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The importance of play at work

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The working population spends nearly 70% of their days at work. We all know that ‘all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy(/girl!)’ so what can we do to make sure that employees have enough ‘play’ during their time at work?

Historically ‘play’ has been associated with children but there is a growing trend recognising the importance of play in adults. The concept of play started as part of our fight-or-flight response and it’s been a part of all cultures across the world ever since – it is part of the fabric of being human.

Outside of the occasional team social, usually involving dinner and drinks, play is still generally overlooked in the workplace and largely seen as mutually exclusive (if you’re playing, you’re not working!). With significant shifts in the work landscape since the pandemic, if employers wish to improve retention levels, it’s now accepted that increasing the level of ‘play’ in day-to-day employee interactions could solve more than one current problem facing teams.

Why should employers increase play in the workplace?

Improved mental health

The NHS look at mental wellbeing through five key pillars – connecting with people, being physically active, learning new skills, giving to others and paying attention to the present moment.

An increase in play generally leads to increased connection with people; play provides the potential for being physically active; depending on the nature of the play employees can learn new skills; and while in play employees are forced to be present in the moment, with work and life worries ideally fading temporarily into the background.

In 2022 London School Economics published a study that playing location-based games that encourage outdoor activity, face-to-face socialisation and exposure to nature may alleviate mild depression. The study findings were based on Pokemon Go, but other events such as StreetHunt Games’ gamification of city exploration were also quoted as a popular example.

Addressing the reduced connection resulting from hybrid working

We’re getting close to two years since the COVID 19 restrictions ended but we’ve seen a permanent change to the working from home culture compared to pre-pandemic. Whereas working from home used to be the exception, as of May 2023, 39% of workers in Great Britain had worked from home at some point in the previous 7 days.

This reduction in face-to-face interaction at work means that employers need to find other ways to ensure their teams are connecting. Introducing elements of play into the working day, for example bringing colleagues together with face-to-face play can potentially reduce the risk of isolation and loneliness.

Cognitive benefits

It is believed that play has cognitive benefits for adults, including improved memory, attention, and problem-solving skills. Stuart Brown, the founder of the National institute of play was quoted as saying that ‘play leads to brain plasticity, adaptability and creativity…nothing fires up the brain like play.’

A BBC article in 2022 asked the question ‘Is it time we took ‘play’ more seriously?’ The article explored the reasons children play and it was explained by Sam Wass, a child psychologist and neuroscientist at the University of East London, that play helps to build connections between different parts of the brain which haven’t necessarily been connected before.

Increased happiness and therefore productivity

There is a significant benefit to employers having happier employees with evidence from the University of Oxford indicating that happy workers are 13 per cent more productive.

For Samantha Warren, Professor at the University of Portsmouth, having a “good old laugh at work seems to be the solution for everything.”

Her work suggests that being playful can make businesses better with effects such as “reduced absenteeism, greater commitment, more creativity, better team building and general happiness.”

What practical changes can organisations make to incorporate more play into the workplace?

Introduce play to team training

Learning and development are critical to a teams’ success and one way to increase employee engagement is to introduce elements of play into training and workshops.

This is a concept used by LEGO in their LEGO SERIOUS PLAY methodology. They run facilitated sessions, where participants are playing with LEGO and they’ve found this kind of hands-on, minds-on learning produces a deeper, more meaningful understanding of the world and its possibilities. It encourage reflection, as well as develop problem-solving skills and use of the imagination.

Bring play to team socials

Historically team socials involve dinner and a reliance on alcoholic drinks, but there has been a growing trend to increase the level of play at such events and move to activity-based team socials instead.

As reported by Raconteur, VenueScanner’s head of BSB Sophie Knight noted that they have seen a 2.5 times increase in reservations for experience and activity-based venues over the 2023 Christmas period, compared to last year.

There are a number of examples of activity based team socials such as ten-pin bowling, electronic darts, crazy golf, escape rooms and outdoor scavenger hunt games. Events such as StreetHunt Games and Monopoly Lifesized have substantial proportions of their business generated through corporate bookings.

Ensure adequate breaks

Increased play can also be enabled through ensuring employees have time and flexibility in their working day to fit in their choice of activities. This could include playing a game of squash or tennis with a colleague or friends, a gym or dance class or a game of table tennis in the workplace.

Table tennis England have reported that 51% of workplace table tennis participants reported they increased their physical activity levels since playing at work. Healthy body = healthy mind!

