Stretching Active Recovery

What is active recovery? Simply put, it’s an intentional action that we take to promote healthy repair to our body. This could be a few minutes spent foam rolling, going on a short recovery run, or taking a yoga class. As a rule active recovery should be low intensity at low volume and should mitigate rather than aggravate stress. Think warm up and cool down without the intense workout in between. In other words, your body shouldn’t feel taxed.

Throughout the week we push the limits of our bodies through repetitive movements that are designed to break down muscle and send signals to our brains that trigger adaptation. Whether our reasons are performance based or aesthetic, this is why we exercise.

Stretching Active Recovery

What many fail to remember is that in order to adapt, the body needs time to repair. The muscles and energy systems to which we’re applying stress, will only become weaker if we don’t give them this opportunity. If left unchecked long enough, this can lead to injury and chronic fatigue.
In order to give our bodies this critical repair time, it’s important to have active recovery days sprinkled into our training plan. Use these days for lower intensity exercise, stretching, or mashing and rolling. Remember that recovering thoroughly is just as important as training intensely. Treat your body wisely and it will reward you in kind.

Most of us think of fascia as a piece of tissue like a sheet of plastic that shrink wraps us just beneath our skin. Which is true, it is a superficial layer that encases and protects us, but it’s also a structural tissue that creates the framework for our internal soft tissue, forming each section in a long cylindrical honeycomb that shapes and holds everything together.

Fascia needs to be well hydrated to remain healthy and function properly. I like to think of it as a sponge. When it dries out, it becomes inflexible and crunchy. When it’s wet, it’s soft and pliable. You can bend or twist it in any number of positions and it would be difficult to damage.

If we think of our fascia this way, it’s easier to understand why it’s so important to keep it well hydrated. It also makes sense that our level of hydration has a big impact on our mobility and structural integrity. When we stretch, it’s actually the fibers of these connective tissues gliding along one another. They move freely when well hydrated, but they can tack down and become sticky when water is lacking. Simply put, when we’re hydrated, we have greater mobility and are better protected against injury.

Drinking plenty of water is obviously important, but there’s another part to this equation. If you’re fascia has been dehydrated, you’re likely to have some isolated areas in your muscles that still aren’t getting what they need. Think of a hose with a kink in it. These kinks can make it difficult for moisture to get through to the dehydrated tissue. In order to get water into these isolated areas, we need to get aggressive with our soft tissue. This is why SMR “self myofascial release” is so important. A consistent daily mash and roll session will keep the floodgates open, transporting hydration and nutrients through our muscle tissues promoting healthy mobility and safeguarding against injury. (check out this video for a better visual on muscle structure)

Take good care of your tissues and they will reward you with function and resilience. You may not have a daily mash and roll practice at the moment. Stick around for more this month as we explore our pillar of Recovery, we’ll show you how to get started and stay consistent.

Craig Training

Happy​ ​October​ ​gang!

In​ ​an​ ​effort​ ​to​ ​keep​ ​you​ ​informed​ ​about​ ​upcoming​ ​events,​ ​this​ ​month​ ​we’re​ ​launching​ ​our​ ​first ever​ ​newsletter,​ ​“The​ ​Nitty​ ​Gritty”. Don’t​ ​worry,​ ​we​ ​plan​ ​on​ ​taking​ ​the​ ​same​ ​approach​ ​with​ ​our​ ​communication​ ​as​ ​we​ ​do​ ​with​ ​our workouts,​ ​no​ ​fluff​ ​or​ ​BS.​

