Instructor-Led Workouts vs Self-Guided Workouts: Which is Best?

By Lindsey Johnson


There are many benefits to exercising under the supervision of a trained coach. They can help ensure proper form for safety and correct any habits that could be harmful. They can help you push your limits and keep you working when you feel ready to quit. Having a set time to show up creates accountability. A coach can design programming that provides muscle variety and a well-rounded training program.

Maybe Jazzercise isn’t your thing, but not all instructor-led workouts are the same. Coaches can lead classes such as CrossFit, Orange Theory, weightlifting and even goat yoga or maybe you’d feel more comfortable with one-on-one or small group instruction.


Instructor-Led Workouts

Maggie Martin: PELOTON

Advertising Director Maggie Martin has combined instructor-led classes with working out at home on her own schedule. “I’ve been in the fitness space for quite awhile and have tried different workouts and gyms. I competed in figure competitions before it was cool. I tried CrossFit and powerlifting. I’ve been working out at Muscle Farm for the last three years and recently added barre to the routine. But I wanted something that was quick before work. Something I didn’t have to get in the car and drive to. Peloton allowed me to get workouts in from home. I can pick the length of the class, the type of class and even a leisurely bike ride through another part of the world. You do have to be diligent. I always tell my boyfriend when I’m going to do a Peloton workout. That way, he can keep me accountable.”

Peloton has become a very popular option for home workouts that also include the instructor portion. They offer yoga, strength, stretching, meditation, cardio, bootcamp, and outdoor walking and running programs through an app with a monthly fee, which doesn’t require having Peloton equipment.

Santos Hernandez: CROSSFIT

Food truck owner Santos Hernandez participates in live CrossFit workouts. “Getting into the lifting environment is less intimidating because of the guidance I received on proper lifting, proper breathing, recovery, pre-workouts and proper dieting. All these things make an instructor the most valuable asset in making a fitness lifestyle change. I could not have done it without my instructors keeping me accountable for my fitness.”


Instructor-Led Workouts

Morgan Rogers: ANIMAL FLOW

Certified Personal Trainer and Animal Flow instructor Morgan Rogers states that, “For me as a trainer, online classes via Zoom have been great with one caveat: Cameras on. If participants don’t turn their cameras on, I can’t correct them on form or give them encouragement. On the other side of the coin, when I participate in online classes, having my camera on means I’m more accountable. I might push myself just a bit harder knowing that everyone can see me. Participating from the safety of your home might also give you the courage to try something new!”

Whether it’s in person or through cyberspace, instructor-led courses can provide safe workouts that will challenge and motivate you. If you’re not quite sold, try one from the comfort of your own home and be open to trying something new.

These days there are a wide variety of options available for exercise. If you took a poll of your friends and neighbors, you’d probably learn they are involved in everything from traditional gyms, outdoor activities, specialty classes, home gyms and more. There is literally something for everyone! With so many avenues to explore, how do you know what will work for you?



Sometimes sticking to an exact timetable for workouts can be difficult due to other life responsibilities. Maybe exercise is your meditation and you prefer to tune out from the world for awhile. For one reason or another, working out on your own routinely or on occasion also has benefits.



Chiropractor Dr. Paul Gardner has been keeping up with his routine in both his garage gym and at the stadium. “I chose to work out solo both in my garage gym (that I built luckily right before COVID happened) and at the Swamp for cardio/HIIT training. The reasoning behind that was to limit my exposure to my patients and my family. My workouts have been very consistent and I do the best I can to constantly switch up my routines. I do miss the camaraderie and variety of my gyms (Go Primal and Gainesville Health and Fitness Center) and plan on returning at some point. I will continue to use my home gym and the Swamp for convenience and self-meditation for the time being.”


Instructor-Led Workouts


Firefighter/Paramedic Brandon Starr completes his exercise either on his own or with his colleagues at the station. “My workouts consist of functional fitness circuits and weight training. An example of functional fitness would be a stair climb wearing a complete structural firefighting ensemble and air pack with the goal to climb as many flights of stairs as possible before running out of air. The goal is to train to be able to physically perform the tasks required by my job. Self-guided workouts allow for flexibility and creativity. As long as I stay self-motivated and disciplined, I can use that creativity and flexibility to reach my goals.”


The Verdict:

Instructor-led workouts allow for a structured routine, correct form and social benefits of interacting with other like-minded people. Whether in a group or one-on-one session, accountability is a major factor. On the other hand, self-guided workouts allow for creativity, flexibility and the freedom to try new things. They do require a bit more discipline as well as some basic knowledge on proper form. Perhaps a combination of instructor-led classes and self-guided exercises will allow you the opportunity to work on form and get an understanding of a good routine while providing additional flexibility on the days you want to perform a self-guided workout. In the end, the best workout is the one you can commit to and do on a regular basis. Stay consistent and have fun!


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