Recovery Methods: Floating at Floathouse Victoria

Lately I’ve been talking a lot about balance, as well as the mental side of training. While I’m currently focusing on improving my mental state, my physical recovery (aside from sleeping) could really use some attention. Throughout the week, I mainly rely on foam rolling/mobility, a massage, and adequate sleep to keep my body healthy. However, after an intense or prolonged training week, travel, or even bouts of mental stress, additional methods can be beneficial and improve recovery.

Needing Some Recovery

One of the few recovery methods I’ve tried is floating. My most recent floating session was over the Christmas holidays, after experiencing a delay-filled trek from NYC to Victoria. My body was completely shot. Turns out that getting to sleep at 2:30 am local time (but 5:30 am EST), and being squished in germ people filled airports wreaks havoc on your nervous system. I slept until a respectable time of 7 am, and had great plans to train twice that day, first at 11 am and then again at 3:45 pm. I figured I could shake off the minimal hours of sleep and jet lag, push through the training, and then call it an early night.

You can probably guess how well that plan worked out. During my first session with Erik, I felt truly unfit. I could hit the ball just fine, but as a rally progressed past 8-10 shots, my legs felt as though they had been injected with burning liquid. The more tired I got, the later I got on the ball, reducing my options. Talk about a downward spiral!

After the match, Erik suggested I go to Floathouse for a 90-minute float instead of training again later that day. I jumped -lethargically- at the chance, and he set it up right then and there. (Erik owns Floathouse, and was kind enough to comp me a float).

Have you ever done 90 minutes of absolutely nothing? No, I don’t mean sleeping. I’m talking about actively taking time to shut your brain off, and relax so deeply that you enter into almost a hypnotic-like state.

What is “floating”?

Floatation therapy, or simply “floating” is a form of sensory deprivation, where you lie in a tank filled with 1000 L of water + over 1200 pounds of Epsom Salts, all heated to skin temperature. This saturated solution allows you to float, unable to distinguish between the air (which is also heated to body temp) and water, giving you the illusion of being in midair. When the lights are dimmed/shut off, your ears are submerged in the tank (your face is above the water, so you breathe normally), and you have zero bodily contact with any hard surface, you feel deprived of virtually any senses.

A float tank! The neon lights change colours every couple of minutes (it’s not green water!)

What are the benefits of floating?

In addition to stress relief, there are lots of benefits to floating. Some of the additional benefits include:

  • Engages Parasympathetic System

    This is a fancy way of saying that it helps you relax. Suppressing your sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight mode) allows for your parasympathetic system to engage, which helps decrease muscle tension, blood pressure, heart rate, and stress hormones, and increase endorphins.

  • Pain Management

    Floating can relieve back and neck pain, by alleviating compression on the spine. Conditions such as arthritis, bursitis and tendinitis can be improved simply by lying in the float tank.

  • Magnesium Absorption

    Most people are magnesium deficient without even knowing. The concentration of Epsom salts, (aka magnesium sulfate), is so concentrated in the float tank, that some of the minerals are absorbed into the skin and hair. This can prevent cardiovascular disease, regulate blood pressure, help prevent osteoporosis, and provide PMS relief.

  • Muscle Healing

    Athletes can benefit from the deep healing effects of the epsom salts, as well as the experience of weightlessness. It also improves circulation, flushes lactic acid, and detoxifies muscles.

  • Meditation and Visualization

    The float tank is truly a unique experience, as it allows you to reach a deeper and quicker level of meditation. (Personally, I found that I reached a mental state similar to what I imagine hypnosis to be like. I wasn’t sleeping, but I was not fully awake and thinking, which was incredibly peaceful). Some find that the combination of extreme relaxation and heightened awareness can induce a level of calmness needed to perform at ones best.

  • Stress Relief

    A 90 minute session in the float tank can promote the production of feel good neurotransmitters (dopamine and endorphins), while relieving stress hormones.