​That’s​ ​right,​ ​we​ ​won’t​ ​drone​ ​on​ ​about​ ​nothing​ ​just​ ​to​ ​use​ ​keywords​ ​like gym,​ ​exercise,​ ​or​ ​fitness​ ​in​ ​order​ ​to​ ​bring​ ​us​ ​up​ ​in​ ​the​ ​Google​ ​rankings.​ ​​ ​We’ll​ ​cut​ ​the​ ​baloney and​ ​get​ ​to​ ​the​ ​brass​ ​tacks.​ ​No​ ​meaningless​ ​chatter​ ​or​ ​double​ ​talk​ ​here​ ​about​ ​nutrition,​ ​obstacle course​ ​racing​ ​and​ ​barbells​ ​to​ ​improve​ ​our​ ​search​ ​engine​ ​optimization.​ ​Just​ ​the​ ​bare​ ​bones,​ ​the facts,​ ​the​ ​nitty​ ​gritty​ ​if​ ​we​ ​may​ ​and​ ​we​ ​feel​ ​we​ ​have​ ​and​ ​most​ ​certainly​ ​will​ ​in​ ​the​ ​future.​ ​You​ ​can sleep​ ​well,​ ​while​ ​you​ ​rest​ ​and​ ​recover​ ​with​ ​the​ ​knowledge​ ​that​ ​we​ ​know​ ​you’re​ ​busy​ ​and​ ​we wouldn’t​ ​want​ ​to​ ​take​ ​up​ ​your​ ​valuable​ ​time​ ​just​ ​to​ ​say​ ​things​ ​like,​ ​pull​ ​ups,​ ​running​ ​and mobility…ehhemm!​ ​So​ ​without​ ​further​ ​adieu​ ​and​ ​very​ ​little​ ​about​ ​exercise,​ ​nutrition,​ ​rest,​ ​and mindfulness,​ ​let’s​ ​get​ ​down​ ​to​ ​The​ ​Nitty​ ​Gritty!

On​ ​Wednesday​ ​October​ ​18​ ​we’ll​ ​launch​ ​a​ ​brand​ ​new​ ​6:30pm​ ​class​ ​called​ ​Barbells​ ​&​ ​Beers.​ ​If you’re​ ​ready​ ​to​ ​get​ ​a​ ​little​ ​more​ ​serious​ ​about​ ​building​ ​strength​, this ​is​ ​a​ ​class​ ​you should​ ​attend.​ ​Join​ ​coach​es ​Craig​ ​&​ ​Christian​ ​as​ ​they​ ​walk​ ​you​ ​through​ ​the​ ​mobility​ ​and techniques​ ​required​ ​to​ ​lift​ ​heavy​ ​and​ ​get​ ​those​ ​strength​ ​gains.​ ​The​ ​class​ ​will​ ​focus​ ​on​ ​the​ ​three big​ ​lifts,​ ​bench,​ ​squat,​ ​and​ ​deadlift.

Just​ ​a​ ​heads​ ​up,​ ​this​ ​class​ ​will​ ​move​ ​at​ ​a​ ​much​ ​slower​ ​pace​ ​than​ ​most​ ​of​ ​our​ ​classes.​ ​When putting​ ​up​ ​big​ ​weights,​ ​our​ ​bodies​ ​need​ ​a​ ​little​ ​more​ ​recovery​ ​time,​ ​so​ ​taking​ ​a​ ​rest​ ​between sets​ ​is​ ​part​ ​of​ ​the​ ​program.

At​ ​the​ ​end​ ​of​ ​every​ ​class​ ​we’ll​ ​celebrate​ ​how​ ​strong​ ​we​ ​all​ ​feel​ ​by​ ​cracking​ ​an​ ​ice​ ​cold​ ​beer. This​ ​is​ ​optional​ ​and​ ​all​ ​athletes​ ​are​ ​responsible​ ​for​ ​bringing​ ​their​ ​own​ ​beer​ ​(singular),​ ​which​ ​we will​ ​be​ ​happy​ ​to​ ​keep​ ​cold​ ​while​ ​you​ ​sweat.

Speaking​ ​of​ ​celebrating​ ​and​ ​gains,​ ​in​ ​November,​ ​we’re​ ​going​ ​to​ ​turn​ ​things​ ​upside​ ​down​ ​with our​ ​“Happy​ ​Holigains”​ ​strength​ ​&​ ​nutrition​ ​program.

Holigains​ ​has​ ​a​ ​nice​ ​ring​ ​to​ ​it,​ ​doesn’t​ ​it?…​ ​We​ ​thought​ ​so.

As​ ​the​ ​name​ ​implies​ ​we’re​ ​going​ ​to​ ​focus​ ​on​ ​gaining​ ​through​ ​the​ ​Holidays.

Excuse​ ​me​ ​coach,​ ​did​ ​you​ ​just​ ​say​ ​you​ ​want​ ​me​ ​to​ ​gain​ ​weight​ ​during​ ​the​ ​Holidays?!​ ​That’s right.

