Are Treadmill Running Classes a Worthy Trend?

Ashley Lauretta
by Ashley Lauretta
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Are Treadmill Running Classes a Worthy Trend?

Over the years a new crop of workout classes have popped up — and thanks to subscription-based programs that let you try a variety of classes without committing to a single gym — a lot of these classes are turning into new trends. On the running front, group treadmill classes are bringing new life to the treadmill (which had previously been referred to as a dreadmill) and getting runners excited about logging miles in a room full of people.

The thing about this trend, however, is it’s making running much more costly than it used to be when you simply stepped out the door and hit the roads. Are we starting to overcomplicate the sport?

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THIS NEW RUNNING TREND

While strength training is still the most popular activity, treadmill classes were the fastest growing trend, according to ClassPass. In fact, there was an 82% increase in classes that incorporate treadmills in just one year, from 2017–2018. ClassPass also labeled Washington, D.C., as trendsetters; its residents are the most likely to book a treadmill class on the platform.

While users may save by being able to avoid membership fees to a specific gym, boutique classes add up. Is the cost worth jumping on the treadmill and joining the trend? Running is often lauded for simply requiring a pair of shoes to get you out the door and into your workout. Treadmill classes offer runners of all levels the chance to run side-by-side, but according to Bree Lambert-Sanders, an endurance athlete and performance coach at Live Well Finish Strong (her accolades include three 100-mile wins at Tahoe Rim Trail 100 and the previous title of USA Track and Field Female Masters National 50K Champion), they can’t be a sufficient substitute for a quality run outdoors.

When it comes to running outside or on the treadmill, running outside is more difficult but everyone responds differently. “[I believe] running on a treadmill gives a false sense of security when it comes to pace, stride and ease,” adds Lambert-Sanders. “Running outside — especially on trails — allows you to have a sensory experience that is not just neural, but also stresses your body’s mechanics in a way that can’t be duplicated on a treadmill.”

Of course, treadmill classes aren’t the only part of running that costs us; the other exorbitant fees come for runners on the roads. It wouldn’t be fair to discuss how this new indoor trend comes with a price without acknowledging the large sums required to race on the roads.

WHERE ELSE RUNNING COSTS US

Taking to the roads isn’t always cheap, either. The price to register for a race, combined with transaction fees and any associated travel expenses can leave quite a dent in your wallet. For example, getting into the Boston Marathon sets you back $200 for registration fees alone ($250 if you are an international runner) and that doesn’t include transportation to the race or even qualifying for it. Add in the money you spend on your qualifying race(s) and training plan and, well, you’ve dropped hundreds of dollars before you’ve even gotten the most basic necessity: gear.

Lambert-Sanders says there are a few ways to save money when racing, including sticking to smaller, local races in your area or emailing a race director to see if you can earn a credit by volunteering. Additionally, budgeting for those bucket list races — like Boston — helps you prepare for the costs associated with racing. However, should you travel to a race, beware: Local establishments prepare themselves (and increase prices) for the influx of visitors to big city races such as the New York City Marathon, Chicago Marathon and more.

“You can definitely plan a vacation around a race but that can also be expensive if it’s a big race (such as the Boston Marathon),” warns Lambert-Sanders. “Cities tend to increase hotel rates if they know tourism will be up.”

WHY WE SHOULDN’T FORGET TO GO BACK TO THE BASICS

Even if you are spending money to take the latest treadmill class that pops up in your neighborhood or take part in those big-ticket races, there is something to be said for making sure you get back to the basics every once in awhile. We aren’t saying you shouldn’t join your local training group or get that piece of gear you’ve been eyeing (though, there are definitely ways to get training guidance without a coach.)

Lambert-Sanders reminds us the only thing you really should invest in as a runner is good shoes. “There is no substitution for proper shoe fit; most injuries stem from improper running mechanics often elevated by a lack of consideration for finding the right fit,” she adds. This doesn’t mean you need to buy the latest and greatest technology out there.

Sometimes, even in the middle of a heavy training block, it is good just to go out and run. See where your feet take you. Don’t overcomplicate what Lambert-Sanders refers to as “pure sport.”

About the Author

Ashley Lauretta
Ashley Lauretta

Ashley is a journalist based in Austin, Texas. She is the assistant editor at LAVA and her work appears in The Atlantic, ELLE, GOOD Sports, espnW, VICE Sports, Health, Men’s Journal, Women’s Running and more. Find her on Twitter at @ashley_lauretta.

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