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The Return of the Treadmill

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I hate the treadmill. I referred to it as the "dreadmill" in a previous blog post because I find it painfully boring to run with no change of scenery except the occasional ebb and flow of fellow treadmillers on either side of me. Upon googling the term "dreadmill," it turns out that I didn't coin the phrase, and I am not alone in my distaste for the stay-in-one-place running device.

Despite our near-universal hatred for the treadmill, it is the most commonly used cardio machine used at the gym, with 40 percent of health club goers using it last year. Lately, treadmill use has been invigorated by innovative group fitness classes.

The Mile High Running Club (MHRC) isn't what you dirty-minded readers may think – or hope – it is. MHRC is New York City's first treadmill running studio, which opened earlier this month. It is one sign of a true treadmill comeback. Equinox launched Precision Running classes on its treadmills in June. Crunch clubs are expanding their Tread N’ Shred classes to get in on the growing trend.

A few weeks ago, in Chile, a shockingly enormous treadmill, measuring three meters wide and six meters long, was used by groups of up to 10 runners at a time for a racing event. Yes, 10 people on one treadmill raced each other.

Back in the U.S., at MHRC, there are 30 treadmills on a spring-loaded, AstroTurf floor. Part of the allure of the new treadmill classes is that they turn an oft-solitary activity into a group experience with support from experts. Debora Warner, MHRC founder, said, “People have been training on their own, in isolation, and without assistance or coaching on the treadmill for so long. I think people want to train smarter."

Most of us are familiar with other boutique group fitness classes, such as SoulCycle, barre method, and rowing machine classes. Thumping music and a hyper-energized environment are key to these classes. At the treadmill classes, however, there is no music at all. The programs are creatively structured to keep participants on their toes. In a class entitled "Good Cop, Bad Cop," the instructor dictates the treadmill incline, alternating between flat ("good cop") and steep ("bad cop").

The benefits of training on a treadmill -- even for hardcore marathon runners -- include: racking up mileage on a low-impact surface to reduce the chance of injury, running in close proximity with others despite speed variances, staying warm during frigid winter weather, accurately pacing and performing interval training, and motivation and feedback from an expert coach.

I hope you enjoyed learning about these new treadmill classes. We'd love to hear from you. What do you do while you're on the treadmill to help time fly by? Comment on our Facebook page at facebook.com/flytefitness or tweet us at @flytefitness.

Be Flyte Fit,

Jeremy Greenberg

Co-Founder & CEO
Flyte Fitness