Each year, fitness fads come and go. Some of them have left us scratching our heads in confusion, while others have real staying power. This year, fitness recovery is on the rise and has taken several new twists that are giving the old sauna and steam room a run for its money.
As perhaps the most health-crazed state, California and its major metropolises have been trendsetters in some popular fitness methods, including Pop Physique and Spinning. Now, they’re leading the way in the fitness recovery realm.
The need for fitness recovery
Health and wellness is booming. Americans are spending more than ever before on fitness and post-workout recovery, contributing a significant portion to the $3.7 trillion valuation of the global wellness industry. That’s not hard to imagine when you consider that more people are regularly paying upwards of $30 per boutique class, rather than the once traditional $30/month at a big box gym.
With a growing focus on pushing the limits with our workouts, fitness recovery has cropped up as the next big trend. Los Angeles is one of the global meccas for looking your best (think Hollywood, Muscle Beach and endless summer weather). And sometimes, that includes freezing yourself or sweating it all out. Here are some of the top fitness recovery fads taking over LA in 2018.
Stepping into a freezing chamber of liquid nitrogen vapor (at -292 degrees) for 3 minutes is not only trendy; it’s also an athlete-approved way of getting the blood flowing faster into your muscles and organs. Born in Japan as a way of reducing joint pain, today cryotherapy is embraced by athletes like LeBron James and Michael Phelps. They’re using it as part of their post-training routines to prevent sore muscles, reduce inflammation and promote faster recovery.
This freezing fad also gives metabolisms a major boost, burning 500-800 calories in just three minutes. The purported benefits are predicted to drive the $2.5 billion industry to $5.6 billion by 2024. One spa recommends engaging in 2-3 sessions a week or, for painful injuries or chronic pain, doing it daily for a week then transitioning to a few times per week.
Is there science to back up the cryotherapy craze? Studies have shown that applying ice to an injury can help relieve pain and reduce swelling, but cryotherapy’s benefits are still up for debate. The National Institute of Sport, Expertise and Performance in France noted that these extreme temps were helpful for all of the above-mentioned benefits. The FDA, however, is more dubious, saying the practice still lacks real evidence.
Hyberbaric oxygen chambers
This technology began as a way to save the lives of divers by getting oxygen quickly to their brains. Now, it’s taking over LA as the latest fitness fad.
Cyclists and athletes including Lance Armstrong have used portable machines for some time to increase the delivery of oxygen to tissues of the body when they are training at high altitudes. But the hyberbaric chamber—used by medical centers to treat things like sudden deafness, anemia, brain abscess, burns, decompression sickness, skin or infection and chronic wounds—is spreading as the latest way to aid your fitness recovery.
Breathing pure oxygen in a heavily pressurized room enables the red blood cells to carry more oxygen to the tissues. Spending some time in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber can also decrease swelling and inflammation to help injured tissues regenerate and the bodyrecoversr faster.
Stretching is a vital part of good health. Beyond the obligatory morning yawn and stretch, these movements keep muscles healthy, strong, long and lean. Research suggests that stretching before a workout can minimize the risk of injury and prevent muscle strains. More people than ever are discovering the benefits of this long-touted exercise, thanks in part to a mini stretching revolution going on in LA and beyond.
According to fitness class scheduling app Mindbody, stretching-related classes have doubled around the nation over the last two years. But now, you can also pay a “flexologist” to pull and push your body into a number of stretches to rejuvenate you post-workout or prep you for a sweat session. So is it worth it? Devotees would certainly say so, citing improved athletic performance and less pain. Practitioner-assisted stretching isolates particular muscles and stretches them in the proper way.
Recovery is vital to a healthy fitness routine. Whether or not these trends have the scientific evidence to back their benefits is yet to be seen. But in the meantime, anecdotal evidence—and a growing number of devotees—suggest that stretching, cryotherapy and oxygen treatments are at least making a lot of people feel good after intense physical activity.