In the years that I have been a fitness instructor I have had the opportunity to teach mainly in three different settings; large groups(over 15 people), personalized groups(2-10 people), and on a one-on-one training basis. In my experience, I’ve seen the greatest amount of lasting quantifiable improvement within personalized training programs, when the student/teacher ratio is relatively low, allowing individuals to receive specific personal attention. I have also seen lots of individual progress in larger settings, but it becomes obvious how easy it is for some individuals to get lost in the crowd during a group class and how that can affect a persons learning curve.
For example, someone who has had 1 year of experience with the Kettlebell Swing in a group setting and is still uncomfortable with the movement, versus a person who spends 1 hour covering Swing technique in a one-on-one setting and can perform the movement freely. The latter is in a better position because they have had a concentrated focus on their personal performance and individual cues for the movement. On the other hand, the 1 year group participant may only need a few technical adjustments for the movement to feel more comfortable and be over all more effective. This is where getting lost in the crowd can be detrimental, and where personalized focus becomes paramount.
I try to encourage folks taking part in group fitness programs to enhance their experience by seeking out as much technical support as they have access to. This could be in the form of personalized classes, specialty workshops, or intensive training groups. So, find a trainer to spend some time with, catalog a few blogs that you like, or get a book or video series to follow. In any event, do what you can to make sure that your exercise practice is having the intended effect and not putting you at risk!