“Strong. Healthy. Fit.”
If these words don’t automatically inspire you to lace up your sneakers and smoke a joint, you’re not alone. Nonetheless, this is the proud tagline of Power Plant Fitness, the world’s first cannabis gym. Coming soon to San Francisco, this new-concept fitness facility plans to challenge everything you thought you knew about health and wellness.
The brainchild of “ganga-preneur” Jim McAlpine, Power Plant Fitness is part of a new and rapidly growing industry eager to cash in on California’s recent legalization of recreational marijuana. Not only will gym-goers be permitted to consume the green stuff before and after their workouts, but they can choose from an array of health and wellness options to help them get fit and fly high. The gym offers everything from weed-assisted fitness plans to a line of edibles for “pre-workout focus and post-workout recovery.”
And lest you think of this as simply a stoner gym, Power Plant’s website is quick to point out their focus is on “full body integrative health.” In fact, cannabis is one of many supplements the gym offers in the name of wellness. New members must first submit to a “cannabis performance assessment” to evaluate their tolerance for THC. This will assist fitness experts in deciding whether or not cannabis is the right choice for their wellness plan.
Sound gimmicky? Not so, says its founder. The idea has been stewing in McAlpine’s brain for about 30 years, when he noticed how marijuana affected his own workouts. As he told Outside, “If you use it right, cannabis takes the things you love and lets you love them more. [It] can help get you into the zone, into eye-of-the-tiger mode.”
Interestingly, science suggests there might be something to McAlpine’s claim. Although the research is far from conclusive, preliminary studies conducted on the brains of mice suggest that the runner’s high we covet when pounding the pavement could be a reaction to the body’s natural production of endocannabinoids. This is a chemical closely associated with the same high we feel on marijuana.
Historically, runner’s high has been linked to the brain’s release of endorphins. But according to a study published in Scientific American, endocannabinoids may be the real culprit. To test the theory, researchers in Germany studied two groups of mice. The team had one group of mice run for several hours on an exercise wheel. Meanwhile, the other group remained sedentary. In the active group, scientists noted a reduction in anxiety and a higher threshold for pain. These are the same effects associated with runner’s high.
But what caused their mousy bliss? To find out, researchers made the little athletes take another turn on the exercise wheel. But this time, they blocked parts of the mice’s brains responsible for the release of each chemical. The result? Researchers found that blocking the endocannabinoid receptors led to mice with higher anxiety and a lower tolerance for pain. By contrast, blocking the release of endorphins had little effect on the mice.
While scientists have yet to test this theory on human runners, gym-goers can judge the effects of cannabis on their own treadmill runs starting in May, when Power Plant Fitness opens its doors to the public. If all goes well, plans are underway to open additional Power Plant Fitness centers in five other cities, including Los Angeles, San Jose, Seattle, Denver, and Portland, Oregon.