When training for a race, runners have a tendency to focus only on getting in all of their necessary miles. There are also many who cover those miles alone. These are the times group fitness classes can benefit runners the most.
“Runners are notoriously single minded when it comes to fitness. While it’s great to focus on your passion, it’s also good to round out your experience by cross-training,” says Yusuf Jeffers, head coach at Tone House in New York City.
If this sounds like you, it may be time to branch out and try something new. These group fitness classes can help you run faster, stay healthy and find new workout buddies.
A little (or big) stretch never hurt any runner. That’s why yoga can be the perfect complement to any runner’s training routine. Whether relaxed or vigorous, there is a practice to suit every runners’ needs.
“As the miles pack on and the constant wear and tear of running takes a toll on your body, yoga is a great way to cross-train that can help keep runners healthy, mobile and strong,” says Austin Kapetanakis, an instructor at Lyons Den Power Yoga.
But it isn’t just about the physical benefits. Mindfulness gained through yoga helps runners stay mentally strong. “Through practice, we develop our grit to get through a pose or run and stay with the uncomfortable and challenging situations,” notes Kapetanakis
Too often runners only attend spin class when they are injured. However these amazing cardio workouts can be integrated into your training while saving your legs from constant pounding.
“Remember: Low impact does not always mean low intensity,” says Julia Gytri, a certified personal trainer based in New York, N.Y. “Whether you opt into a more endurance-focused ride or you’re looking to increase stamina through high-intensity intervals, you’re going to break a serious sweat.”
Gytri also notes that you get more than just fitness from a spin class. Many studios emphasize community, meaning you may find a new cross-training buddy.
Don’t let this ballet-inspired class sway you. Runners don’t need formal dance training or even much coordination to get real benefits.
“Barre is a very safe, full-body interval training class using your own body weight as resistance,” says Tori Anderson, instructor at Bar Method in Summit, N.J.
Each class focuses on even the smallest leg muscles, ensuring you strengthen the ones that can be weakened through running. There is also an emphasis on building a strong core.
“Barre works each large muscle group one muscle at a time and then stretches it, to elongate the muscle and improve flexibility,” says Anderson.
Runners never shy away from a challenge and high-intensity interval training definitely offers one. These classes feature a mix of cardio and strength exercises for anywhere from 15–90 seconds, usually accompanied by short rest. It’s a great alternative to get your heart pumping and your muscles burning.
Every HIIT class focuses on different exercises and muscle groups. If you’re feeling bored of running alone, seek out a studio that emphasizes partner work or team competition.
“HIIT is the perfect complement to running workouts because they help address possible strength deficits in a highly functional workout all while helping to maintain the cardiovascular conditioning that runners are always concerned about losing,” says Jeffers.
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“It’s a myth that rowing is upper body-centric. Sixty percent of the work comes from your legs, which means you’re building power in your posterior chain and core,” says Gytri.
You won’t have to hit the water either. Each class consists of interval workouts on the rower, where everyone in class works together as a crew. Sure, this class still gives you toned arms, but it’s also a great total-body workout that complements running.