My Experience at Floathouse Victoria

When I walked into Floathouse, I couldn’t help but immediately feel calm. It is modern and simplistic, and feels a lot like a spa. I especially love the indoor greenery!

Real live plants growing out of the wall

I was greeted by a friendly front desk person, and headed to my float room. Each room has a tank and a shower. The float itself lasts for 75 minutes, but you are given an extra 15 minutes to shower (before and after) and get settled in the tank.

En route to the float tank. To the right, check out the housemade Kombucha on tap!

The first thing I noticed when I climbed into the tank was the water thickness and temperature. The feel of the water was remarkable. Thousands of pounds of dissolved epsom salts creates a very heavy solution, which is so saturated that it allows your body to float evenly in the water. Furthermore, because the water and air are heated to the same temperature, they are virtually indistinguishable from one another, so you never feel chilled.

I chose to keep both the neon lights and the music on during the float, and also kept the lid of the tank cracked open slightly. While I do love the isolated experience, I’m a bit claustrophobic, and simply felt more comfortable feeling as though I had some “contact” with the outside world!

This particular time, it took me a good 20-30 minutes to settle into the float, and once I did, it passed by in a flash. While I didn’t find myself in a hypnotic state like I did during my first experience,  I was able to relax and completely let my mind go.

After the float, I immediately noticed the difference in my state of mind. I felt less stressed, and much more equipped and ready to handle any crap that might be thrown my way. Although I couldn’t feel a noticeable difference in my body right away, I know that the epsom salts (paired with a good night of sleep), would help me recovery immensely for the following day’s session(s).

Would I Float Again?

If I had access to an affordable place like Floathouse in NYC, I would absolutely incorporate it into my recovery routine more often. (This is why I take advantage of my friends/family/member discount when I’m home in Victoria!). Prices aside, I think floating is both physically and mentally beneficial. It doesn’t feel like a waste of time (if you’re highly anxious, I could see this being a problem!), and the state of relaxation is unlike anything I have ever experienced.

If you live in Victoria or Vancouver BC, check out Floathouse (they have locations in both cities)! I cannot recommend them enough. Once I find somewhere in NYC I’ll be sure to post about my experience there as well!

 

 

NASM CPT: My Experience + Tips

I am officially a NASM Certified Personal Trainer!

Image 10While I don’t know what my official score was (yet), I do know that I passed, and right now that’s all that matters! Coming right out of college, I was pretty used to the whole study/exam process, but it had been ages since I’d had to teach myself an entire course (hello, grade 9 math!).

My biology background helped me out with a lot of Chapter 2 (Science), and my experience as an athlete made it much easier to understand the Human Movement Science portions. (For example, I know from personal experience that my knee has caved inwards during a single leg squat because of my underdeveloped gluteal muscles).

Reading blogger’s study guides online was also extremely helpful, so along with this NASM review, I will also link to all of the worthwhile tools I used throughout the studying process.

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Why NASM? (National Academy of Sports Medicine)

  • It is widely accepted and recognized. I’d seen the name pop up everywhere- on blogs, workout forums, and gym/fitness studio websites. Out of all of the personal training certifications out there, I’d say that NASM was the one which appeared the most, followed by ACE.

How much did it cost?

  • I chose the second cheapest option (exam + online self-study materials), which costs $699. (Note: I received a discount for agreeing to write this review post, which ended up bringing my cost down a bit). The cheapest option is $599, and only includes the exam- no practice materials, no textbook, nothing.

How long did I study for?

  • About 2 months. I purchased the NASM package at the beginning of June, and took the exam August 11th. I studied nearly every day during June, backed off a bit for the first two weeks of July, and then ramped it up towards the end of July/beginning of August.
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Studying on my “couch” (aka a pillow on the floor) before I had a bed or anything to sit on in the apartment!

 

How did I study?

