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EMBER / Health
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April 29, 2019
Weed Your Workout

TEXT BY: Shawn Wright
PHOTOGRAPHY BY: Sam Kweskin
STYLING BY: Sue Choi

DANIEL RICE
As the founder of Daniel Rice Fitness, personal trainer and nutritional consultant Daniel Rice uses cannabis and CBD, alongside exercise and healthy diet, to boost his clients’ well-being. Follow him on Instagram @danielricefitness

BRANDON ANTHONY
Brandon Anthony created the fitness and movement classes CannabisDANCE, CannabisFIT, and CannabisFLOW Yoga, using cannabis and CBD to bring energy, confidence, and play to exercise. Follow him on Instagram @BrandonAnthonyArt

TARA CURRAN
Tara Curran is a holistic nutritionist who coaches her clients toward balanced, healthy lifestyles, using cannabis products alongside other natural remedies. Follow her on Instagram @taracurran_

The Effects Of Weed On Exercise

Not long ago, if you mentioned marijuana in the same breath as fitness, you’d be met with laughter at best and serious concern at worst. You might have conjured the image of a squint-eyed stoner passed out on the couch, a bag of chips in hand, the dumbbells untouched on the floor. But no more. Today, athletes and wellness experts at the highest levels are using cannabis products to boost their workouts, increase endurance, recover faster, and supplement their diets.

Daniel Rice, a personal trainer and nutritional consultant based in Los Angeles, uses cannabis in various forms to help regulate his mood and prepare for workouts. “If I’m feeling fatigued, or a little depressed or low-energy, I will take the sativa,” he says. “If I feel like my energy’s high, or like I’m anxious, or I can’t calm my mind … I go with the indica.”

Daniel has been in the gym since he was seven, helping his three bodybuilding uncles rack their weights between sets. Growing up in Michigan, his family grew their own marijuana, which they used to make weed butter. Now that cannabis is legal in California and Daniel is of age, he continues the family tradition, using weed butter when cooking healthy treats like black bean brownies or coconut pancakes. In particular, Daniel values CBD for its effects as a vasodilator: opening his blood vessels and arteries, improving blood flow, and reducing pressure on his heart. These are big advantages for his intense powerlifting and bodybuilding workouts. “[CBD] helps with stamina training; it allows me to run longer, to inhale bigger, and so forth,” he says.

Brandon Anthony, a Los Angeles–based dance and fitness instructor originally from Indianapolis, is also high on the benefits of weed for working out. “I wanted to be a part of ending that stigma of laziness,” he says. Brandon came to marijuana as a way to limit his anxiety. “I would smoke a little before I’d go to the gym and my workouts would be so much better,” he says. “I could breathe, I could focus on the movement, it was like all of the insecurities and voices in my head and people around me would slip away.”

Brandon draws on his experience with cannabis and background in theater to teach classes that feature “pre-parties,” where the participants can experiment with smoking cannabis and applying CBD ointments beforehand. “When we’ve all gotten a little high together first and had a moment to connect, all of those inhibitions just go away so much faster,” he says.

In addition to being an exercise aid, cannabis can be an invaluable tool for general wellness. Holistic nutritionist Tara Curran, also based in Los Angeles, recommends CBD to treat a range of problems she sees in her workshops and consultations. “I have a lot of clients who deal with different types of allergies or skin rashes, and using CBD has helped tremendously reduce those symptoms,” she says.

When Tara was 19 years old, her mother was diagnosed with Parkinson’s; the disease is usually hereditary, but her mother’s was caused by environmental factors—chemicals and pollutants encountered in day-to-day life, says Tara. This prompted Tara to study nutrition in school and search out natural remedies. That’s when she discovered CBD. “Especially working with women, how to balance your hormones, and how to manage stress and what stress does in the body is a really big topic,” she says. For Tara, Daniel, Brandon, and a growing community of health and fitness experts, cannabis is a go-to method for managing stress and so much more.

