Best fitness classes for runners: Treadmill classes

Photo: Barry's Bootcamp

If you’re a little too familiar with the looming sense of pre-speedwork dread or can’t bring yourself to sprint unless a soon-to-depart train is involved, you’re in luck. Treadmill classes are the answer to your speedwork session prayers – we took a look inside to discover exactly how pounding something other than the pavements can improve your running.

The workout: Following a warm-up run to wake up your legs, you’re looking at a 50/50 split of treadmill intervals and strength training. In terms of how that’s divided, it’s up to the instructor. “Every single class is different,” explains Hannah Luck, trainer at Barry’s Bootcamp, the studio famed for its challenging treadmill classes. “I personally like to incorporate a bit of everything. I’ll do a round that has some hills - maybe endurance hill runs or hill sprints. I’ll also do a round that works purely on speedwork and then some endurance runs.”

Strength-wise, workouts can be full body or area-specific, such as legs or core. Pick and choose your session to suit what you most need to focus on – Luck recommends Butt and Legs at Barry’s Bootcamp. “One of the areas in which most runners are quite weak is their glutes. A lot of runners are quite quad-dominant and they don’t recruit their glutes properly. Obviously doing strength work focusing a lot on that area, your muscles get stronger and the point at which they fatigue gets further away.”

The benefits: For anyone with even the smallest competitive bone in their body, copping out halfway through an interval seems less appealing in a room full of fellow runners. “When you’ve got an instructor behind you like ‘go on, keep pushing, you’ve got 30 seconds more,’ you know it’s a finite period of time. I think it’s much easier when you’re outside on your own to give up,” Luck says.

New to intervals? That’s not a problem. “We always offer three levels of running, tailored to beginner, intermediate and advanced, which gives you options on your speed. Instructors are always very open to adapting things where they need to.”

Best for: Speedwork newbies looking to ramp up their race training.

Give it a go: Londoners can head to Barry’s Bootcamps near Liverpool Street and Euston. Selected David Lloyd leisure clubs across the UK offer OrangeTheory, a treadmill interval class which also incorporates rowing and strength work.