Listen,​ ​we​ ​all​ ​know​ ​the​ ​drill.​ ​Every​ ​year​ ​we​ ​stress​ ​out​ ​because​ ​we’re​ ​surrounded​ ​by​ ​all​ ​kinds​ ​of delicious​ ​food​ ​at​ ​Thanksgiving​ ​and​ ​Christmas,​ ​we​ ​feel​ ​guilty​ ​when​ ​we​ ​over​ ​eat​ ​and​ ​then​ ​in January​ ​we​ ​make​ ​a​ ​resolution​ ​to​ ​lose​ ​the​ ​weight​ ​and​ ​go​ ​on​ ​a​ ​restrictive​ ​diet.​

​Do​ ​we​ ​need​ ​to​ ​talk about​ ​how​ ​stress​ ​affects​ ​weight​ ​gain​ ​and​ ​how​ ​lowering​ ​calorie​ ​intake​ ​too​ ​far​ ​can​ ​actually​ ​slow down​ ​your​ ​metabolism​ ​and​ ​put​ ​you​ ​in​ ​worse​ ​shape​ ​over​ ​the​ ​long​ ​haul?​ ​Well,​ ​we​ ​just​ ​did. This​ ​year​ ​let’s​ ​embrace​ ​those​ ​extra​ ​calories,​ ​use​ ​them​ ​to​ ​our​ ​advantage​ ​and​ ​feel​ ​good​ ​about​ ​it. The​ ​fact​ ​is,​ ​we​ ​can’t​ ​build​ ​muscle​ ​if​ ​we’re​ ​existing​ ​in​ ​a​ ​calorie​ ​deficit.​ ​So​ ​let’s​ ​find​ ​out​ ​together how​ ​many​ ​and​ ​what​ ​kind​ ​of​ ​calories​ ​we​ ​need​ ​and​ ​enjoy​ ​every​ ​bite​ ​of​ ​them.​ ​After​ ​8​ ​weeks​ ​of ample​ ​fuel​ ​and​ ​strength​ ​training,​ ​our​ ​metabolisms​ ​will​ ​be​ ​a​ ​raging​ ​furnace​ ​and​ ​we’ll​ ​be​ ​set​ ​up​ ​to make​ ​a​ ​modest​ ​calorie​ ​cut​ ​in​ ​January​ ​and​ ​February​ ​to​ ​reveal​ ​the​ ​awesome​ ​six​ ​pack​ ​we’ve​ ​been brewing.

We’ll​ ​give​ ​you​ ​more​ ​information​ ​about​ ​this​ ​program​ ​in​ ​the​ ​weeks​ ​to​ ​come.

Finally,​ ​on​ ​Saturday​ ​November​ ​4th​ ​we’ll​ ​be​ ​holding​ ​our​ ​first​ ​ever​ ​“Fall​ ​Tough​ ​Out​ ​Series”.​ ​As​ ​of right​ ​now,​ ​this​ ​will​ ​be​ ​an​ ​in​ ​house​ ​fitness​ ​competition​ ​that​ ​will​ ​take​ ​place​ ​on​ ​the​ ​GRIT​ ​LIFE grounds.​ ​Depending​ ​on​ ​interest,​ ​we​ ​may​ ​open​ ​it​ ​to​ ​some​ ​of​ ​our​ ​friends​ ​in​ ​Muskegon​ ​and Holland.​ ​It​ ​will​ ​focus​ ​on​ ​functional​ ​movements​ ​such​ ​as​ ​climbing,​ ​crawling,​ ​lifting,​ ​carrying,​ ​and running.​ ​You​ ​may​ ​be​ ​a​ ​stronger​ ​runner​ ​than​ ​lifter,​ ​or​ ​vice​ ​versa.​ ​Either​ ​way,​ ​there​ ​will​ ​be​ ​events you’re​ ​good​ ​at.​ ​When​ ​the​ ​competition​ ​is​ ​finished​ ​we’ll​ ​tally​ ​the​ ​totals​ ​from​ ​each​ ​event​ ​and​ ​crown the​ ​top​ ​three​ ​male​ ​and​ ​female​ ​athletes.​ ​All​ ​competitors​ ​will​ ​receive​ ​a​ ​competition​ ​T​ ​shirt​ ​and​ ​top competitors​ ​will​ ​receive​ ​a​ ​gift​ ​bag​ ​from​ ​our​ ​sponsors.

