by Junko Kazukawa, Certified Group Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer.

Are you a short, long or ultra-distance runner? Do you have a running program with 5-6 days of constant, hard running days? Are you putting too many “junk” miles on your body? Are you frustrated with not seeing positive results from your training? Cross-training – using one or more sports to train for a specific sport – can be the key to success for runners of all levels. Total-body training makes you a stronger runner.  I believe one of the best way to cross-train can be found by participating in a group fitness program.

Why? Group fitness offers many types of exercise classes with different training modalities such as cardio-based aerobics, indoor cycling, strength-based weight lifting, sports conditioning that incorporates agility and speed, plyometrics (a type of exercise training designed to produce fast, powerful movements, and improve the functions of the nervous system, generally for the purpose of improving performance in sports), balance and coordination, and mind / body (mainly yoga and Pilates) for core strength, flexibility and relaxation. 

:: If you feel exhausted from the pounding of running, or are injured, try taking an indoor cycling class to replace your run. You will still simulate the aerobic value of running. Non-weight-bearing activities, such as TRX, can eliminate some of the impact causing injury.

:: High-quality aerobic activity can be equivalent to running mileage. Try a BOSU or sports training class to gain stamina and power in your legs, and to improve balance coordination, ankle stability and foot strength.  

:: Core and weight / strength-based classes will correct muscle imbalance and running posture, so you can run faster and longer with sustained efficient running economy. Strong muscles reduce injuries by protecting and supporting joints. Or try Zumba, a fun cardio-based workout that can help maintain your aerobic base and promote weight loss.

:: On your recovery days, try yoga or Pilates. Your body will love the opportunity to exercise without impact, and increasing blood flow to fatigued muscle tissues promotes fast recovery.

There are so many benefits group fitness can provide to runners. In addition to the physiological benefit, you will also be led by qualified instructors in all classes. You will feel the great group dynamics in the class so you can push each other hard. Most importantly, it is fun to exercise with your friends – you will have positive effects on each other as your work toward your personal fitness goals… whatever they are!