Remember when the word “recovery” made you think of athletes nursing an injury on the bench? Yeah, me too—but only barely. Because recently, recovery’s been on the tip of workout enthusiasts’ tongues. In tandem with stretching and cool downs—entire studios and sections of the big box gyms are now dedicated to helping us to reap the benefits of a workout, while also getting us back on our feet. So move over, arm day, take it easy leg day…recovery day is here for your job.
In Well+Good’s reveal of our 2019 wellness trends, we looked into our crystal ball, and predicted that cortisol-conscious workouts—ones that prioritize lower-impact fitness with an eye on keeping your body from becoming too stressed out—would become the norm. They have, and now fitness tech has become laser-targeted towards recovery, too. Here’s what’s up with that.
What’s been going on in the world of fitness technology
If you think about it, fitness tech used to be a very different landscape that aimed to push you farther, make you work harder, and train you smarter than ever before. “I would say that when the Nike Fuelband came out in 2012, it really brought on a sensor movement,” says Anthony Katz, founder of Hyperice. “Everyone was trying to put a sensor in everything, like wearables that tracked steps or heart rate or things like that.”
As the trackability of fitness went mainstream, every gym or studio sesh became the opportunity to train like a pro-level athlete, with stats and figures to back up your effort (looking at you, Orangetheory splat points). And with great effort, also came the need for great recovery. Fitness-focused technology companies—like Theragun, Hyperice, PowerDot, and NormaTec, for instance—saw the impact that their devices had at the pro level, and they began considering how everyday gym heroes could benefit, as well. “Now, the same product that’s available in pro training rooms is also available to everyday fitness enthusiasts or people who are health-minded,” says Katz. “The playing field has been leveled, and [recovery gadgets] are now more available than ever before.”
Often, you can even find these at retailers where everyday consumers are looking for popcorn and house plants: Walmart, for instance now sells the more cost-effective Theragun Liv ($299). “As these tools become commonplace, it trickles down and more people get exposed,” says Gilad Jacobs, CEO of NormaTec. “So at first, the pros said this was their secret weapon. That morphed from secret weapon to, ‘I’m literally not going to be on a level playing field if I’m not doing this.’ Now, it’s just standard—people are focusing on nutrition, on fitness, and on recovery.” And not just as a response to injury or muscle aches…proactive recovery these days is the hot ticket.
The unstoppable rise of recovery tech
Strut down a New York City side street seven years ago, and it wouldn’t be uncommon to find a boutique studio offering up fitness classes on the hour. But, it might have given you pause to find one dedicated to simply stretching. Today, these shops—like Stretch*d in New York and Stretch Lab in Los Angeles—are rising. “I think we’re just scratching the surface of recovery tech,” says Katz. “I think you’ll go into every health club in this country and there will be a recovery mobility room where you have products that physically focus on this. It will become part of the warm-up and recovery, and the day-to-day body maintenance that people go through. Because if you want to be a healthy person, recovery’s just as important as working out and training.”
After all, fitness might be about getting stronger, but recovery is about moving better and ensuring that you can perform at a high level the next day. “Fitness is based on the law of consistency—your ability to train hard consistently several days a week includes some kind of recovery, proper nutrition, and a connection with the body,” says Jason Wersland, DC, founder of Theragun.
As for what’s next? Don’t be surprised if recovery technology takes a note from its step-tracking big sis. “Connectivity is going to be important,” shares Jacobs, adding that fitness devices are going to sync with your phone, which will inevitably lead to sharable content. “There’ll be lots of sharing and continued interpretation of recovery.” So as you get more detailed data on how your body’s functioning, you can reap all the benefits of your workout for the sake of your health. And when it comes right now to it, that’s why these devices and the recovery movement itself, is so important. In the go-go-get it-get it world we live in, it can be refreshing to be reminded that slowing down isn’t just nice everyone once in a while, it’s foundational to getting stronger for what’s to come.
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