Treadmill classes are having a moment.
The New York Times recently called treadmill studios “SoulCycle’s successor.” We’re not sure we’d go that far, but it’s certainly a trend that’s hard to ignore. While the belt of doom has long been an alternative for outdoor running when the weather is inclement, runners from novice to experienced are embracing the ‘mill as a way to get in both a tough workout and the camaraderie of group fitness. If you’re not a fan of cold-weather running, using indoor running techniques as a tool to help you mimic your outdoor hill and interval work in a controlled setting will ultimately help you become a stronger runner.
Here’s a look at some of the most talked-about treadmill-based classes around the country. Plus, try either or both of the boredom-busting treadmill workouts below if you can’t make it to these studios.
Belt It Out: 8 Treadmill Classes to Try Now
1. Mile High Run Club
Location: New York, NY
Best for: Beginner to advanced runners
Only in New York City, where you can find a fitness class for whatever your interest, would you stumble upon a studio that’s solely dedicated to indoor running. Founded by triathlete and distance runner Debora Warner, a former Equinox instructor and private run coach, the studio (which gets its name from her love of Colorado trail running) offers two classes.
Dash 28 is a 45-minute option for both beginners and those who race competitively. You can expect 28 minutes of running, with two- and three-minute hill climbs, followed by one-minute recoveries. And that’s just the warm-up! Next you’ll focus on speed intervals, ending with a six-minute progression, where you’ll add 0.5 miles per hour each minute. Wrap it up with 10 minutes of strength training, including kettlebells and bodyweight moves like lunges and mountain climbers.
Ready to go “The Distance?” If you’re training for a race, you’ll love the studio’s hour-long advanced class, which typically covers about five miles made up of longer intervals (think: four minutes instead of two). The goal: pushing you closer to your VO2 max.
2. Barry’s Bootcamp
Location: New York, Miami, Boston, Nashville, and multiple locations in California
Best for: Those who crave some tough love
One of the original treadmill-based classes, Barry’s Bootcamp has been around since 1998. “I developed the class because I was teaching sculpting classes and cycling at the big-box gyms, and there was nothing like this,” says founder Barry Jay. “You were either a hardcore runner or the treadmill was a chore at the gym.” The popular hour-long class splits attendees into two groups: those on the treadmills and those on the floor. After a 12-minute segment at the first station, groups switch and repeat this pattern until 60 minutes is up.
On the Woodway treadmill, a bodyweight-powered device that’s lower in impact than a traditional machine, you’ll run your heart out, potentially reaching speeds of nine-plus miles per hour. Resistance bands and weights will deliver a steady burn on the floor as orders are thrown at you, drill-sergeant style. (Pay attention that you’re following the instructions for your specific group!) Several days a week are full-body workouts, but Jay also incorporated classes that focus on specific muscle groups so clients have the option of following a split-training program as well.
3. Equinox Precision Running
Location: Equinox locations nationwide
Best for: Those who might be injury-prone
Take a BITE out of this: Equinox trainer and run coach David Siik created the Balanced Interval Training Experience as a happy medium between high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and long, steady-state cardio. The 35-minute interval workout mixes both speed and distance to push runners without burning them out. Fast intervals are paired with slower speeds, to ultimately reduce impact on the joints. The workout also holds back on hitting maximum mph until your muscles are warm. The class alternates between heavy on the hills (read: a max of eight percent, but at a recovery pace), 60- and 90-second incline intervals, and speed work — maxing out at three miles per hour above your beginning speed.
4. Clay Health Club’s Tred
Location: New York, NY
Best for: Those who want a killer interval workout spelled out for them
Started in 2002, this treadmill class is the brainchild of Clay trainer Jamie Norcini, who sought to eliminate the boredom that typically surrounds cardio machines. The hour-long class is 80 percent running, split up with a 10-minute core and resistance break in the middle. This could involve anything from bodyweight exercises to ab work with a foam roller as a prop. You’ll begin with one-minute hill jogs (followed by one-minute recovery), then move onto one minute of alarmingly unsettling, balance-testing side gallops and conclude with a series of 45-second sprints. If the idea of running for 45 minutes terrifies you, taking the class on an elliptical alongside your pals on the ‘mill is also an option available to you.
Location: Dallas, TX
Best for: Variety seekers who get easily bored
Tread’s motto is “anyone can run, anyone can lift,” and they make this possible through an array of class offerings from Tread54, named for its length, to Tread(Light), aimed at beginners. The classes are typically 20 minutes on the treadmill, 20 minutes of weights, with the last 20 minutes alternating between the two. In smaller classes, everyone will start on the machines together, but if it’s filled to capacity, half the class will lift while the other half runs.
The strength segments are typically quick bursts of exercises using moderate weights, while the treadmill sections range from killer 15 seconds sprints (with five seconds of recovery) to one- to two-minute intervals (with a one-minute recovery). While the treadmill-based classes are really leg day every day, you can also plan your schedule around their Back and Shoulders or Abs and Arms classes if you want to target those muscles. Or, try the CrossTread class that takes the toughest exercises from each of the body part-focused workouts for an intense, all-encompassing burn.
Location: Chicago, IL
Best For: Those who like to try all the different toys at the gym
Ready to hang on for the run of your life? Shred415 will torch some serious calories during its four 15-minute intervals, alternating between the floor and the Woodway treadmill. Want to hone in one muscle group? Shredded Abs, Butt and Legs, and Arms and Abs give you the option to do just that. Your speed, endurance and agility will be tested as you tackle running segments ranging from 30 seconds to four to five minutes that might include hills, manual runs, walking lunges and side shuffles. Off the belt, you’ll be using everything from TRX bands to Bosu balls, performing each exercise for 30 seconds to a minute.
7. Burn 60
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Best for: Those who are going the distance
Have a long race on your calendar? Whether you can’t find a run buddy or you know you need to get in some strength work, Burn 60 will deliver both through its collaboration of walking, jogging and running on a treadmill. The class format changes based on instructor, but the alternating strength and cardio sections can range from anywhere from five to 15 minutes. The cardio section will challenge your endurance as you grit through 30-second sprints and two-minute climbs with one- to two-minute recoveries. Bodyweight drills such as mountain climbers, jumping jacks and squats will work on your explosive power. In addition to using your own weight, the strength portion could find you using anything from dumbbells to kettlebells to TRX straps.
8. FitMix Mashup
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Best for: Pilates enthusiasts with a running problem
Do you love your Pilates class but wish it had a side of cardio? This hybrid option is for you! Spend 25 minutes doing cardio intervals on the treadmill before hopping onto a reformer for 30 minutes of Pilates. The owners, Brian Tutuhill and Diana Newton, developed the class to combine their favorite strength and cardio disciplines — running and Pilates. You’ll start off alternating between a jog and a run to warm up, before hitting hills at inclines as high as 15 percent. Don’t worry — the Reformer work isn’t leg-focused. Your time there will be spent on core and arms.
Interval Treadmill Workouts
If you’re not lucky enough to live near one of these studios, that doesn’t mean you can’t get in on the new treadmill action! Plus, everyone’s bringing his or her workouts inside this time of year (or at least we are!). We’ve got two of Mile High Run Club’s treadmill workouts you can try in your own gym — or at home if you have a machine.
Unless you’re on a hill, your base incline should be 1 percent, which mimics outdoor running. These speed targets are just suggestions and can be customized to your fitness level. During the threshold segments, you’ll want to run at about 88 percent of your maximum heart rate, or at a pace that you could potentially race at for 50 to 60 minutes.