Top fitness classes for runners

Are you a runner who loves studio classes too? Fiona Bugler has some top tips to help you choose the best classes, allowing you to get the maximum running benefits from your workouts.

Top fitness classes for runners

It's great to mix up your training, interspersing your running sessions with other types of workout. If you need any more convincing, check out the many benefits of cross training for runners.

Body pump

Body pump is a fantastic resistance to music workout using a barbell. You increase resistance to suit you.

Why it works for running

It’ll improve your strength without bulking up as the focus is on high reps (800 reps in a single workout) not heavy weights. It works the whole body and more than one joint is moving at once, making it useful for running. It’s also great if you’re short on time and want someone else to plan your resistance sessions.


This indoor workout on a stationery bike promises a high-intensity mix of cardio and muscular strength. The instructor will tell you when to up the pace, adjust your resistance, and come out of your saddle.

Why it works for running

Spinning will strengthen and tone the muscles in the legs, without the impact. It’s also fantastic for improving leg turnover, particularly when you are going at a cadence of 90 rpm or more. Pedalling at a cadence of 90 rpm means your hips are rotating at a velocity of 220 degrees per second. This is equivalent to a 6:45 per mile running pace.

Step aerobics

Step Aerobics really took off in the 1980s, the choreographed routine of stepping up and down on a rectangular, square, or circular platform. Most classes will mix up a cardio workout with a muscular strength and endurance and/or core work section.

Why it works for running

Step is a fun-packed total body workout. It’s great cross training for runners, who might like the buzz of the cardio, but need to work on their strength and total body conditioning. It also improves your co-ordination and balance and this will help runners, who need balance to run well.


There are many varieties of yoga from meditative relaxing classes to more dynamic strength workouts. Yoga puts your mind in touch with your body, and will develop core strength and flexibility. It’s low impact and most classes don’t involve much cardio work. Breathing is a focal point in yoga, as prana (breath) is our life source.

Why it works for running

With its mind-body emphasis, a mindful approach and focus on breathing, yoga is the perfect antidote to the rigours of running. And stilling the mind and being in touch with the body will transfer well to racing! And you’ll work the stuff we runners avoid: flexibility and core strength.

Ashtanga yoga, also “Hot” or Bikram yoga, where participants perform yoga routines in a room heated to approximately 36 degrees is a good dynamic workout for ‘Type A’ characters. Not only will it still give you a buzz but the heat will help soothe sore knees/backs and relax over-worked muscles. Try classes aimed specifically at runners, like those run by Laura Denham Jones.

Take a look at the 5 best yoga poses for runners.


Pilates, developed by Joseph Pilates, for injured dancers in the late 19th Century is a low-impact but challenging workout that won’t leave you feeling out of breath. GPs routinely prescribe Pilates to help those recovering from injury, or suffering from a bad back.

Exercises require absolute concentration and focus is on precision and developing core strength; great posture that will help you to appear instantly taller and slimmer; and body awareness that teaches you to perform every activity you do with ease and grace.

Why it works for running

Increasing flexibility, balance and inner strength all help to prevent injury. Like yoga, Pilates has an emphasis on breathing through the movements that will help runners, training you to breathe smoothly using all available lung capacity.

The core strength acquired through Pilates will improve your body alignment and balance, and means the impact of running will be distributed evenly throughout all the muscles in the body.

Take a look at these 4 Pilates moves to help strengthen your core.

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