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Stretching the boundaries of the CBD craze

With CBD taking the wellness industry by storm, one gym is bringing it to your workout – and it could be the next big thing. Sarah Sinclair reports.



Cannabliss in action

In a green-lit gym studio in London, as house music pulses in the background, office workers stiff from too many hours hunched at their desks lay face up on yoga mats.

Men and women of all ages have hotfooted it from work – and they’re all here for one thing; the CBD oil patch.

London fitness chain Gymbox launched its ‘Cannabliss classes’ in January and its members can’t get enough.

It has been described as ‘CBD yoga’, but don’t be fooled; this is not just for typical yogis.

Cannabliss is aimed at anyone who works out hard, sits down at a desk all day, or both, and, if you’re injured, you’ll reap even more rewards.

According to Gymbox’s marketing manager Rory McEntee, the 45-minute sessions are a cross between a functional training and a holistic retreat class.

They feature a combination of equipment including lacrosse balls, foam rollers, yoga mats and, of course, the CBD patch.

CBD oil does not contain the psychoactive THC element of cannabis associated with the ‘high’.

Focused TLC

At the beginning of each class participants are given the patch to put on their “trigger point”, a part of their body which needs a bit of extra care and attention, such as the lower back or shoulder.

The patches are entirely optional, but instructors are yet to see anyone turn them down.

The patch takes around five to 10 minutes to kick in, so in the meantime attendees begin the first part of the class; 20 minutes of trigger point work on the upper body, using either the ball or foam rollers, followed by lower body stretches.

Then, with everyone comfortably ‘in the zone’, they move onto the final 20 minutes of upper and lower body stretching.

While its name and the artful-looking hazy photos on the gym’s website suggest otherwise, this is not just about unwinding after the nine-to-five.

It’s a recovery-focused class, centred around pain relief.

The deep stretching combined with the CBD patch to help with inflammation, offer “a joint approach to aid recovery”, the company says.

Pain-killing properties

Rory explains: “The class is dedicated to pain relief. It’s for people who are working out constantly, or who might have some tightness from sitting down too much or having a bad posture.

“Ultimately the CBD oil patch helps to reduce pain in problematic areas. All our instructors are highly trained on these features and the benefits of CBD oil, they are there to educate people about it.”

Research shows that CBD has proven health benefits, and can help with a variety of conditions, including joint pain, migraine, psoriasis, acne, anxiety, depression, pain and inflammation. And it’s the latter two that Cannabliss really hones in on.

“You have the anti-inflammatory benefit from the oil patch, which complements the stretching,” says Rory. “Using the lacrosse ball and the foam rollers with the CBD oil really helps to improve your posture and tightness, which can be caused by training or sitting down too much. It opens up your whole body.”

As awareness of its wellbeing benefits grows, in the last two years CBD has emerged as a major global health trend, making its way into the mainstream by way of high street chains such as Holland & Barrett, Boots and The Body Shop.

It can now be found in beauty products, beers, teas and even pet food.

It has even been named one of the fastest growing industries in the UK, with research from the Cannabis Trades Association finding that the number of CBD oil users doubled in 2017 and, at the last count, stood at 250,000.

It was surely only a matter of time before CBD made it into the exercise studio.

Gymbox, a particularly forward-thinking fitness school, has duly obliged. Other classes it provides include ‘extinction training’, which “brutally exposes body and mind to the harsh realities of our future world”.

Gymgoers are urged to: “Experience the scorching heat, restricted air, extreme conditions and lack of water in a programme that makes our need to survive suddenly, terrifyingly real.”

Also on the timetable is the “braingasm holistic retreat” that promises to blow your brain, with the help of repetitive beats and experimental meditation techniques.

“We’re always trying to stay ahead of the curve in terms of putting on innovative and unique, creative classes,” says Rory. “We look for what trends are happening in the industry and we try to put something on that members also want to participate in.”

A movement, not a fad

And it seems they really do want to participate. The five classes, across its five clubs – which were initially put on as a trial – have become so popular they have been kept on the timetable indefinitely, and are regularly booked up advance.

“The response has been brilliant, and no-one has ever turned down the patch. Everyone is trying it and experiencing the class in the way it was intended.

“We’ve seen a huge mix of people coming too. People who may not be interested in a specific yoga class, who are more into lifting weights, have attended and the feedback from them is that it’s really opened their minds to the fact that CBD oil is more acceptable and mainstream now.”

Rory is quick to quieten any suggestion that it could all be a gimmick, with members reporting real improvement in their problem areas.

“Our classes are never put on just for the sake of putting on something different, there are real benefits behind it,” Rory continues.

“The members have felt real benefits in terms of pain relief and inflammation from various areas of the body, which is something that they haven’t got from searching for it themselves. It’s something they would recommend doing more of.”

With others in the fitness industry likely to follow suit, if Cannabliss is anything to go by, CBD at the gym is going to be the next big thing.

“It’s something which is now moving into the mainstream.

“We tend to launch a class, and we’ll see our competitors and other brands following suit a year or so later, so if my experience is anything to go by, I would expect to see this in a lot more gyms and copycat brands trying to replicate what we’re doing.”

By then of course, Gymbox may have found new possibilities for how CBD can enhance our exercising experience.

“We’re looking at new and different ways to evolve it in the future.

“I think it’s going to increase in popularity going forward and, as long as the fitness and wellness industry continues to shed light on the natural sources of remedy and recovery training, which we’re trying to do, there are endless possibilities of the classes that we can take this to.

“We’re going to continue to innovate and come up with new ideas.”

“In terms of where we’re going to take it next? I’d say watch this space.”

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