You hoist 20-pound dumbbells like a weight room hero. You speed through sprints with a smile. And you toss, twist and slam med balls with the toughest of crowds. But, do you put as much effort into your workout recovery as you do your strength and endurance?
Taking time to show your muscles some TLC after all that hard work could provide the push you need to not only feel better, but perform better, too. And you don’t have to wait until you’re sore or injured to give your body extra attention. In fact, many fitness studios now make post-workout recovery even easier — and more enjoyable.
Check out the list of classes below that offer foam rolling, compression boots and more to give your muscles the five-star treatment. Plus, learn tips from their trainers about the best ways to soothe soreness and speed up results right at home.
3 Fitness Studios with A-List Recovery Perks
1. Tone House
Instructors encourage attendees of this athletic-focused facility to hop on a foam roller in the recovery lounge pre- and post-HIIT workout. But the real magic happens when you sit down and slip into the NormaTec boots, which use air pulsing and pressure to massage legs ($20 for 30 minutes). The locker rooms also offer cold tub therapy for a quick ice bath to ease aches. And you can sign up for recovery workshops or stay after class for a session with a physical therapist (both offered at select times, sometimes for an additional fee).
The Tone House key to recovery: Make sure to foam roll your quads, hamstrings and glutes — three spots Tone House coach Adrian Williams does both pre- and post-sweat, along with a 20-minute stretch while his muscles are still warm. The glutes are especially important to alleviate tightness in your backside, which can lead to lower back pain, tight hamstrings or poor stability, he says. To loosen them up, sit on a foam roller with one ankle crossed over the opposite knee. Lean toward the bent leg and slowly roll back and forth, pausing for a few seconds on extra tight areas. “Everyone is always looking for new ways to elevate their athleticism. Sleeping, myofascial release and stretching are huge factors in pushing those limits,” Williams says. “Spend just as much time focusing on these key components and you will be able to push yourself to new heights.”
2. Soul Annex
Soul Annex, the sister studio to the renowned indoor cycling class, offers various sweat sessions off the bike and on the mat. And their top recovery option is Le Stretch, which incorporates a lacrosse ball for self-myofascial release. The ball works like a typical foam roller, but gets into deeper tissues and smaller areas. You’ll hit three commonly tight spots in class — hips, shoulders and low back. Everyone from desk workers to workout junkies will benefit from the ah-mazing tension release.
The Soul Annex key to recovery: “The biggest mistake people make when it comes to recovery is not recovering,” says Charlee Atkins, CSCS, Le Stretch creator and instructor and master SoulCycle instructor. An essential body part to focus on, she says, is your hips — but that doesn’t mean rolling out the hip itself. “Our bodies are so brilliantly connected that I recommend going upstream and downstream,” aka moving from the low back to thighs for hips, she says. To get the shoulders loosened up, she also has class goers roll above, below and to the sides of the scapulae (or shoulder blade) as well as the pecs (or chest) muscles.
If there’s one thing every runner needs in their training schedule, it’s regular recovery sessions. That includes foam rolling and, on extra tough days, compression boots. Thankfully, MHRC recently added NormaTec boots ($15 for 15 minutes) to their line-up of services to help pavement pounders get back on the road faster, sans soreness. You can also continue to use their foam rollers before and after stepping on the treadmill to loosen up the fascia or any lactic acid build up.
The Mile High Run Club key to recovery: Before every run, MHRC coach Rich Velazquez rolls out his glutes, IT band and quads. “This loosens the fascia up before the hard work starts and allows greater blood flow to the area, increased mobility at the joints, and greater ‘fire power’ for the muscles,” he says. The body part Velazquez says most people skip rolling, but shouldn’t is the glutes. “The glutes are the largest muscle group we have, and impact the largest joint we have — the hips,” he explains. “If glutes get tight, the body starts to utilizer smaller and weaker muscles to do the same work.” In other words, running efficiency goes downhill. Another note from Velazquez: Don’t wait until something hurts to focus on recovery. “Be proactive, not reactive,” he says.