We​ ​strongly​ ​encourage​ ​everyone​ ​to​ ​participate,​ ​however,​ ​If​ ​you’re​ ​not​ ​interested​ ​in​ ​competing we​ ​will​ ​need​ ​help​ ​judging​ ​and​ ​setting​ ​up​ ​the​ ​competition.​ ​All​ ​volunteers​ ​will​ ​receive​ ​a​ ​volunteer T​ ​shirt​ ​and​ ​our​ ​unending​ ​gratitude.

This​ ​will​ ​be​ ​a​ ​fun​ ​way​ ​to​ ​test​ ​your​ ​fitness​ ​level​ ​and​ ​participate​ ​in​ ​an​ ​event​ ​that​ ​may​ ​be​ ​outside​ ​of your​ ​norm.​ ​Keep​ ​your​ ​eyes​ ​peeled​ ​for​ ​details​ ​in​ ​the​ ​next​ ​few​ ​weeks.​ ​We​ ​hope​ ​you’ll​ ​join​ ​us!

That’s​ ​The​ ​Nitty​ ​Gritty​ ​for​ ​the​ ​month.​ ​Stay​ ​tuned​ ​to​ ​the​ ​GRIT​ ​LIFE​ ​Facebook​ ​page​ ​for​ ​updates and​ ​additional​ ​information. Until​ ​next​ ​time,​ ​train,​ ​fuel,​ ​recover,​ ​and​ ​reflect!

Woman Stretching Outdoors

In the month of October our focus is Recovery. For us, recovery refers to the methods we use and the steps we take to allow our body to rest and repair.

These include but are not limited to:

  • Sleep
  • Time spent outside the gym
  • Hydration
  • Nutrition
  • Posture
  • Stretching, mashing & rolling
  • Stress management
  • Compression

Recovery is multi-sided and includes more than just muscle repair. It involves chemical and hormonal equilibrium, nervous system repair, mental hygiene, and more.

This month as we explore this topic we hope to give some clarity to the how and why it’s so important to our overall health and wellness.

Here’s what we have on deck in the weeks to come:

  • 21 Day Mash & Roll Challenge
  • Hydration’s Role In Recovery
  • What Is Active Recovery?
  • Making Recovery Part Of Your Routine

We hope you’ll stick with us, participate in the comments and conversations on Facebook. Many of you are wrapping up race seasons or beginning a new training regimen. Now is a great time to learn new methods, and set priorities that include recovery.

In our final REFLECT post for the month, we bring you the stories of two of our amazing community members. Learn more about how Amee and Jessica have used meditation, breathing and mindfulness to achieve focus, relieve stress and improve other areas of their lives. At GRIT Life we believe that mindfulness, meditation and positive intentions are a crucial part of healthy lives and fitness routines.

We want to thank Amee and Jess for sharing their stories and giving back to our community. We’ll continue to share stories of our members in the coming months. And if you need any help setting up a mindfulness or meditation practice, don’t hesitate to grab us after class.

Meditation Experience and Practice – Amee

Meditation Experience and Practice – Jessica

We want to hear from you too! Interested in participating in future member spotlights? Touch base with Craig or drop us a comment here or on Facebook. Our community is so important to us and we want to make sure that you have your say.


Man meditating in a field.

As we start to wind down our month long focus on Reflect, we turn our attention to the meditation side of reflection.

While there are many types of meditation (zazen, primordial sound meditation, heart rate meditation just to name a few), all of them offer similar benefits that will pay off in your training, focus and mindfulness.

Regular meditation helps reduce physical stress, increases focus on work and improves your ability to retain knowledge. Recent studies have even shown that semi-regular meditation has huge benefits for one of our most important muscles – our brains.

Per the study, “measurable changes in brain regions associated with memory, sense of self, empathy, and stress start to appear in subjects who practice mindfulness meditation for only eight weeks.”

Want to know more about what meditation might mean for your brain and the impacts it might have on your physical and mental fitness? Check out this article from the Chopra Center.

