I've known for years that my core conditioning is pretty poor. So a few weeks ago, I signed up for a boot camp conditioning class. The class consists of various exercises designed to work your core. We do plenty of push ups, crunches, etc. As well, as planks, supermans and more ways to hurt yourself than I can enumerate here.
I am fully aware that I can simply do these exercises at home and I can work myself pretty hard. However, it is way to easy to skip one session, then another. Next thing I know, I haven't done any push ups or sit ups for a month. (For me, running has been easier to maintain since I find it to be a good midday break and a good stress reliever.) By signing up for a class, I feel more obligated to go (the class has a set time), plus I know I had to pay for the class (I hate to waste money). Also, the instructor works out the exercise routine and helps to provide that extra motivation to push just a little harder. All I have to do is show up. :-)
The schedule for this class has been great. It starts at 6 am on Mondays and Wednesdays. I can usually get to the class, and be home and showered by the time my girls wake up. These are nominally my cross-training days (though I have been doing short runs anyway). I have to confess that sometimes, I can feel drained later in the day from this class. I am hopeful that strengthening my core will benefit my running. I know in the past, I have had races where my non-running muscles (think stabilizing muscles) have actually started to fatigue before my running muscles (gluts, quads, etc). Plus, this leaves Fridays for swimming and weigh training.