In 2016, Running USA reported that almost 17 million people crossed the finish line of a road race. Running is one of the most popular sports because almost anyone can do it; you just need a pair of shoes and you’re off. No fancy equipment or training plans are needed, and if you want to start running, you can simply begin by running for a few minutes and walking for a few minutes to get your body to adjust. Every runner — including marathoners — has been a beginner and modern technology, with apps like MapMyRun, makes it easy to connect with other runners for advice and to find training routes in your area.
As with any sport, however, there is a chance of injury. One statistical review reported that the overall rate for running injuries each year varies between 37–56%. There are injury-prevention measures that can be taken, including prioritizing proper rest and recovery, but another important step in avoiding injury and getting stronger as a runner includes cross-training.
When it comes to a well-rounded training regimen, many runners are often guilty of neglecting cross-training. Though it can seem difficult to fit it into a busy schedule already filled with work, family and required mileage, with a little creativity, you can add a few sessions of cross-training every week.
Fitness classes are a great alternative to heading to the gym by yourself and making up a routine as you go. Not only will you get an effective workout in just under an hour, you’ll have access to a trainer who can help you with form — to further avoid injury — and there’s no pressure to create new routines to keep making fitness gains.
Unique fitness classes are popping up nationwide and we’ve rounded up five all runners should try at least once.
1. AQUA CYCLING
For runners, cycling classes are always better than spin classes. Not sure what the difference is? Cycling classes emulate an actual road bike with intervals, inclines, declines and more using resistance, whereas spin classes — which are, of course, all the rage — focus on speed punctuated by dance-like moves all done in a hot room (with recent reports of injury due to the classes escalating). If you’ve tried cycling classes and want a bit more of a challenge, aqua cycling may be just what you are looking for. Like aqua jogging, aqua cycling is done on stationary bikes in the water. The water makes the activity easier on your joints and adds resistance to give you an even harder workout.
Where to try it: Classes have begun to pop up in New York (at studios such as AQUA) and Los Angeles (at studios such as Aqua Cycling) and there are even some resorts (such as the Grand Palladium Vallarta Resort & Spa) that are offering classes to guests.
READ MORE > 3 CYCLING WORKOUTS IN 30 MINUTES OR LESS
2. TRX CLASSES
At first glance, TRX can seem intimidating, which is why a class is a great way to get introduced to the workout. A type of suspension training workout, you use bands and supports to get in a full-body workout. You may have seen some of the equipment at the gym, but in classes, you’ll be guided through the workout by a trainer and have full access to equipment you probably don’t have at home. TRX is great for improving core strength and balance, all something runners need plenty of.
Where to try it: Many pilates and barre studios have begun to offer TRX classes. If you are interested in finding a class near you, the easiest way is to head to the TRX Training website for a country-wide directory.
3. SURF FITNESS
Another class great for building core strength and balance is surf fitness classes. If you’ve ever wanted to learn to surf but didn’t have the chance — especially due to a lack of ocean — you can get a similar experience on land. Surf fitness classes use special boards that can ‘slide’ around to give you an extra stability workout. Routines are similar to surfing and involve paddling and jumping up on the board, with some classes also utilizing hand weights during the workout.
Where to try it: Studios have begun to pop up around the country, with some of the most popular being City Surf Fitness in Austin, Texas, and SURFSET Fitness, which has multiple locations across the country (and appeared on “Shark Tank”).
4. STRETCHING CLASSES
If you are one of those runners who often neglects stretching post-workout, a stretching class may be for you. These, of course, are different than yoga and just involve trainer-guided stretching sessions to keep you limber and make sure you focus some time specifically on the recovery practice. Some classes also use tools such as foam rollers to help you reach deep muscles, adding even more incentive for runners to attend.
Where to try it: For stretching classes, check your local gym or yoga studio to see if they have offerings. Some classes may only be 15 minutes long, so they make a great option to drop in after a cycling class or intense strength workout.
5. TREADMILL CLASSES
If you are one of those runners who refers to the treadmill as the ‘dreadmill,’ these classes will surely change your mind. There is no slogging through miles in these studios; instead, the treadmill becomes a social experience. Runners are led through interval exercises on the treadmill by a trainer — often with upbeat music setting the right tone in the background — and you’ll find that each workout serves a distinct purpose. Thanks to inclines and more, runners who usually stick to flat roads get some much needed hill work. Once class is over, you’ll be surprised how fast the miles — and time — flew by.
Where to try it: Not every city has treadmill studios yet, however, if you are in New York, Mile High Run Club is said to be one of the best. Gym giant Equinox — with locations all over the U.S.— has also begun to offer treadmill classes at some of its locations, so check the gym nearest you.
GEAR UP FOR YOUR NEXT WORKOUT