Not ready to jump into a full meditation practice? Start with just two minutes a day. A great way to begin small steps to longer meditation sessions is to box breathe. We covered box breathing in our post last week and can’t stress enough the importance of this technique in bringing focus to your day.

Do you meditate? We want to know about your practice and what it means to your physical and mental fitness. Shoot us a message over on Facebook if you’re comfortable sharing your story in next week’s post.


Every day, I try to spend a minimum of two minutes practicing box breathing. I think of it as mental hygiene, because it’s like giving your mind a bath. It helps us to focus and clear our mind of distractions.

For me, it’s best to perform this exercise first thing in the morning, but as you begin to see and feel the results, you may find yourself sneaking away throughout the day to refocus your attention.

During your practice, focus on your breath. If your mind wanders, don’t allow yourself to become frustrated. Return to the breath. Like any other exercise, the more you do it, the better you’ll get.

We begin box breathing by exhaling all of the air from the lungs. Once we’ve emptied, we inhale deeply into our bellies for a count of five and then retain that breath for a count of five seconds without closing off our airway. It may be tricky to resist the urge to “hold our breath” and close our mouths at first but with practice it becomes more natural.

Exhale slowly for a count of 5 seconds as you slowly push the air completely from your lungs. Suspend and hold the exhaled breath for an additional 5 seconds without closing the airway to complete the “box.”

Once you’ve mastered the box breath, you can deepen your impact by reciting a mantra each time you are on the hold portion of the exercise. For example: “I ___ know, see, hear and feel that I am _____.” (Fill in the blank with whatever you need to help you power through your day: “powerful, complete, loved, strong, etc.”)

Look at the diagram provided here for a visual of how the box breath works. Give it a try and let us know if you have questions on box breathing in the comments or over on our Facebook Page.

Executing The Box Breath

People have been using breathing exercises for centuries to help them focus and clear their mind of distractions and many of us at GRIT Life know the power of this mindfulness technique. Have a great week!

We’ve all had moments where we lose our focus. We may have hit a plateau, be feeling cold and wanting to stay in bed before that morning sweat session or focus more on life’s stress than our workout.

There’s something we miss when we don’t give our attention to the moment at hand. That flow, that focus – the potential for greater results is lost when we don’t bring mindfulness to the moments we’re in.

When we aren’t focused on what we’re doing, we sometimes lose our sense of satisfaction for the work we’re doing. To boot, we may actually hurt ourselves with these distractions. If you’re in a rush to be done, how careful are you with your form? If you’re zoning out on that run, are you engaging all your core, hitting your breaths or pushing yourself to improve your pace?

Mindfulness during exercise can also bring you:

  • A stronger connection to your body: When you focus on each exercise, the muscles you’re working you’ll have a better understanding of your body, limitations and what you can achieve.
  • Better results: Improved mindfulness yields stronger quality of your movement and, thus, the quality of your overall workout.
  • Greater satisfaction: When you know what you’re working towards, how each exercise feels and whether you’re getting the most out of each exercise, you end your workout knowing you did your best.

5 Ways to Be Mindful During Your Workout

  1. Have a Purpose for Every Workout

Often, people start exercising to lose weight, but that isn’t something that will happen during a single session. Mindfulness is about having something to attack in the moment. Having a purpose provides focus, something to work for and something you can feel great about when you’re in the heat of battling those tough reps. Some great examples of purpose include:

  • Completing a planned workout
  • Reaching a specific heart rate zone
  • To strengthen specific muscles
  • To reach a specific number of calories burned or distance met
  1. Remember WHY You’re Exercising

Ever find yourself zoning out or just going through the motions during your workout? Does your mind drift to other things you need to tackle? Remember why it’s important to do your workout. Reflect on the reasons you’ve made to make it a priority and how this one session will help right now. Some thoughts:

  • This session will give me more energy for my day
  • I’ll feel great about myself if I finish
  • I’ll sleep better tonight after this workout
  • I feel less stressed when I exercise
  • Exercise is self-care
  1. Slow Down

Slowing down is a tough one for some of us. Remember that setting time aside specifically for a workout is important and often difficult. Give yourself the mental space to do this work out. Take your time with each activity and each movement. Form. Posture. Solid core. Think about these things, including the muscles you are targeting. Focus on the way they feel. See how much you can get out of your exercise time.

