I was once the quintessential gym rat.
The gym was my happy place. A place where I could elliptical, lift and take a myriad of classes to my heart’s content.
The gym was my escape. It was a place where I needed only to focus on my body. And for years I have allowed myself membership at one of the most luxurious fitness chains in the world.
It has been well worth it.
These days, however, I use the gym a bit less. Where I once went six times each week, I now go only three or four. It is because my focus has shifted to running — an activity that I believe is best done outdoors.
Now the roads and trails are my happy place, and the gym is where I go to cross-train.
I take a mix of classes (usually yoga, pilates and barre each once per week) and use the cables once each week (I keep 10 lb dumbells at home for additional strength training); but I spend most of my gym time on an elliptical machine.
The elliptical was once my favorite equipment at the gym. I could stay on for hours, never tiring of the different programs or resistance and incline options. But suddenly, I’m less enthused.
My Saturday afternoon elliptical session was fabulous. I was happy the whole time. But I assume that was because it was a very gentle workout, which was just what I needed upon my return to the gym after more than a week away.
This morning, however, I just couldn’t get in to it. I stayed on for a 40 minute cross-training session and followed that up with 200 ball crunches. I felt great afterwards, sure. But for the first time in a long time, I felt that I needed something more.
The elliptical has long been my cross-training crutch, but after more than a month of running daily, the elliptical just doesn’t have the same luster as a brisk outdoor run before work. That could change. The elliptical could once again be my refuge. Today’s lackluster workout could merely have been because I didn’t choose the most challenging setting (or, more likely, because my gym’s morning playlist didn’t exactly consist of what I would think of as “high energy” music).
I want to find a morning workout routine for my “rest days” that will challenge my body and mind in the same way that running does.
I am thinking of trying a more dynamic strength training routine. I may have to give that a shot on Friday morning.
Also, a good friend has been pushing me to try a Soul Cycle class with her for weeks. I may have to relent.
What are some of your favorite ways to cross-train? Swimming, spinning, strength training, skating, elliptical-ing?
For more information on the benefits of cross-training for runners, check out these articles:
The Best Cross-Training for Runners (Active.com)
Cross-Training for Runners (About.com)
Four Approaches To Cross-Training For Runners (Competitor.com)