  • Textbook (provided by NASM). I read through the entire textbook and made notes, which took me the better part of a month. After attempting some questions, and realizing I was nowhere near prepared, I then went through the textbook again, this time highlighting important areas and bookmarking certain tables with post-it notes.
  • Online flashcards (provided by NASM). There are roughly 400 flashcards in total, and they are very comprehensive. If you don’t know a topic very well, reviewing these will most definitely point out those weaknesses.
  • Online practice tests. I ended up finding lots of practice questions online, but beware- some of the information may be outdated and/or incorrect. Nevertheless, it’s a good way to test yourself, but when in doubt, always refer to the official NASM resources for the correct answers. Below are a few links to some of the online quizzes/tests/flashcards I used:
  • iPhone apps. I downloaded two free apps, and one paid app, which cost me $5.99, and provided me with about 450 questions. The paid app was great for when I was killing time on the train/subway, or trying to fall asleep. It allowed me to practice without having to lug around the ginormous textbook everywhere.
  • This Bodybuilding.com forum. Skip to the last page for the most recent material and tips. It is really helpful- I highly recommend checking it out! Some of the same exact questions popped up on my exam.
  • Blogger’s study guides. To get a better sense of NASM, and what was important, I read a lot of online study guides- the best being one by the Healthy Gamer (link below).
  • Extra practice exam ($20) from NASM. I purchased this the night before, and am really glad that I did. I ended up completing the exam at 11:30 pm in about 40 minutes (rushing through it), and passed- barely. The lesson I learned from this is that I needed to really concentrate during the exam, read the questions thoroughly, and avoid “stupid” errors. I also learned some things I somehow skipped over while reviewing the textbook. Taking this practice exam was also great practice for understanding how NASM phrases their questions, which can be tricky sometimes.

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NASM Special Offer

Good news! The NASM people have agreed to set up Squash on Squash readers with a discount for your CPT package! For more info and to take advantage of this, email Michael Miller (michael.miller@NASM.org), and let him know that you were referred from Nicole at Squash on Squash. Michael was incredibly helpful, and I really enjoyed partnering with him/NASM!

If you have any questions regarding my NASM experience, feel free to reach out and shoot me an email at squashonsquashblog@gmail.com.

Questions:

Are you considering getting your CPT? If so, have you heard of NASM?

If you are certified by NASM, what was your experience like? Anything to add?

 

Angie’s Boomchickapop Review

Disclaimer: Angie’s Boomchickapop samples were sent to me free of charge and I was not compensated for my review. All opinions are my own.

For as long as I can remember, I have loved popcorn. And I’m no popcorn snob either. I love it the movies, the homemade varieties, and of course- kettle corn! When popcorn was deemed a “health food” a couple of years ago, it absolutely blew up the market with pre-popped varieties lining several shelves in grocery stores.

I was so excited.

Popcorn that tastes delicious and doesn’t require any loud popping? How ideal for a college student!

One of the first varieties I came across at our University store was Angie’s Boomchickapop.

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(source)

 

For the past couple of years, Boomchickapop has become a staple in my life, and is super popular amongst the students on Princeton’s campus.

When do I love to eat Boomchickapop?

  • When my friends and I are headed back to our rooms after a fun Saturday night and are looking for something to munch on while we debrief, Boomchickapop’s lightly sweet flavour is always the first item on our list.
  • When my team heads off on long bus trips, popcorn is always the first snack to be opened, and polished off before arrive at our destination. (That and chocolate covered pretzel thins!).
  • When I’ve got the late-night midterm munchies, and want something light to snack on, Boomchickapop is my go-to buddy (besides coffee!).

It’s pretty safe to say I’ve had a pretty solid relationship with Boomchickapop over my college years. So when I received four big bags of “samples” to try out, I was jumping for joy. (Not actually jumping, but there was definitely an extra pep in my step as I toted my cardboard box back to my room).

Angie’s Boomchickapop sent me four bags to try:

  • White cheddar popcorn
  • White cheddar baked ancient grain puffs
  • Sweet and salty baked ancient grain puffs
  • Sweet barbecue baked ancient grain puffs

IMG_6173I was so tempted to tear open every bag to try each flavour, but I exercised some self-control (whaaat?!) and started with just one, the white cheddar popcorn.

