When do I Take A Rest Day, Coach?

By Debbie Leonti

Movement is a beautiful thing.  I believe that at times we all take movement for granted.  We drive our cars or take other means of transportation to get us to and from places.  Rather than walk, we will call an Uber to take us somewhere that is literally five minutes away.  On top of using means of transportation, most of us are stuck behind a desk all hours of the day trying to make a living, contribute to the world, and make money to support ourselves and our loved ones.  If we are lucky, we can make it to our favorite CrossFit class and break a little sweat to have a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction of doing something positive for our bodies.  We get home, kick our feet up, watch an episode (or two, or three go “GOT”), then hit bed and repeat the process the next day.

Now, the question arises from many of my clients, “coach, when should I take a rest day?”  I think this is an excellent question, but not so simple to answer.  We have to have a little conversation on this topic.  First, we must define what exactly a “Rest day” is and secondly, we must truly be in tune with how our bodies are feeling both inside and outside of the gym.

Personally, I do not believe in rest days.  I am sure I will get a lot of negative thoughts and people may disagree with my thought process, but please just hear me out.

As I have stated earlier, I believe that movement is a beautiful thing.  If we have the ability to move, we should not take it for granted.  Everyone has different interpretations and views of exercise.  Some of us see it as lying on the floor, dripping of sweat, begging for our coaches to come and save us from our misery while others see it as taking their dog for a twenty minute walk outside.  BOTH are great and both have their purpose.  Not every day has to be a competition where we are trying to reach new personal bests or get out of that comfort zone we are always talking about.  Some days are just meant to be more laid back without the stress of a clock or someone yelling at you.  There are so many forms of movement and we can vary the intensity and volume daily.

Now, back to my client.  “Coach, when do I rest?”  My first question is, “how are you feeling?”  I try to peel the onion a bit if the immediate response is being very sore.  There are multiple reasons why our bodies get sore and sometimes, exercise is NOT the only culprit.  We can be dehydrated, not eating enough nutrient dense foods, lack of sleep, too much alcohol, etc.  Once we establish how we are feeling, I would follow up with a potential game plan.  Feeling really sore?  Sitting at home all day on the couch binge watching Netflix the following day of feeling sore because I told you to “rest” is NOT the best decision (and will probably only have you feeling worse).  Lack of movement is probably the worst thing we could do for our bodies.  I say this with understanding of not taking movement to “extremes”.  If you feel that your body needs a rest day, then take a different approach to exercise for that day.  Movement is beautiful and no reason to avoid it.  Fitness can be going on a walk outside.  Fitness can be playing outside with your kids at the park.  Fitness can be walking around the city rather than taking a cab everywhere.  We also offer so many different classes at Northeast, so if you don’t feel like lifting weights, jump in on an endurance class and take your intensity down.  I do believe over-training can be taken to extremes especially when we are not taking proper care of ourselves outside of the gym.  Otherwise, chat with one of us and let’s see how we can help you continue to see progress without beating up your bodies.

Just recently, our staff had an excellent meeting about scaling and modifying.  We are here to help all of you become better athletes and our goal is to help you move safely.  Modifying can mean that we completely change the workout for you simply because your body is feeling a bit more sore than usual; utilize us!  Do not look for an excuse to lay on the couch all day just to feel worse the following day.  We can always provide you with something to help make your time worthwhile and to help aid recovery on the body.  We are meant to move; not every day has to be intense.  Be honest with yourself and work around it.

Keep moving, guys!