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Early one morning, of this year, I was walking on one of the treadmills at my buildings gym in San Diego. This was how I started most of my days. Along with that routine was watching Netflix on my phone, listening to music and best of all, looking through Instagram.
One day a news story appeared on the top of my home page. It was my cousin Anastasia in Australia. The last time I saw her was during my visit to Sydney in 2015. She was 17 then and excited to be on her way to Italy. Aside from that, we kept in touch on Instagram and she, for the most part, just posted photos of her and her boyfriend in her cute Burberry trench coats and designer dresses. But she hadn’t posted in a while. Anyway, Anastasia was always in good shape, but she was soft and supple. Not at all an athlete.
Imagine my surprise when I clicked on her story and the spitting image of a personal trainer appeared. Anastasia was built like a gymnast! She was muscular with such defined arms, shoulders and legs. She looked like the epitome of strength, she appeared unbreakable. It was really quite intimidating.
I clicked through each story, my eyes growing wider with curiosity as the pages turned. In one story, she cycled through burpees with sit-ups, jump roping and other things I had never seen before. In another story she ran to a wall, and from a crouched position, thrusted a medicine ball upward and threw it against a wall for it to bounce back to her. Her mission was readily apparent: it was to go to the edge of her endurance and hold it there for however long possible. Between sets of exercises there were no breaks or intervals. Her face in each story was beet red and she was breathing heavily.
After my work out I direct messaged my cousin immediately and asked her just what it was she was doing and why? “CrossFit” she replied, without elaborating. It was as if I was supposed to know what CrossFit was. I still couldn’t comprehend why anyone would train the way she was training. It looked like suicide. My first instinct was to google CrossFit. My search results were the keyhole through which I first caught a glimpse of what appeared to be some kind of society of well to do fitness addicts. The men and women were all strapping and sinewy with six and eight packs, doing handstand push-ups, jumping onto tall platforms and hoisting large weights above themselves. They were also climbing ropes and using gymnastic rings. It was quite the spectacle.
I couldn’t help but wonder, “What did self-care mean for a work-out such as this”? That is one important aspect of CrossFit that we will delve into with this article. That aspect is very important to one’s well-being and that aspect is recovery. Athletes who neglect their recovery will gain very little from their workouts. They will risk injury from overtraining as well as burn out. According to my cousin these are the best ways to ensure full recovery after an intense CrossFit workout. Her words have merit because this is information from her Personal Trainer over at F45 Training Prestons in New South Wales.
Hydrate! Hydrate! Hydrate!
We cannot emphasize this enough. After a workout that involves a lot of sweating it is important to replace lost water and other nutrients. It is recommended to consume 20 ounces of liquid for every 45-60 minutes of intense exercise. After 90 minutes of exercise, sugar and electrolytes are needed. A general rule is to replace liquids at a rate of one pint of fluids for every pound lost. We recommend sports drinks, fresh fruit like watermelon and oranges to replace sugar and electrolytes and water with electrolytes such as Glaceau electrolyte enhanced SmartWater and Core perfect pH water.
Stretch It Out!
There are different arguments centered around stretching. Should you do it? Is it a waste of time? There is considerable research that shows that stretching is not necessary but it is greatly outweighed by the research that cites the benefits of stretching. Skipping a post work out stretch will do your body more harm than good. When you work out lactic acid builds up in your muscles causing fatigue and soreness. Stretching reduces muscle fatigue and increases circulation. Stretching also opens up your range of motion and increases flexibility; not stretching drastically reduces mobility in the joints and muscles, which increases your risk for injury.
Functional and Good-looking Compression Wear
The use of good-looking compression wear, such as shirts, shorts, tights, and compression socks, has been in vogue for some time now and is preferred by many athletes and sports enthusiasts for many reasons. Good-looking compression wear is a notch above good-looking workout clothes. However, not only is good-looking compression wear fashionable, it is designed to fit tightly to the body to help maintain body temperature and channel blood flow. This in turn helps athletes avoid conditions like venous thrombosis, particularly when wearing compression socks. Compression wear encompasses more than physical attributes. Studies have shown that compression wear is a reflection of it’s durability and reliability. Compression wear is found to enhance the performance of athletes in various sports. Most important of all, compression wear is found to help athletes recover faster when wearing the garments during work-outs. You can wear compression wear after a workout if you choose, such as compression socks which is recommended for even after you work. While wearing compression wear, athletes were found to suffer less muscle damage, making them less susceptible to injuries. Good-looking compression wear provided maximum protection for the athlete, presented in a very easy, sexy way.
Soak It Up
One amazing thing you can do for yourself after an intense CrossFit workout is to draw yourself a really warm, borderline hot bath. The hotter the water that you can handle, the better for softening up your muscles and reducing the likelihood of aches, cramps and any soreness. Temperature plays a big role in helping mitigate some of the pain involved after a work out. You’ll find that the warm bath will not only be soothing and relaxing but will do wonders for your body. It is recommended you put some bath salts in the bath too, preferably Epsom salt. There is something about the salts in the water help release muscle tension, soothe inflammation and ease pain as well as restore electrolyte levels on a cellular level which may not sound very helpful but it is.
Take Some Supplements
It should come as no surprise and a relief that there are supplements you can take, post work out that will make you feel golden the next day even after you’ve worked out strenuously as most do in CrossFit. Besides taking your basic vitamins such as Vitamin B, Vitamin C or maybe even a multi vitamin there are other supplements you should consider. For example Fish Oil supplements are said to modulate inflammation and accelerate recovery.
After a workout like CrossFit it is an excellent idea to replenish your system by nourishing your body with good ingredients. Some suggestions have been any one of the many protein shakes out there, such as one’s made of almond butter, nuts, soymilk as a base with a variation of different fruits, such as blueberries, strawberries, and bananas. A cold-pressed juice partnered with a salad and turkey is a very nourishing post work-out meal. Combined with a supplement you’re sure to be able to work out even the next day provided you do the next step! Oh yes and remember to eat immediately after your workout. The latest you can go is 45 minutes.
For no less than 8 hours. Your body repairs itself, heals itself the most during sleep. Sleep is vital part of your recovery and it’s important you don’t deprive yourself. Time everything in advance so you can have that luxury of 8 hours. While it is a luxury, you do owe it to yourself after you participate in something as intense as CrossFit. Not having enough time to sleep because you have work early in the a.m. is no excuse. If you can’t find the time to rest, then don’t work out. You lose your gains if you don’t get enough rest just as alternatively you lose your gains if you get too much rest. The loss is far greater if you don’t rest, you fail to give your body that necessary R&R it needs for building the muscle and tone that you so heavily desire.
From my research I’ve found that CrossFit can be defined in many ways. One, it is a paradigm shifting fitness revolution. Don’t believe me? Check out #CrossFit, #CrossFitGirls, and #CrossFitMotivation to see for yourself. Second, it is a fitness approach that serves up workouts that, if performed as prescribed, may kill you! Just kidding (that was my cousins definition, not mine)! To put it simply, CrossFit is a high-intensity exercise program known to achieve stunning results in a short amount of time. You combine diet, exercise and support in such a way that it’s drastically improving lives, even saving them (i.e. via significant weight loss and dramatic reduction in diabetes symptoms). When following the steps, in tandem with the workouts, endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, coordination, balance, agility, accuracy, power and speed become yours.
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