IMG_6178It was delicious, and is currently rivalling Lightly Sweet for my all-time favourite Boomchickapop popcorn.

What are these “Puffs”?

Along with the popcorn, Angie’s Boomchickapop also sent me 3 bags of their newest line: “Boomchickapuffs”.

 

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When I was younger, both the word “cheezies” also meant “cheese puffs”. I’ve never loved traditional cheezies, but have always had a bit of a soft spot in my heart for cheese puffs. They’re light, airy, and of course, cheesy- how could you not like them?!

Oh right, they’re basically made with chemicals.

I had no idea what the ancient grain puffs would be like, so I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered them to be like my beloved childhood cheese puffs, but with real ingredients! 

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My favourite flavour was the white cheddar flavour, followed by the sweet and salty as a close second. I’ve never been a huge barbecue fan, but even so, I actually quite liked it. However, since I’m partial to cheese, I’ve got to give it my blue ribbon. That being said, I would most definitely not turn down any Boomchickapuffs that happened to land in my hand/pocket/pantry :).

Well shoot. Now I’m hungry and am craving some Boomchickapop. Is it snack time yet?!

Questions:

Have you ever tried Angie’s Boomchickapop or Boomchickapuffs?

Which flavour would you be most interested in trying?

 

 

 

MyProtein Impact Whey Protein Powder {Review}

I. Love. Protein Powder.

At some point when I have tried enough brands and flavours, I am going to write a comprehensive post, outlining my favourites and their best “uses”. (Hint: I never make plain, boring protein shakes!).

That being said, I am always on the lookout for new protein powders. In general, I have 3 main criteria I follow when assessing a protein powder:

  • Ingredients: Basically, if the ingredient list is ridiculously long, and I can’t pronounce the names, I don’t go for it. I know there’s probably going to be some unnatural stuff in there- I just try to make sure there’s not a lot.
  • Protein and sugar content: I like to try and find protein powders that have at least 18-20g of protein per serving. (Most vegan protein powders will only have ~15g protein per serving, whereas whey protein powders can have upwards of 20g per serving). Also, when it comes to sugar content, I like powders that have ~8 g or less per serving. Ideally less than 5 is best, but sometimes you gotta take what you can get!
  • Taste: I really cannot emphasize just how important taste is when it comes to protein powder. If it’s chalky, acidic, or just plain weird tasting, it’ll sit in my cupboard for ages. I’d might as well enjoy what I’m eating, right?

So when Myprotein contacted me a little while ago, asking if I would try and review one of their products, of course I jumped at the chance. Another protein powder to try? Sign me up!

I picked up the bag on my way down to practice, and didn’t hesitate to open the cardboard box up right away in the locker room. There were quite a few laughs when I opened the box up to find not a sample, but rather a monster-sized 5.5 pound bag of chocolate flavoured impact whey protein powder!

myprotein1I’ve since been gradually working my way through the ginormous bag, testing it to see what its particular “use” will be. The verdict?

A good old chocolate smoothie!

Although I generally put protein powder in everything (homemade bars, yogurt, oatmeal, even hot chocolate sometimes), I found that this worked best mixed in a smoothie. (If you’re looking for “healthier” ways to incorporate chocolate and/or protein powder into your diet, check out my post Healthy Chocolate for ideas!).

Myprotein Impact Whey Protein: The Verdict

  • Ingredients: On the whole, decent! Sure there’s some sucralose and artificial flavouring in there, but all in all, the ingredient list is short. 
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I transferred some of the protein powder into a smaller bag for easier access.
  • Protein content: When comparing calories per serving to protein content, MyProtein gets a very good score. It’s only 90 calories per scoop, and offers 18 g of protein! Plus, only 1 g of sugar per serving- you really can’t beat that one.

