As more athletes such as Olympians like Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt continue to defy stereotypes about cannabis users, the fitness industry is looking to cash in.
Power Plant Fitness, the first "cannabis gym" in the U.S., is scheduled to open in May, and it will include training sessions, workout plans, and edibles specifically catered to marijuana users. If you prefer smoking cannabis, there will be separate rooms in the gym to partake.
There have been several studies demonstrating the benefits of incorporating cannabis into your workout routine, but no gym has ever fully embraced exercising while stoned. That's about to change, though.
"There are two main categories the way cannabis helps an athlete," the gym's owner, Jim McAlpine, told ATTN:.
"The first is focus, and that's the one I'm most a fan of. I like to use cannabis before I do sporting events — before I swim, before I ski, before I lift weights. It helps give me that eye-of-the-tiger, in-the-zone feeling and just gets my mind focused and enjoying what I'm doing," McAlpine, a professional athlete and cannabis entrepreneur, added.
"The other aspect of cannabis use for athletes is recovery after working out — whether it's smoking or actually using a topical gel on your sore muscles or your aching joints," he continued. "Those are the two categories that most athletes use in terms of why they use cannabis for a benefit in their athletic lifestyles."
Power Plant gym is one of the latest examples of the intersection of smoking and sports. Companies in legal states across the U.S. have developed cannabis products designed to improve your workout. There are hemp-based protein powders and THC-infused Epsom salts to help bolster your pre and post-workout routine, for example.
It's clear the stereotype of the "lazy stoner" is dying. But can cannabis really improve your work out?
The ingredients in cannabis reduce inflammation, according to a 2009 study published in the journal Future Medicinal Chemistry. That can help stave off muscle fatigue during exercise and alleviate soreness afterward.
ATTN: interviewed former NFL player Eben Britton about his experience using cannabis throughout his career in February. But he's not alone. Numerous professional athletes have come out of the cannabis closet in recent years, testifying to its performance enhancing qualities.
However, the real boost cannabis provides might not be to the body, but your state of mind.
It "takes your mind off the shitty part of [exercising] and your mind goes to having fun with it," McAlpine said.
There are limited peer-reviewed studies on how marijuana affects focus or productivity, but preliminary research based on accounts from those who use the plant to treat attention deficit disorders suggests that, in certain cases, low doses of THC can bolster focus.
That's why McAlpine plans to sell two distinct cannabis edibles at his gym when it opens: the first, a spray that dispenses one milligram of THC per use, is supposed to help people focus during their workout; the second, cannabis oil mixed in agave nectar, contains 30 milligrams of THC per dose, and it's meant to alleviate soreness following your workout.
The jury is still out as to whether cannabis can truly give athletes an edge. But, as far as McAlpine is concerned, his gym can be a powerful counterpoint to anyone who envisions marijuana enthusiasts as lazy couch dwellers.
"I think that really shows in a stronger way than anything else that cannabis can be part of a very successful, athletic, fit lifestyle," he said.