Working out and marijuana might seem like an odd combination, given the popular stereotype of pot enthusiasts being slackers.
However, ever since reports of a “cannabis gym” opening up in San Francisco, California, late this year came out, there has been a considerable buzz on how exactly the gym will combine the two to complement each other.
Power Plant Fitness will allow members to consume cannabis before or after their workouts, and it intends to use marijuana as one of its many supplements to attain and maintain the “symbiotic state of wellness.”
“This philosophy of using cannabis for optimal states of wellness and peak performance is not new, however it has been hidden from the general public,” the gym stated on its website.
The owner, Jim McAlpine, has teamed up with Heisman Memorial Trophy winner and former National Football League running back Ricky Williams to open the marijuana gym. The Heisman Memorial Trophy recognizes the most outstanding college football player whose “performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity,” according to the website.
Since using marijuana in public space is banned, the gym will have a designated space for those consuming the “supplement.”
Once clients drop in at the gym, they can either consume their own cannabis they have brought or order edibles, the gym’s preferred form of marijuana consumption. There will be a delivery service which will bring the ordered edibles to the health facility within 15 minutes of the order being placed, McAlpine told USA Today in March.
However, many have been left wondering if the workout sessions will be a serious affair in such an environment.
“It won’t be a place to get high and just screw around,” McAlpine wrote in a blog on the company’s website. “We are focused on the athletic side, not the cannabis side.”
While not much research has been done on the link between marijuana use and athletic performance, some athletes said it improved their workout sessions.
Elite triathlete Clifford Drusinsky, who usually wakes up at 3 a.m. to train, consumes 20 milligrams of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) — chemical compound in cannabis responsible for the euphoric high — everyday in a marijuana energy bar before training.
Drusinsky told Men’s Journal in 2014: “Marijuana relaxes me and allows me to go into a controlled, meditational place. When I get high, I train smarter and focus on form.”
For some, consuming cannabis makes them enjoy the workout sessions more. Colorado-based ultrarunner Avery Collins said neither cannabis gave him a competitive advantage nor did he take them during races, but it made his practice sessions more enjoyable. It also helped calm his muscles when he was not running.
“[Cannabis] helps me live right in the moment. It makes things very spiritual. You don’t think about anything except the run itself,” Collins told the online magazine Motherboard.
“I use it as a way to intensify and enhance the run. It makes the longevity of the runner’s high last longer because technically you’re already high,” Collins added.
Other than enhancing his performance, Collins said he ate edibles or vaporised weed everyday to help his body cope up with the grueling running regime.
“I’d be lying if I said [cannabis] doesn’t help sooth my muscles,” he said.
Founder of Lifetree Pain Clinic in Salt Lake City, Lynn Webster, suggested marijuana use could block pain and reduce nausea during workouts, news.com.au reported.
THC is stored in fat in human bodies; a 2013 study showed this storage process can give exercisers an extra boost, even up to 28 days after consumption.
Experts said marijuana also reduced pre-workout anxiety, one of the aspects that stops many from realizing our full physical potential.
In an interview with Outside Magazine, Stanford Medical School professor Keith Humphreys said: “We have cannabinoid receptors throughout our brains, and when the THC hits those receptors, it triggers a system that reduces anxiety.”
“That you would feel more aggressive is a natural reaction to the drug,” he added.
However, some other experts believe that marijuana and workout cannot go hand in hand. Dr. Scott Krakower, assistant unit chief of psychiatry at Zucker Hillside Hospital in New York, said cannabis-influenced workouts can be dangerous, USA Today reported.
“I worry that the philosophy of the country is going towards health, happiness, smoke weed,” Krakower said. “You are glorifying weed and saying it’s this agent that’s going to cure everything. I don’t think that’s going to be the case.”
Krakower added the message can be negative for children and young adults.
Dr. Marc J. Romano, director of medical services at Delphi Behavioral Health in Florida, pointed out that cannabis does give athletes an advantage by decreasing anxiety, allowing them to perform better under pressure. However, it could also impair their ability to lift weights and operate gym equipment, the report said.