Jim McAlpine likes to use cannabis before a workout. He always has. When he was a teenager, toking up before practice, he thought he was “just a stoner” but by the time he was 18, McAlpine realized his workouts were better if he hit the gym stoned. Finding just the right dosage deeply accentuated his focus, he started referring to cannabis as his supplement.
In contrast to McAlpine, Wendy Crittenden, an artist in the San Francisco Bay Area, only recently discovered the fitness benefits of cannabis. Tired of the crippling allergies she always experienced outdoors Crittenden decided to take the addition of edibles out for a test run. She ingested a small dosage before a San Francisco 5k and had one of the best races of her life.
Thrilled with the result she has since cultivated a fool-proof routine, allowing her to stay active without requiring days to recover.
“I hate popping Advil,” Crittenden said. “Now that I am using cannabis edibles, balms and bath salts I can workout and continue with my day without being dependent on pills. There is such a stigma against marijuana, people assume that since I use cannabis I’m just stoned all the time but that isn’t what’s happening. Before, my head was so inflamed from allergies I couldn’t function. Now cannabis has taken that away. I can be a fully productive person again.”
McAlpine has also spent time concerned with how others view his cannabis use. Ever since teenage days of pumping iron in his parents garage he has dreamed of a future where athletes could openly reap cannabis’ benefits without the stigma.
Despite these dreams, after college he pursued corporate careers he considered more reputable. A successful entrepreneur he built the athletic brand snowbomb.com and executed lifestyle events for active Californians. After work he’d hang with other fitness minded executives who would openly unwind by slamming drinks. Meanwhile, McAlpine decided it was best to keep his own means of unwinding under wraps.
When the drought hit causing snowbomb.com’s business to drop, McAlpine realized it was time to “come out of the closet” and approach his appreciation for cannabis with pride. Always the thoughtful entrepreneur he knew if he was going to capitalize on the growing cannabis market it would be best to stick within his scope of practice. He combined his expertise in event planning and sports and put together the now hugely successful 420 Games.
Through the games McAlpine met former NFL player Ricky Williams. McAlpine then asked the football star if he would be interested in helping him finally turn his dreams into reality and open the world’s first cannabis friendly gym and within three minutes Williams was sold.
“He cracked the biggest smile and said ‘dude I’m honored you asked me and I would love to get involved,” McAlpine said.
Today the team is in the final stages of preparation, set to open Power Plant Fitness (PPF) in the Mission this winter. And while cannabis will hold no stigma inside this gym, McAlpine thinks it is important to note that marijuana is not every man’s supplement. The key, he explained, is it affects everyone differently. He stressed “PPF is about fitness first and cannabis is just one of the supplemental options.”
All new members will be required to undergo a Cannabis Performance Assessment to find out if they should be utilizing the plant during workouts.
“We are focused on performance, not getting high and f*king around,” McAlpine said.
However, even athletes who find it’s best to abstain from cannabis during their workouts can enjoy the plant at PPF. General Manager and retired MMA fighter, Kyle Kingsbury explained one of his goals is to get the average joe into the gym as often as experienced athletes, leading to an overall healthier lifestyle.
“We want to get people coming in everyday weather or not they are working out,” Kingsbury said.
The gym which will offer many modalities for recovery believes cannabis can be an excellent addition to spa treatments.
“Cannabis is a fabulous tool to help quiet the mind and relax,” Kingsbury said.
Beyond the spa and the fitness floor, Seibo Shen, a recreational ji jitsu fighter and CEO of VapeXhale and Cannathlete will be offering the healthiest means of cannabis consumption to athletes. Shen is masterminding healthy products for PPF members to purchase onsite, providing them with just the right dosage of cannabis sans concern of excess smoke and sugar.
Shen explained that cannabis encourages a state of homeostasis so beyond getting the dosage, right athletes at PPF will work with trainers before workouts on breathing, settling into the optimal state for both consumption and exercise.
“Since I’ve started implementing these practices into my own workouts my rate of injury has exponentially decreased,” Shen said.
While cannabis can be a great way for the masses to improve their athletic experiences for professional athletes acceptance of cannabis is more dire. Recreations like the NFL are at a tipping point, realizing that they must find sustainable alternatives to opiates to treat their athletes.
Michael Cindrich is a defense attorney and co-founder of Gridiron Cannabis Coalition (GCC), an organization which works to fund research and educate professional sports teams on the the importance of providing an organic treatment option to their athletes.
Cindrich, whose father played in the NFL, grew up exposed to many catastrophic sports injuries and was no stranger to the fact that there is an extreme lack of holistic alternatives to the multitude of opiates that many players become dependent upon due to the constant battering their bodies endure. He joined forces with passionate retired athletes and formed GCC as a means of providing adequate education and representation to players.
“I wanted to help get rid of the stigma behind using healthy and beneficial treatments for their bodies. Historically prescription drugs are counterproductive and create side effects that lead to addiction.
Cindrich continued, “Instead of just putting a band-aid on the problem, cannabis can provide a natural treatment and protection from traumatic brain injuries.”
Cindrich is thrilled with the attention GCC has brought to this issue and the empowerment it is providing athletes.
“We’ve created a movement in the NFL and athletes,” he said. “By setting a platform where players can be honest about their use and its benefits we have opened many people’s eyes to the benefits of this medicine.”
Presently GCC is working on raising money to fund a foundation for retired players to detox from the multitude of opiates they have become dependent on. They have also raised enough money to fund an upcoming study where 30 NFL players will ingest varying levels of cannabis under medical supervision.
“We have a long way to go to change NFL perception but we’ve made a solid start,” Cindrich said. “I am very hopeful through our research cannabis will become accepted as medicine and treatment for athletes.”
Across the board fitness enthusiasts and pros seem to agree, it is time to erase the stigma behind marijuana and give athletes a voice. With the aid of people like Cindrich, the team at PPF and fit cannabis users like Crittenden can finally venture out of the closet and congregate in a designated space to workout with pride.
“We are gathering people who have a common bond for the love of the plant,” Shen said. “We hope to leverage this ideology beyond cannabis, allowing our members to lower stress and lead more fulfilling lives.”
Do you use cannabis in your workouts?