Stories from Active Recovery

I’m Gabi Butler From ‘Cheer,’ and My Workout Isn’t Over Until I Do This One Thing

Tehrene Firman

Tehrene FirmanFebruary 7, 2020

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Photo: Well+Good Creative

You only need to watch a few minutes of Netflix’s docu-series Cheer to understand how the tough-as-nails squad at Navarro College wins national championships. Everyone’s new life coach Monica Aldama leads a team of cheerleaders that includes Jerry Harris, the motivational mat talk mastermind; the sensational La’Darius Marshall; and Gabi Butler, a longtime cheerlebrity who set off on a path to success at 8 years old. Now 22, Butler proves herself an all-star on and off the mat. She does it all as a flyer and a tumbler—or as her coach likes to say, an “all-rounder”—and she’s a seasoned pro when it comes to post-workout recovery.

Butler’s workout isn’t technically over until she completes a cool-down routine that helps her body heal enough to give it 100 percent again the next day. It all starts with some stretching. “Usually when I’m done working out, I do a little cool-down stretch—I stretch my calves, my Achilles, my knees. It only takes five minutes,” she tells me. Doing a classic standing wall stretch is one of the most effective ways to stretch your calf muscles (especially if you’re jumping a lot!), and you can use a yoga band to safely stretch out your Achilles.

Once she’s done with her stretches, the next part of her post-workout recovery routine involves heading home and running a bath. Depending on how she’s feeling, she has two options to choose from: something relaxing and warm or something refreshing and cold. “Usually I’ll take an Epsom salt bath, because I love the heat—I love anything warm,” she says. Those minerals—particularly magnesium—can help reduce inflammation and combat soreness in your joints and muscles. “I also take ice baths. Even though I absolutely hate them, they really do help a lot.” If you can tolerate the cold, an ice bath can help improve circulation in the body and reduce inflammation. Or, try cryotherapy instead, which experts call a modern-day solution to the ice bath.

With the help of stretching and restorative baths, Butler is ready to bust out all the triple flips and intense partner stunts needed to win.

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