When it comes to fitness, luck and chance aren’t really part of the equation.
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With extended periods of working from home, new social distancing measures for nearly every brick and mortar type, and seemingly little certainty as to when “normal” may return to our daily lives, a new age of fitness is upon us. From a dramatic rise (out of necessity) for virtual workouts, to people taking up running, cycling, powerwalking, and more like never before, we’re all diving headlong into new modalities of staying fit. In fact, in a recent survey, Mindbody found that roughly 33% of people have been exercising more since COVID-19 hit. (Insert “gaining the COVID-19" joke here...)
So, with increased exercise and all this running around, it’s safe to say that we’re also going to be experiencing some chinks in the armor, as it were. Some aches and pains in places we didn’t know existed. A lovely dull sensation here and there. Or a sharp and stabbing assault on a hip flexor... (speaking from very personal experience.)
This is precisely why we are so excited that our friends at RAD Roller have been helping us out. We recently used a few of their products to relieve pressure from sitting all day in our uncomfortable chairs, recover from our first 10-mile run, and align our bodies, so we’re able to work out tomorrow—and the day after, and so on, and so on, and so on...
Here are our experiences live and direct from the Mindbody HQ (AKA: our own homes):
Oh, the pressure of working from home. It’s definitely getting to all of us. Since I started working remotely, I’ve felt more pressure than EVER... in my back and neck.
When I worked in the office, I had a perfectly ergonomic desk setup. But now, I find myself hunched over my laptop on the couch most mornings—and at the end of the day, my neck and back feel it.
Pre-COVID, I had been to some yoga classes that involved roller balls (shout-out MELT at Yoga Branch Studio in North County, San Diego). I remember noticing such a difference in overall pain and tightness from the start of class to the final Savasana, just from rolling some magic little balls on a few points on my body.
So... when I saw RAD Roller’s Point Release Kit, I knew I had to try it. I read the reviews—most notably, one that mentions an ex-girlfriend's cold, dead heart—and was sold even further. I ordered it right away, and it was on my doorstep in days—a beautifully packaged block, three rounds, and a RAD Roller.
My first thought was, “WOW.” And my second thought, “What the hell do I do with this?” I started unfolding large posters with drawings of people using the product. Not gonna lie, I was a little overwhelmed. Don’t get me wrong, these drawings were super informative and easy to follow, but I just didn’t know where to start. So, I did what any sane person would do—I went to the internet.
After one quick Youtube search, I found a whole library of videos on RAD Roller’s channel. Because my goal (for now) was to focus on my back and neck, I chose this one and this one—and it hurt, so good. After following those videos just one time, I already noticed a huge difference in the tightness and mobility of my spine. I started doing these exercises, along with more I found on their channel, nightly to relieve my back pain and loosen up sore muscles after working out.
I cannot tell you how much of a difference this made.
I started incorporating the Point Release Kit into my at-home yoga practice. I typically flow every night before bed to wind down at the end of my day and stretch out my sore muscles. And often, I’ve felt like I needed a little extra help—especially since I’ve been feeling that extra pressure lately.
After just a couple weeks of using this kit in my practice, I already feel so much better. The biggest difference I notice is I’m sitting a lot more comfortably. I knew I was tense, but I didn’t realize just how tense everything was when I was just sitting or lying down. I feel more relaxed overall, settling comfortably into my makeshift WFH couch desk.
Magic little balls to the rescue.
Getting back into in-studio fitness is a hard thing to do post-COVID lockdowns. The classes and studio procedures are unfamiliar, and the workouts are hard. Like most people, I have been doing at-home classes, and it’s not quite the same. It’s easy to skip out on a cardio blast or come out of that plank early because no one is holding you accountable.
After getting back into in-person classes, my body felt really sore (my back and neck, especially, since I wasn’t used to working out this intensely). Enter: RAD Roller. It completely helped my body get back to feeling great again.
The RAD tools designed for the back all have a unique feature in common, the spinal recess. It’s a groove that allows you to avoid contact with the delicate bones of your spine and keep the release where you want it—in the muscles. It comes in all the right intensities, so you can pick the right level for you.
After using the RAD Roller, I did not expect my body to feel so good. I use it almost every day now and cannot live without it.
