What’s the first thing you do after a big workout? I usually exercise in the morning on an empty stomach so my first priority is breakfast. I love a big bowl of oatmeal and a cup of Earl Grey. After a weekend sweat session, I upgrade to avocado, wholegrain toast and beans. Better yet, I’ll go to one of my favourite cafes and have a long, leisurely brunch. A shower is second on the list.
While I absolutely believe in refuelling after exercise, I’m trying to broaden my post-workout rewards beyond breakfast. Don’t get me wrong – I’ll run 10K for a bagel and demolish an Acai bowl after BodyAttack. But I wanted to find more ways to nourish my body, without in turn hurting my wallet.
Here’s what I’ve discovered:
1. Treat Your Feet
Taking your sneakers off after a workout is a great feeling. Looking at your feet may not be so great. Every few weeks, I’ll soak my feet for an hour while I work on my blog or read a magazine. It helps relieve tension, soothes dry skin and best of all, it’s relaxing! My favourite product is The Body Shop’s Peppermint Foot Fizzies*, which is made from effervescent salts and has a gorgeous cooling effect.
Here are some other ideas, depending on your budget:
- Save: Soak your feet in hot water. Add epsom salts, essential oils or a bath bomb.
- Spend: Sephora’s Foot Masque ($6) comes in single-use socks you wear for 20 minutes. The Almond (Comforting & Repairing) formula is softening and has a nice, nutty smell.
- Splurge: My favourite treat for my feet – get a pedicure!
*Unfortunately when researching this post, I discovered The Body Shop has discontinued its Foot Fizzies. They were $2.95 for a two-pack, so I used to buy in bulk.
2. Hit the Beach
Whether you’re covered in sweat or want a relaxing afternoon, hitting the beach is always a treat. I live 10 kilometres from the coast and conveniently, that’s my current running distance. The route has some serious hills but I’m re-energised when I get my first glimpse of the ocean. A post-workout swim is super refreshing, but you could also cool down with a barefoot stroll in the sand. If you’ve been at the gym, why not grab a towel and stretch by the beach on the way home?
Best of all, the beach doesn’t cost a thing (except maybe parking).
3. restorative/yin yoga
Taking a yoga class might sound like more exercise but hear me out. I used to treat yoga like a workout, pushing my body to the limits to try build strength and burn as many calories as I could. But then, guided by various teachers, I realised yoga was a chance to listen to my body. What’s tight? Where are the aches? How can I release that tension?
Changing my approach from cardio to kindness helped me identify problem areas and most of all, learn to slow down. I do an hour class straight after my workouts a few times a week. It really helps with recovery and feels like a luxury in today’s busy world. Read my post on Your First Yoga Class if you need.
- Save: Do yoga at home. My favourite app is Pocket Yoga, where you can choose from three styles and 30, 45 or 60 minute sessions.
- Spend: Head to a dedicated yoga studio. I love MindBody to search and book nearby classes.
- Splurge: Go to a yoga workshop or a weekend retreat.
4. Coconut water
Technically this is a drink, not food, so I’m putting it on the list. Coconut water is my favourite way to hydrate after a long run and perhaps because it’s so lusciously tropical, it totally feels like a treat. Bonus: a 250ml (8.5 oz.) carton only has around 60 calories!
- Save: Grab a one litre carton from the supermarket ($4-6) and enjoy all week.
- Splurge: Buy a fresh coconut from the supermarket or Asian grocery store. Put in a fancy straw and savour the electrolytes.
This is my ultimate post-workout reward. I recently had a massage booked for a Thursday night and all week, I trained SO hard. It felt amazing! But you don’t need a masseuse or lots of cash to enjoy a massage. A good friend or partner and essential oils will do the trick. Other ideas include:
- Save: Give yourself a massage. Try Lush Cosmetics Wiccy Magic Muscles ($14.95) which heats up the area you apply it to.
- Spend: Get a remedial or sports massage. If you have private health cover, you may be able to claim a rebate. I got a 30 minute massage this week and only paid $10.
- Splurge: Hit a day spa. If you’re in Perth, I’ve had excellent massages at Keturah Day Spa (multiple locations) and Crown Spa (Burswood).
6. fresh flowers
This won’t directly benefit your aching quads or hamstrings. But occasionally I go to a gym which is close to several florists. I love buying a fresh bunch of flowers on the way home! Maybe you prefer magazines, visiting a farmer’s market or heading to a craft store. Pick up something after your workout that will make you smile later in the week.
It’s a sad reflection of modern life, but sleep and rest are a precious commodity. After five days of alarms going off to hit the gym at dawn, knowing I can sleep in the next day is one of the best rewards I can get.
QUESTION: What’s your favourite post-workout reward?