100% of runners hate cross training.*
There are probably a lot of reasons for this, but I feel like the main reason is simply because cross training isn’t running. And running is the best, so by default everything else is simply the worst. BUT, it’s important and since I can’t run right now I’m confined to the world of cross training anyway. So here are some things I’ve tried over the years that I haven’t completely despised.
Bikram Yoga: So a lot of people think Bikram yoga and hot yoga are the same thing, and they’re almost right. They’re both hellishly hot and they both have “yoga” in the name, but Bikram is different because the hell you experience is consistent from class to class. It’s 90 minutes long, with 26 poses that focus on strength and flexibility. It’s practiced in a room that’s about 105 degrees, and the poses are always in the same order. I actually really liked the consistency aspect of Bikram, because it drastically reduced how many times I embarrassed myself in the beginning. I even caught on within the first week or so. (By “caught on” I mean I understood the general gist of the moves, even though I executed them with the grace of a baby giraffe.) Anyway, the ONE thing I’d caution anyone who was trying Bikram for the first time is that you sweat a lot. I don’t care if you’re Kate Middleton, you don’t “glisten” in this class. No matter who you are, after a Bikram yoga class, it looks like you just got out of a pool (this is NOT an exaggeration). Girls, you know how sometimes after a run you’re like, “sure I can wear this sports bra one more time before I wash it”? Not with Bikram. There are no re-wears, which ended up sort of being a deal-breaker for me because at the time I was in an apartment with coin operated laundry, so you know, laundry is a whole thing. BUT, I will say that during my little spurt of “practicing” Bikram, it did fix my runner’s knee and made me feel insanely healthy, albeit gross, after every class.
Pilates: Unlike yoga, Pilates is focused more on strength versus flexibility, which is why it appealed to me. It’s mostly about building a strong core, but I somehow failed to get a six pack out of it (I’m sure this is the fault of the program and has nothing to do with the wine and Oreos I consume regularly). Despite the lack of washboard abs, I also really enjoyed this class for a long time, too. I stuck with it for nearly 2 years. It’s only recently that I got a little bored with it. It’s slow paced, and doesn’t give me the healthy feeling or endorphin release that I want out of a workout. But it did keep me injury free (minus this little run-in with a bicycle), so I’d still recommend it as a viable option for any runner.
BodyPump: I’ve mentioned my new love for BodyPump in a previous post, but when I first tried it several months ago I nearly cried. It is very overwhelming and fast-paced for newbies. It’s 55 minute long class that uses light weights with a lot of repetition and it targets all of your major muscle groups (legs, glutes, back, chest, shoulders, triceps, biceps, and abs). If you’re new to weight lifting like I was, this class could provoke tears because the transitions are so fast and it’s just so hard to keep up. But now that I’ve gotten the hang of it and know what I’m doing, I’m all about it. It’s a nice blend of cardio and weight training, and I feel like I’m actually seeing progress. In the right light it actually looks like I might have the beginning of biceps! Since I’m still keeping up with this one I don’t have anything negative to say just yet, other than it will leave you cripplingly sore for several days after your first few classes, so take it easy and don’t plan on washing your hair/lifting your arms above your head at all for at least 2 days.
Cross training is a tricky thing to stick to, but I’ve found that classes are the best way to hold yourself accountable. Because if you’re anything like me, you’re really not going to to do that 7 minute ab routine 3x a week all by yourself.
*This is just a rough estimation based on my own dislike for cross training.