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  • Taste: I’m very picky when it comes to protein powders. While Myprotein wasn’t the most versatile powder I’ve encountered (keep in mind I put protein powder in everything so I’m a harsh critic!), I was really pleased that it blended well in smoothies. Chocolate smoothies is one of my favourite ways to enjoy chocolate protein powder, so I’m totally cool having basically an unlimited supply of smoothie mix 🙂 .

myprotein2Ironically, I think I managed to snag a ride from a friend after practice so I didn’t have to walk back carrying a 5.5 lb bag of protein powder. Ehhhhh I’d already done my workout for the day! 😉

Questions:

Do you use protein powder, and if so what do you look for in a protein powder? 

Have you ever heard of Myprotein? 

 

38th and WICK Skirt {Review}

Hey guys!

It feels like ages since I’ve posted! With all of the family craziness surrounding Christmas, I didn’t have much time to put together a post of any sort, but today I’ve got something pretty cool to share with you!

38th & WICK 

wickskirt1One of my friends from school, Liz, is the co-founder of 38th & WICK, a clothing startup which has created the “No Stress Black Dress”. After having heard all of the hype flow throughout campus, I was very excited to get my hands on 38th & WICK’s “TJ” skirt to test out myself.

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Dinner party outfit

I was able to wear the skirt for a couple different dinner parties this holiday season, and received a lot of compliments, especially when I showed them all of its sweet features!

38th & WICK’s website boasts the following:

  • High performance, stretchy fabric

“High performance, four-way stretch outer fabric is moisture wicking and heavier than our other fabrics for a more luxurious feel”

IMG_6008I loved the comfortable feel of the skirt- I almost felt like I could go play squash in it! (Which technically, I could, since the fabric is moisture-wicking!). The skirt was super stretchy, which was absolutely crucial for the infamous post-dinner full belly syndrome.

  • Built in spandex shorts

“Lightweight, breathable built-in shorts provide maximum coverage and smooth out VPL”

I personally loved the built in shorts. It made me feel like I was fully covered, and they were super comfortable to boot!

  • Pocket for Phone/ID/Keys

“Phone, keys, ID, or cards easily slip into the subtle yet roomy waistband pocket”

IMG_5985If you’re not a fan of carrying on to your purse when you go out at night (seriously, who wants to dance with a bag?!), you will love this feature of “The TJ” skirt. You could comfortably hide a lipstick, keys, earrings, or other personal items in this subtle pocket for safekeeping.

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Oh hello there!

Overall, the TJ skirt was a huge hit amongst my friends and family. I especially loved how the skirt could be dressed up or down, for either a casual or professional look. (Please excuse my “modelling”… if you can even call it that)

One night I paired the skirt with a simple t-shirt sweater, black blazer, and chunk necklace for a professional-esque look. This outfit also looks great with black tights!

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IMG_5967I also really liked how the skirt was long enough. Since I’m fairly all (about 5 ft 9), most skirts and dresses appear pretty short on me. I’ve learned to deal with it, and now accept it, but it’s nice having a skirt which is long enough such that I don’t have to constantly pull it down to hide my derriere.

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Bum = very covered!

The size I am wearing in the pictures is a medium, and if I were to own one for myself, I would probably choose a large. While the medium size fit my waist properly and was a good length, it didn’t quite give enough room for my squash-butt. (For those of you that didn’t quite catch that reference- squash players tend to develop “squash butts” from all the lunging that is involved). Therefore, in order to accommodate for this, I would probably go up a size.

38th & WICK Special Offer!

Now, I have an exciting announcement! Until the end of the month, 38th and WICK is offering 20% off on their orders! Check out their website (38thandwick.com) to learn more about their other products, all of which are other moisture-wicking, comfortable, and high-quality party-wear!

If you guys have any questions for me about the skirt, feel free to comment below, send me an email (squashonsquashblog@gmail.com). If you have any questions for 38th & WICK, feel free to send them an email at ask@38thandwick.com), or by using this form.

Questions:

Have you ever heard of 38th & WICK? 

What do you look for in going-out attire?

What features of “The TJ” skirt would you appreciate?