Until a couple of years ago, I believed the only thing I needed to do to be a consistent runner was to run: run fast, run slow, run up hills and down, run short distances and long distances. Run most days of the week. Just run.
Then I started a new job, gained 20 pounds, and ended up with a knee injury. Running was no longer an option, and that’s when I turned to Beachbody workouts. It took several rounds of 21 Day Fix – with its intense combination of cardio, strength training, pilates, yoga, and stretching – before my weight had stabilized, my lower body strength had improved, and my knee was happy and operational again.
I returned to the road this past April with a 1.5 mile run, and since then, I’ve built up to about 20-22 miles per week. My distances have increased and my pace has improved, and I’m now training for a marathon. Because running has been a constant in my life for the last 18 years, I feel a passion for and familiarity with it that I don’t have with any other form of exercise. Honestly, I can’t imagine my life without it.
BUT. My 21 Day Fix experience convinced me that running alone is not enough. To be a strong and healthy runner, I need to cross-train, and I need to cross-train in a way that truly prepares my body for the hours of jostling and pounding it endures when I run on the road.
So this summer I decided to supplement my running program with another Beachbody program: PiYo. I didn’t know what to expect when I started it, but I’ll admit that I assumed it would be… easy. Or at least easy-ish. As its name suggests, PiYo is a combination of pilates and yoga. My expectations going in: a few downward dogs, a couple of sun salutations here and there, some leg lifts and situps… Maybe a warrior pose. No problem!
I was wrong. The program does include all of those elements, but it expands and builds upon them in such a way that you’re left feeling both zen and exhausted by the end of the workout. Emphasis is on balance, flow, and strength training using your own body weight. Trainer Chalene Johnson makes all of the moves look graceful, but it took me at least six weeks before I could get through even the shortest of the 8 PiYo workouts (they range in length from 25 to 40 minutes) without falling over. And I learned to keep a towel handy: what starts as a series of relaxing sun salutations often give way to lunges, squats, and a deceptively sweet-sounding move called the PiYo Pushup.
But it’s been well worth it. PiYo has been an outstanding cross-training program for multiple reasons:
- It requires no equipment beyond a towel and a yoga mat. I live in an RV. I don’t have room for weights or fancy benches. In this respect, PiYo has been a great option for me.
- It’s affordable. If you have Beachbody on Demand (which is essentially an extensive Netflix-style library of workouts), you can “unlock” the entire PiYo program for $27.
- It emphasizes development of core strength and stability. In retrospect, this is where I’ve gone wrong in the past: I spent so much time worrying about the role that my lower body plays in my running that I neglected to recognize the importance of core stability. Incorporating PiYo into my training program has strengthened my core and, in turn, improved my form, leaving me less prone to injury.
- Chalene is so positive and inspiring. Throughout the workouts, she encourages participants to keep going even when the going gets tough. She lets people know that it’s okay to not get the moves right away. And she emphasizes the importance of appreciating our bodies for what they can do – not what they look like.
- It’s appropriate for various fitness levels. Chalene is joined by three other trainers who demonstrate appropriate modifications ranging from beginner to advanced. Thus, whether you’re a total newbie or a yoga master, you can get an excellent workout from PiYo.
Although I’ll soon be trying a new workout program (the 30-day Country Heat workout – I want to learn how to dance!), I plan to incorporate PiYo into my workout regimen at least twice a week. I also plan on repeating the PiYo program in its entirety after my marathon in October.
If you have questions about PiYo or how you can incorporate it into your training program, let me know. I’ve put together a 90-day schedule that melds PiYo with your choice of running, walking, or biking.
Links to products mentioned in this post:
- PiYo Challenge Pack (PiYo DVDs + 1 month Shakeology) – Currently on sale
- Beachbody on Demand (free for the first month, then $2.99 per week)
- Country Heat Challenge Pack (Country Heat DVDs + 1 month Shakeology) – Currently on sale