“Please remember to stretch, Will.” This is my wife after every single run I take. Roughly 50% of the time, I totally adhere to her advice (which I also read now as a plea). I’ve been running for years, but actively take time off when a new modality strikes my fancy—yoga and mountain biking, really.
But when COVID-19 hit, I decided I was going to finally start my training for a marathon. Starting small, I logged 4-5 miles a day with times ranging from 6:45/mi to 7:45/mi depending on my rum intake from the night prior. This blossomed into 8-10 miles/day at the same paces. And THIS quickly resulted in aches, pains, sprains, and tightness in areas I didn’t even know I had.
Luckily, around this time, and with having enough time on my hands to actually care about recovery and making sure I can sustain my running (and not injure myself), I got into rolling. I came back from a quick 10-miler (shut up, Will), to find an All-In Kit waiting for me courtesy of my friends at RAD Roller. TO say I was stoked would be a semi-understatement. Not even waiting for the sweat to dry, I ripped into the kit, grabbed the RAD Rod, and went to town on my quads. “It’s OK to cry, Will...” I kept telling myself.
After a few rounds with the rod, my quads were feeling, well, flushed and refreshed. So I decided to keep going and broke out the various rounds in the All-In Kit. I started with the Green massage ball and, proceeded to dig that bad boy into my hip socket (a recent pain point from my extended runs.) After more tears welled in my already-red eyes (it’s a good hurt, remember), I treated myself to quite literally a little pleasure. See, there’s this little black ball in the kit that, when you rub it in your hands or cheeks in just the right way, feels like what I imagine wellness heaven feels like.
I don’t go a day without using RAD in some way. From bored on Zooms to actually getting down and dirty on the floor, my body is in a constant state of alignment and refreshment.
From hyperextending my glutes while a collegiate athlete to tearing my calf last year in the middle of a workout class, if it’s a weird fitness-related injury that makes hilarious cocktail hour talk, I’ve done it. Suffice to say, I (and my legions of physical therapists) know the value of soft tissue recovery.
My current dilemma is related to my core. I’m a Pilates instructor, and teaching virtually means you work out while talking the whole time, which is extremely taxing on the abdominals. (It’s seriously tough, so thank your favorite instructors for being there for you!) It’s not uncommon for me to hit my weekend rest days with extremely sore abs and obliques. Unsurprisingly, I was stoked to try out the Centre, Rad Roller’s inflatable massage ball designed for the abdomen.
I’m not gonna lie and say my first use was pleasant, since it turned out that my abs needed A LOT of TLC. I started by just doing a few passes over the most tender parts of my core, spending just a few seconds in each spot while wiggling my body to keep the ball in motion. Over a few days, I was able to stay in each spot a bit longer and began exploring other parts of my body that could benefit from a soft-touch release.
The best spot? My wrists, hands, and forearms. I’m a writer by trade, which means they get a lot of abuse from typing, and don’t get a lot of recovery love. The Centre is soft enough that I can passively roll back and forth throughout my workday, and help loosen up some tight spots in my hands. Added bonus? It's a great way to use excess energy during your umpteenth Zoom meeting of the day.
I was not designed for the work-from-home life. My extrovert self misses my team, lunchtime walks, the ability to be in the same room for epic brainstorming, and most of all—our onsite massage therapist, Rob Chang.
At the beginning of shelter-in-place, I wasn’t ready to admit that I could be working from home for a while. I refused to set up a home office and instead hunkered down 8 hours a day at my dimly lit dining room table on a hard wooden chair. The weeks went by, and the work was stressful. I wasn’t prioritizing self-care, and it started to catch up with me. I gradually started to pain in my back where I’ve never felt it before, so much so it felt numb at times. My resistance to adjust to working from home was coming back to bite me—Rob Chang would not approve.
I finally gave in and got myself a desk, some monitors, an ergonomic chair, and even a footstool, but nothing helped to fix the damage I had already done—until I found the RAD Roller. Working with this little wonder after work each day has been a game-changer. A quick roll on my back and shoulders, followed by some pressure point work in the sweet spots is all I need to feel better at the end of a long day at the “office.”
