or struggling with physical issues, try and appreciate the class wasn’t designed for that. Although trainers will always have a backup plan for an exercise, it still may not suit.


Yoga/ Pilates:

Another huge area these days when thinking about exercise. Although unlike the above two it can be considered a holistic approach to exercise, I can assure you it doesn’t make either class style less hard. But just like the above there are pros and cons with all. There are lots of different types of yoga and pilates styles, but for the most part Pilates tends to be slightly more physical, with yoga tending to focus slightly more on a meditative slower style.


  • One size does fit all. Both yoga and pilates are excellent forms of exercises for bigger people, smaller people, injured people and sick people. The classes can be as relaxed or as hard as you wish to make them. They are both extremely accessible and doable classes for the general public to enjoy.
  • Mind and body connection., Constantly with clients I am stressing the mind body connection, the connection between the brain and the muscles during workouts. I can almost always pick out when someone does a yoga or pilates class as they will have a great connection between the two. Which in turn is fantastic in and out of the gym.
  • Mental clarity. There is a certain level of mental clarity that comes from the meditative side of these two classes. Unlike in the gym where you may spend time on your phone. Here it can be just you, the music, the instructor and time to process your thoughts whilst stretching and exercising.


  • Slow moving. Some, not all off the classes can be a little slow moving for people. They may not get enough physically out of the class.
  • There is a huge variation in yoga and pilates class. The instructor plays a massive part, more than any other in dictating the class. A bootcamp for the most part is a bootcamp. However a yoga class with one instructor is never usually the same as the next instructors yoga class.
  • Social aspect. Unlike some of the above styles of exercise. Yoga and pilates are very individualised classes. Although you will probably train in a group, for the most part it is a solo experience guided by your teacher.

What to expect from any of the above styles of exercise:

Depending on which may suit you, one can expect their bodies to go through a period of change, and general strengthening. Whether it be your core from pilates, or arms from boot camp. Your body will inevitably change itself to adapt, building muscle and stabilising itself.

I know most people reading this will only be concerned with losing weight. And let me start by saying all of the above will help achieve this goal. Do you know why? Because losing weight is predominantly to do with diet. If you are ingesting more calories than you are burning. I can guarantee no matter what you do. You will not lose weight. FACT

Building muscle and altering how your body actually looks can be just as good if not sometimes better than losing weight, stop worrying about numbers. Please!!

Now back to numbers, yes granted you may burn more calories at a bootcamp than a yoga class but, it does not make a difference if the rest of your days eating does not add up to a caloric deficit.

That is a different blog for another time. A long one!

Which to do, when to do it:

You’re chosen method of exercise, although yes it should be sustainable as stated above, it should also reflect your physical goals. If a client comes in and expresses he or she wants to drop a certain amount of weight in a short space of time, would I recommend them to attend a pilates class once a week as the method to lose weight? Probably not.

If someone comes to me with several injuries, and has just expressed an interest in gaining control of their body again, would I send them to a 20 person strong bootcamp?? Again no.

Pick a shoe that fits.

A shoe that fits best now, may not feel comfortable 6 months down the line. And that is absolutely fine. Change the shoe and move on.

If you’re looking for escapism from every day life. A walk may be just the trick.

If you’re are looking to shift unwanted weight but are nervous in a group. Seeking a trainer may be best.

If you enjoy a holistic mind body approach. Find a yoga class.

If the social aspect to training is something that will encourage you to keep going, try out a boot camp.

Exercise when done right, has so many physical and mental benefits.

It comes in many different forms.

Pick one that you enjoy. And don’t be afraid to try new things!







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