  1. Remember Your Breath

Next week, we’ll dedicate our post to the box breath and things you can do with breathing during exercise. But as a reminder, if you catch your mind wandering during a workout or find yourself watching the clock, close your eyes, grab a breath and bring yourself back to the moment. You’re exercising now and that’s the only thing you should be focused on. You’ll be able to handle everything else after you’re done.

  1. Focus On The Positives

Focus on the positive things happening in your body during a workout, and when you’re done, remember all that work you just put in. Give yourself time to cool down. Mash and roll all the muscles you worked. If you can, take a few minutes to sit and meditate or lie down for a final relaxation. This gives you a chance to feel all the effects of the work you put in.

Sometimes we absolutely need an escape from ourselves, to let our bodies go through the motions and allow our mind to wander, but if all your workouts are distracted, it’s time to make a change. Start with mindfulness during a single workout. Pay attention to what you’re doing, how you’re feeling. Focus on what it is about that workout that makes you seek a distraction. Over time you’ll see just how changing your focus can inspire future mindfulness and greater satisfaction, both in your workouts and in life.

Have any questions about mindfulness and working out? Stop in and see us. We’re happy to help you set some intentions and teach you more about bringing focus to your routines.




Sun Tzu Statue

“Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated Warriors go to war first and then seek to win.” – Sun Tzu

In September, we reflect. Reflection means many things to many people. To us, it’s about mindfulness.

“Mindfulness” is a popular (but subjective) word that’s often associated with meditation, yoga and spirituality. In experimental psychology, the word is more rigorously defined as controlled attentiveness, a deliberate “awareness of what is happening in the present moment.” In the case of the Sun Tzu quote, mindfulness is about understanding how you’ll win before you even step onto the field of battle, or into the gym!

This month we’ll explore all sides of mindfulness, because each of the definitions are a crucial benefit to health, exercise and recovery. Just like our muscles, it’s important to give our brains active work to stay strong and healthy, as well as time to rest and recover. And if we don’t have our minds right or understand the battle in front of us, we’ve already secured our own defeat.

Each week, we’ll focus on a different piece of mindfulness and reflection. We’ll touch on proper breath, meditation techniques and setting intentions to achieve “deliberate attentiveness.” We’ll even share some thoughts and lessons from the members of our amazing family of GRIT LIFERS.

Here’s what you can look forward to over the next four weeks:

Week of Sept. 4 – The importance of staying mindful during exercise

Week of Sept. 11 – The Box Breath

Week of Sept. 18 – Meditation and our brains

Week of Sept. 25 – Mindfulness and our members

We hope you’ll stick with us, participate in the comments and conversations on Facebook. As the seasons begin to change, it’s the perfect time to reflect, adjust our goals, set intentions and get ready to crush our goals. Interested in being part of our member stories this month? Drop us a comment below or send us a message on Facebook.

Craig Duncan Training

Hi friends and GRITTY people! Now that we’ve had a few months to catch our breath after an amazing grand opening, we’re getting down to business and adding a little inspiration, motivation and community building right here on our website. Welcome to TRUE GRIT. Here you’ll find weekly thoughts, built around one of our four core pillars:

  • FUEL

Each month we’ll have a focus pillar and provide content related to the theme it represents.

When we can we’ll share a workout of the week, a member shoutout, promotions and the latest news about what’s happening here at the gym. Keep us bookmarked and follow our Facebook page for news about when we update TRUE GRIT. Soon, you’ll be able to subscribe for to our monthly TRUE GRIT email newsletter for a synopsis of what we’re covering here week after week. This blog is meant to be an extension of GRIT LIFE’s supportive and friendly community. It’s just one way we plan to evangelize our values to others who might just need to take that first step.

Every post you’ll see here will always be reviewed and approved by GRIT LIFE’s Craig Duncan, but may not necessarily be written by him. TRUE GRIT is a collaborative effort between Craig and some of the passionate members of the GRIT Life community.

We are sincerely overwhelmed with the response we’ve had since our grand opening and can’t wait to continue to build this amazing community of warriors. Stay tuned friends, we have so much more to share with you.