How Group Fitness can help Individual Running!
I have been running since the age of 13 and haven't looked back.  I love everything (just about everything) about running.  The challenge, the sound of my feet pounding the pavement and how it makes me feel when I am done. . .amazing (whether I win or lose).  When I started track and field in high school, I wasn't sure where it would take me but one thing I really enjoyed about track is the feeling of being a part of something.  Even though running can be a very individual sport, you can train with a group of people that may have different goals but want the same thing. . .success in their performance.  

After graduating from college, I soon got married, had a couple of kids and started my life.  I have to say, even though I had my family it got pretty lonely running on my own.  I would run with my baby jog-stroller listening to "ELMO" sing while my daughter enjoyed the ride.  I didn't have the same motivation I had when I was with my high school and college track buddies.  Fast forward 6 years and hello to group fitness! I was encouraged to start taking cycling classes at my company's gym.  It wasn't running but it was something a bit different. . .needless to say, I fell in LOVE with it! It added a little pizzazz to my daily workout routine and used muscles that I normally did not use. 

Why group exercise for runners?  Well, first, you are not alone.  You are immediately surrounded by other "individuals" with the same goal "to improve" or "live a healthier lifestyle".  Whether it's looks, weight loss or performance. . .you are doing it with people who are encouraging!

Group Fitness gives your body a break from running every day.  When you run, you use the same muscle groups and your body gets comfortable quickly.  hip flexors, hamstrings, calves, abdominal muscles for breathing and biceps.  What about all the other parts of the body that are not being used when running? Shoulders, obliques, IT band and triceps? Think about it, you don't rotate your body while running or move side to side. A lot of muscles are being neglected and this can cause injury when pushing the same muscles everyday, they need a break and a little strength training from time to time. 
One class that I highly recommend is Les Mills Body Pump.  I took this class one time 4 years ago and quickly got certified in it.  Why? The one thing  I was missing since I left college track was an organized strength training routine.  I had been doing it on my own but got bored and discouraged training alone.  I knew I wasn't hitting all the muscle groups and didn't like working out by myself.  I missed my team!  Les Mills Body Pump works your entire body with weights and at times, your own body weight.  You strength your core, arms, legs, chest and shoulders.  You can go light or heavy depending on your ability and training needs.  My running has improved drastically and at 41 years of age, I haven't lost a lot of ground.  In fact, I have improved my times from when I was 25 and road racing competitively.  

Some runners are afraid of weights and that is understandable.  But this is what is great about physical fitness,  start with a personal trainer, learn the proper way to lift weights and understand what you body can/can not do.  Then, you can add in group fitness (one's recommended by your personal trainer) and reap the benefits of working out with others.   It will prevent you from getting injured, you will definitely become a stronger runner and it can redefine your body in a way that you probably will not recognize yourself. . .seriously! 

Other group exercises that are beneficial are kick boxing and dance classes.  These classes will get your body to move from side to side and rotate, something running does not do.  This allows opposing muscles (muscles that assist major running muscles to move) to become stronger and realign your body.  

Outdoor & Indoor cycling classes such as free-style spinning or Les Mills RPM are also great ways to get you to the next level.  You can take the pressure off of your legs and feet but continue to increase your endurance and VO2 max with these classes.  Strengthening your hamstrings and quadriceps gives your legs more power when running.  I am telling you, once I incorporated group fitness into my training schedule, my running has been incredible!  

Everyone knows I am a runner at heart but when you are in a class with others that are trying to stay in shape, increase their performance or just look good you automatically have this HUGE support system that is addictive and effective! TRY IT!    

Other great group exercise classes:
Boot Camps


PICS from this weekend's IDEA CONFERENCE 2012!
Dance off this past Sunday at the Idea Conference was AMAZING! I am a little partial to BodyJam featuring our own Jericho McDuffie. This girl can really get you moving!

200 riders at the Les Mills RPM Indoor Cycling Event! SO much fun and great to connect with all my fellow instructors from the San Diego area! LMISD all the way!

CXWORX is the next big "thang" to get your body in-shape in 30 minutes! CXWORX is growing rapidly behind Les Mills Body Pump and can be "buddied" with other LMI programs to put a little "POP" into your cross training!
Check this class out at your local 24 Hour Fitness

TRX has bumped it up to a whole new level! Check out this great suspension trainer and how you can get an entire body workout! LOL! LOVE!

Instructors and Trainers came in HUGE numbers to all the great "group fitness" classes to learn the newest moves to add to their classes and gyms. This is a great way to increase your personal training numbers too! Keep learning!