According to the American Council on Exercise, cross training is defined as an exercise regimen that uses several modes of training to develop a specific component of fitness. Reaching that perfect balance between aerobic/cardio conditioning and strength training has been a lifelong pursuit for many people. I abandoned the traditional gym workout long ago and honestly don’t recall the last time I picked up a dumbbell. Despite having the muscle tone and strength that come with years of taking pole dance/pole tricks classes, I know I need to not completely ignore cardio conditioning. I also should step up my stretching/flexibility game…
As much as I would love to take a pole fitness class every day, I realize that my body needs a little bit of variety (variety is, as they say, the spice of life…). In an attempt to find something that would come in a distant 2nd to my love of all things pole, I’ve “taste tested” a few activities to supplement my dance training.
- Verdict: Restorative or Level 1 is a nice way to add more stretching and keep me feeling grounded and balanced. Hot yoga is not for me. Goat Yoga is definitely for me!
- Flexibility classes. Verdict: Excellent way to train for my elusive front squared splits.
- Yoga Wheel classes. Verdict: Fun and extremely versatile apparatus to play with!
- Indoor cycling classes. Verdict: Great for cardio, but not my cup of tea.
- Indoor Rock Climbing. Verdict: Excellent way to build upon my grip strength and upper body toning.
- Racquetball/tennis. Verdict: I wish there were more racquetball courts around, as this was my first love back in the 90’s
- Verdict: (Who am I kidding…never even tried it…)
- Adult ballet. Verdict: Took classes several years ago and loved it, but the studio moved. Need to start this up again!
It’s very easy to get “tunnel vision” when it comes to one’s fitness regimen of choice. The body, along with the mind, needs some variety and new challenges. Not everything is going to appeal to every person, but sampling a few types of “never tried before” classes can feel like an exciting adventure! Heck, you may surprise yourself by discovering an activity that you never imagined you would and actually having a blast during it. If you live in a colder climate with regular snowfall, those who stick to indoor gyms may want to throw on some ski gear and take a snowboarding lesson. Those of us in warmer climates have a plethora of water sports to choose from as well. The possibilities are endless, it seems, with so many “alternative fitness” classes popping up everywhere.
Just as eating a variety of nutritious and healthful foods keeps your body happy and fueled, giving your muscles a variety of ways to work, tone, stretch, etc. keeps both your body AND your mind from getting bored of the “same old same” workout. An added benefit of cross training is injury prevention. Overloading certain “vulnerable” areas of the body (i.e. shoulders) when executing spins and tricks multiple times per week will almost always result in some degree of injury over a period of time.
I’ve read that people frequently get bored from doing the same fitness routine day after day, but somehow, I don’t think they were referring to pole dancers! Although pole does offer a variety of classes that do work different muscle groups, I can appreciate the need to include non-pole options, especially as the springtime weather approaches and the opportunity to be outdoors increases. Yes, you can always set up a stage pole on the beach or hang an aerial hoop from a tree in the park, but those options are not always available.
So, whether you’ve always wanted to try paddle boarding, Tai-Chi at sunrise, or one of your local themed 5k runs/walks with 150 of your closest friends, set aside some time to cross train. I promise…your body will thank you and your pole will be there patiently waiting when you get back 😊
Photo courtesy of Dragon Hooper and Jai Dee Yoga Studio (Limitless Yoga Wheel workshop)