Read on for our experts’ top tips for marijuana-enhanced fitness.

Tips to Improve Your Workouts With Weed

1)         FIND A ROUTINE

One of the best ways to reap the rewards of cannabis, for both exercise and general health, says Tara, is to develop a routine. She prefers CBD oil under the tongue each morning; Brandon likes to smoke before a workout. Understanding your own body—how it reacts to different strains, when and how to best ingest—is an important first step. If you’re just beginning to experiment, says Brandon, “less is always going to be more … Take the smallest, lightest hit your first time.” Be mindful of your reaction and adjust accordingly. Once you’ve chosen your approach, for top results, make it a regular part of your workout schedule.

2)         PREP YOUR BODY AND YOUR MIND

Brandon loves THC for its ability to reduce pre-workout anxiety. He finds this especially true for his group classes in freeform dance, which he admits can be somewhat intimidating. “There’s no choreography,” he says. “People are willing to jump in and stop judging themselves … By the end it feels like we’re all best friends.” It makes the class—or the workout—feel like playtime or therapy, he says. Prior to dancing, Brandon also likes to apply CBD cream to sore spots on his body, which helps loosen those muscles for activity.

3)         INCREASE YOUR FOCUS

“When I’m doing the sativa or indica, my phone is away and I’m hyper-focused,” says Daniel. He will choose a strain based on how he feels that day, and plan his consumption an hour in advance of hitting the gym. This makes his workouts “intense, just so much better, to the point where I don’t even want to stop,” he says. Daniel suggests sativa if you’re feeling fatigued, indica if you’re feeling jittery or anxious. Mastering timing and dosage will also increase your awareness of your body. “It helps me become more mindful,” he says. “You’re fully attending to what’s happening; you’re fully aware of what’s going on,” Daniel recommends tablets such as LEVEL Protabs rather than edibles since the onset of the latter can be harder to predict.

4)         IMPROVE YOUR ENDURANCE

When attempting to hold a difficult yoga pose, Brandon finds himself much more capable after smoking weed. “You can really just be in that pose without worrying about when am I going to get out of it,” he says. The same can be said for pushing through the last few reps on a set of curls or running an extra mile on the treadmill. After smoking, says Brandon, “I could swim like I could never swim before; I was doing cardio classes I had never done before.” Daniel uses CBD Protabs for a similar effect, allowing him to relax and improve his stamina.

5)         MAKE THOSE GAINS

Trying to add some pounds? Let the munchies fuel your quest. For his clients who have trouble gaining weight, or difficulty eating, Daniel will implement cannabis into his dietary guidelines. “Taking CBD or indica or sativa will help with appetite,” he says. “When this happens, prepare your meals.” Having balanced meals prepped in advance will help you avoid unhealthy “munchie” food. THC is cannabis’s most effective appetite stimulant, making THC-based edibles a fun way to stay hungry and make those fitness sessions count.

6)         REVAMP YOUR RECOVERY

Post-workout, CBD may be your new best friend. Tara suggests both ingesting and applying topically. Due to its properties as an anti-inflammatory, CBD relieves sore muscles and quickens recovery time, allowing you to work out more often and avoid injury. Daniel pairs a post-lift bath with nighttime ointments: for the bath, soak in hot water with a mix of CBD salts, essential oils, and Epsom salts; later, before sleep, when your body is preparing to relax, rub a CBD balm where your body feels tight or tired.

7)         KEEP A HOLISTIC APPROACH

CBD does more than simply soothe sore muscles. Tara uses CBD oils and ointments to ease general stress and excess tension in the body, helping her clients stay upbeat and fresh, even when they miss a workout. Comprehensive wellness is Tara’s specialty. She suggests pairing CBD with your favorite supplements, like ashwagandha or Rhodiola. “The combination can be really supportive for overall health benefits like balancing hormones,” she says.

Interested in cannabis and fitness? Check out your local MedMen cannabis dispensary and pick up a copy of EMBER Magazine.

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