Even trainers at peak performance levels (the ones you turn to for major fitspo on Instagram) don’t go hard all the time. They know that taking time to practice self-care by resting and recharging — whether that’s meditating for five minutes in the a.m. or indulging in a glass of wine at dinner — is an important part of the health equation, too.
Giving yourself recovery time allows both your body and your mind a chance to bounce back from your workout and get a better grip on everyday stressors. Research has found that massage, for instance, helps your muscles recover after endurance exercise by reducing pain and fatigue. (Older preliminary studies show massage therapy can also relieve stress.) And people who combined aerobic workouts with meditation significantly improved their mood and reduced their anxiety, according to another recent study.
So how do top trainers get a little R&R in their own lives? We asked eight pros to reveal their favorite ways to practice self-care. Follow their lead to show yourself some love, too.
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8 Trainers’ Favorite Ways to Practice Self-Care
1. Dance, Dance, Meditation
“I look at my body as a machine, and machines take some serious TLC in order to run their best. I have a weekly self-care regimen that includes a deep-tissue massage, a cryotherapy session and a dance lesson. The massage and cryotherapy are my way of saying ‘thank you’ to my body for all the hard work it did for me that week, and the dance lesson is my version of meditation. It may sound odd, but dance is one of the few moments in my week that I am so focused on learning new ways to move that everything else in my world seems to fade away.” —Kaisa Keranen, movement coach based in Seattle.
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2. Starting with Gratitude
“Mornings are my thing. I wake up a bit earlier than I need to and the first word I see when I wake up is gratitude. I really want to appreciate every moment in life. So I take time first thing in the a.m. to slow down before the rest of the world catches up to me.
I generally take a yoga class to help balance out the higher intensity workouts I do, too. And I swim from time to time. There’s something about controlling my breath that really helps. Plus, knowing no one can distract me in the water, I can get kind of lost. I also like to go outside (weather permitting), and take a mental health walk or sit on the rooftop somewhere and just reflect. Finally, I love a good coffee table book. Life’s Little Instruction Book is on mine and when I need a moment to remind myself of the little things I open it up and read a couple of them.” —CeCe Marizu, Daily Burn 365 trainer
3. Times of Knead
“With a full-time job as a trainer, plus a full-time job as mother of four, taking care of myself is crucial to my overall health — and sanity! As I always tell other moms and clients, you must be ‘beneficially selfish.’ In other words, be selfish for the benefit of other people. If you can’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of anybody else. My self-care ritual is a routine 90-minute deep-tissue massage at least once a month. That means no kids, no to-dos, no phone, no talking. Just me and my own thoughts. (I get so lost in my thoughts that I often forget the massage therapist is even there!) Sixty minutes isn’t enough time; two hours is too long with kids. Ninety is just right, and I emerge feeling like a new woman, ready to tackle the world!” — Heidi Powell, celebrity trainer, transformation specialist and coauthor of Extreme Transformation: Lifelong Weight Loss in 21 Days
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4. Three’s a Charm
“Taking time for yourself is actually one of the least selfish things you can do. I always find when I invest the time to take care of myself, I am a better person for everyone else. In terms of pampering myself…I’m all about the 3 S’s: shopping, supplements and skincare. I have to have the freshest Nike gear, always make sure to take my daily BCAA and grass-fed whey protein supplements from Eat The Bear, and keep my skin smooth with Nubian Heritage organic lotions. Those three things keep me feeling fresh as hell so I can put in all the hard work necessary to leave my mark on NYC.
If I ever find myself needing more to recharge, I turn to tequila, acupuncture and cupping at The Drodge clinic. Or for an emotional recharge, I hit up my mother — just like any nice Jewish boy with a half-sleeve of tattoos, an affinity for rap music and punching things would do.” —Noah Neiman, co-founder and trainer at Rumble Boxing
5. Best Foot Forward
“How do I recover mentally, physically and spiritually from the intense training and coaching at Tone House? There are a few simple things I do every day. Along with weight training, every day I spend 45 minutes in NormaTec [compression boots used to improve blood flow and speed recovery]. I’m on my feet all day, so these boots provide the perfect opportunity to stimulate blood circulation and bring down any inflammation in my legs. I also nap during this time! And I like to do one to two hours of Brazilian Jujitsu or Muay Thai. Martial arts help me clear my head and focus on me.” —Shaun Jenkins, training manager at Tone House in New York City
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6. Home Stretch
“Meditating for 10 to 20 minutes each morning helps me stay centered and focused. For my body, I use Jill Miller’s Yoga Tune-Up balls to keep my muscles pliable — they’re like a surgeon’s scalpel for your soft tissue. I also stretch throughout the day for about five minutes at a time. I’m a big fan of incorporating mobility work in short pockets throughout the day, rather than trying to take on a single hour-long effort. I also make it a priority to connect with my friends and family every day. I like to spend as much time with them as possible, ideally cooking a big meal and enjoying it with a few glasses of wine while we laugh our asses off.” —Adam Rosante, strength and nutrition coach and creator of Two Week Transformation
7. Knot at All
“Working out definitely relaxes me and is a form of self-care, but my true relaxation comes when I go for a massage. I try to get one weekly and usually opt for deep-tissue. It’s an hour completely to myself when I can unwind, and it just feels so good!” —Cassey Ho, founder of Blogilates and Pop Pilates
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8. Finally Say “Ah”
“I go to a yoga studio that does alignment-based classes, and I have a yoga mat in a beautiful shade of blue that calms me. As soon as I step on that mat, it’s my time. I actually need this at least once a week to feel really great. Also, I love baths. I make the water as hot as I can take it, use sea salt like Ahava’s Dead Sea Bath Salts, add 10 to 12 drops of lavender essential oil and light a candle. Then I soak for at least 20 minutes. Usually after that I head directly to bed which leads me to my next must-do: sleep!
I am not a napper, so I go to bed at 10 p.m. at the latest. And I do not play when it comes to sleep. I’m ready for anything with earplugs, a pillow to put between my legs (great for the lower back when you sleep on your side like I do), even aromatherapy if I’m especially stressed. Most importantly, and yet hardest to keep up with: meditation. I try for twice a day for 20 minutes each time, but usually it’s only once. I practice primordial sound meditation, which uses an assigned mantra based on the date and time of your birth. You can get yours for free here. Don’t tell anyone your mantra — it’s a secret!” —Erika Shannon, Daily Burn 365 trainer