Want to see what the hype's about? Shop online at radroller.com
If you’ve ever taken a hot yoga class, you know it’s always going to be one thing—outrageously hot. Not the “let’s hang by the pool and get that sun-kissed glow” kind of hot either. I’m talking that “I can't believe I have this much sweat in my body” and “I may or may not pass out” kind of hot. It’s nothing to mess around with, and after a year or so of not being able to go, it’s easy to forget just how serious that heat can be.
To get the maximum enjoyment and benefits out of your heated yoga classes, you need to prepare yourself before and take care of yourself afterward. Luckily, I’ve been taking some classes (sweating enough for the both of us) and I’ve listed my five favorite must-dos to help you readjust to your heated classes and get back to the hot yoga summer that we all want.
Heated classes are difficult in nature. The normal difficulty of regular poses is mixed in with the added challenges of sweating and dealing with the humidity and the heat (at times, I’ve seen the thermostat climb to 108 degrees—yikes!). Depending on what type of yoga class you’re taking (sculpt, Bikram, power vinyasa), the difficulty level and temperature are going to vary. It’s also important to remember that each person in the room is going to practice in a way that’s unique to them. Hours slept, hydration levels, food intake, and different lifestyles are all contributing factors that make our practices different. What you practice on your mat is your own––trust your body and only do what feels right to you. And remember, it’s okay to take breaks!
The rise in temperature mixed in with the humidity that we all know and love creates the perfect recipe for sweating—like A LOT. You go into a heated class dry and come out feeling like you just took a dip in the pool. Before heated classes, I had no idea it was physically possible to sweat that much. If you’re going to a heated class, especially after a long break, it’s easy to forget just how much you might sweat. Is it possible to lose that much water if you haven’t consumed it first? Trust me, going into your heated class super hydrated is going to make a world of difference and help you feel good throughout your practice. And don’t forget to take some sips of H2O while you’re practicing!
Heated classes are challenging, but I can’t stop going. Nothing quite compares to overcoming the challenge— and experiencing the cleanse my body feels after I’m done. It’s the perfect blend of hard and rewarding, but I couldn’t do it if my body wasn’t properly nourished. On the days I know I have a heated class booked; I like to make sure I am eating right. I make sure to take my vitamins and fuel my body with fruits, vegetables, and my favorite superfood shake. I hold off on food about an hour before my practice, so I feel comfortable. After the class, I like to replenish with a big protein shake (boosted with collagen to aid with muscle recovery and skin elasticity). There is no one-way path for properly nourishing your body but making sure you’re fueled for the challenge of a heated class is essential for getting the most out of your practice and feeling good on and off your mat.
Increasing and maintaining your water intake on the days you take a heated class is important, but sometimes you need something a little extra. If you’re sweating that much, you’re basically an athlete (at least in my book) and if you’re performing like a rockstar yogi, you need to hydrate like one as well. That means replenishing those lost electrolytes. Reward yourself and your body for the hard work and treat yourself to your favorite drink. I switch off between electrolyte-boosting drinks and coconut water depending on what I’m in the mood for that day. Adding these to my post-practice self-care routine has helped me feel more hydrated after and ready to take on the world again after especially sweaty classes.
Usually, a yoga mat is all you need for your practice––but heated classes are a different ballgame. I’ve gone with just a mat, and I’ve slipped all over the place. Let me tell you, there’s nothing worse than having sweat drip all over the place while you’re trying to hold a pose that makes you grip your mat for dear life (never again). Make sure you bring a towel to place over your mat, this will help with support and grip. Bringing a smaller towel is also a good idea. You can use the smaller towel to dry yourself off during water breaks or whenever you’re feeling just a bit too sweaty. This is a small step that makes a world of difference during those super-hot classes.
So, there you have it. Five of my favorite tips (more like lifesavers) that have helped me readjust to those heated classes I love so much. Getting back into it is a challenge for us all, so know you’re not alone. No matter where you’re at in your practice, remember to be kind and gentle to yourself––celebrating your health and your body’s ability to do what you love. We’re all just getting back out there, together.
Ready to jump back into your hot yoga routine? Browse Mindbody to find the perfect class for you.
While you’re at it, check out some Intro Offers near you that can help you get back to your cadence of hot yoga classes.