The use of technology

There is now a whole industry dedicated to providing gamification software to businesses with the aim of boosting engagement. This includes games that employees play to teach them how to become better salespeople or self-improvement training using habit tracking software.

If companies are looking to improve workplace processes, gamification software may also provide an efficient solution. Wazoku, a web based workplace idea generation and innovation tool, incorporates challenges and leaderboards into such activities, facilitating play whilst looking to improve working practices/environments.

Play is not a new concept – it was a method used to appease the Gods in Roman times. The Roman Games included chariot races, gladiator contests and theatrical performances which were held in honour of Jupiter, the king of the gods.

Although not new, its role in adult society and in particular in the workplace is evolving and a likely trend in 2024 is for the importance of play for both employers and employees continuing to increase.


Annaliza Sturge

Annaliza Sturge is the Co-Founder of StreetHunt Games alongside her husband Tony Sturge, married accountants who love travel and seeking out unique experiences including immersive events, escape rooms and theatre. Together they launched the event company in 2021.
StreetHunt Games provide engaging outdoor, self-guided mysteries set around captivating locations – think grown-up scavenger hunt meets escape room meets murder mystery, played outside across a city. All you need is a phone and a sense of adventure!

Art meets wellness at Chez Mahmud

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Visual Arts

Art meets wellness at Chez Mahmud


Sunrise at Maasai Mara’ by Tejal Patel at Chez Mahmud, on February 2, 2024. PHOTO | POOL

Tejal Patel was a mathematician, mechanical engineer, interior designer, and teacher before she came to Kenya and finally had a chance to become the ‘self-taught’ artist she had always wanted to be.

“My father wouldn’t hear of my becoming an artist,” Tejal tells the BD Life. “He finally let me study interior design, but it wasn’t until I came here to be married that I was finally able to pursue my passion for art,” she adds.

Admitting she had one art teacher in Class 8 in India who introduced her to painting in oils, she has since learned to love working with acrylics and watercolours, which are the majority of works featured at Chez Mahmud in her first solo exhibition.

Ironically, Tejal cannot escape her scientific background, given the 30 super-realistic paintings are drawn and painted with so much precision, delicacy and sensitivity that one feels they could have been commissioned by some high-quality bird guidebook. But they weren’t.

The decorative nature of her paintings compels one to ask the age-old question: are you creating art for art’s sake, or art with a vision and purpose beyond its merely being beautiful?

The beauty of her watercolours is probably why her paintings were welcomed for an exhibition. “We have exhibited a different artist every month since we opened [in late 2022], so we were happy to meet Tejal and support her art with this exhibition,” Zahra Peera, Chez Mahmud’s owner tells the BD Life.

Explaining that Chez Mahmud is not simply an art gallery, she describes her space as a ‘Wellness Centre’ as well as an art gallery.

“Our vision was to realise the connection between art and wellness,” says Zahra, who arrived in Nairobi in February 2020, just before the Covid-19 lockdown. “In a way, Chez Mahmud was born during the pandemic since we were also new to Kenya and feeling our way,” she adds.

Born in Dar es Salaam just as her father ‘Mahmud’ (short for Mohamed) was wrapping up his Makonde Carvers workshop and curio business, Zahra was whisked away from East Africa to France when she was just two months old.

TEJAL 1

Tejal Patel had her first solo exhibition at Chez Mahmud on February 2, 2024. PHOTO | POOL

“My father had the workshop in our backyard where he’d employed 30 Makonde carvers to create sculptures which he traded in Germany, France, and the UK,” she recalls.

In so doing, he was marketing the Makonde brand name when no one in Europe had ever heard of them before.

But her father felt compelled to shut his business because everything was being nationalised and many in the private sector were leaving the country at the time.

She compares that period with what happened to Asians in Uganda, although there was no comparison between Idi Amin and Julius Nyerere. Asians were not threatened in the same way in Tanzania.

However, people were fearful of losing everything they’d worked hard to build in business, so her family quickly left once they realised the direction the country was headed.

In any case, Zahra grew up and went to school in Paris. She studied hospitality at university and has been working in management for an international hotel firm, based in Johannesburg for the past 13 years.

“But I decided I’d prefer working for myself to assist others rather than merely work for the company and its shareholders,” she says.

That is when her interest in wellness developed as a business model, including both wellness and fine art at Chez Mahmud.

“We run workshops in yoga and meditation. And as we’re concerned with issues of mental health, we work with a psychotherapist, a family facilitator [or counsellor], and two sound therapists,” Zahra explains.

After that, she invites me to experience something she enthusiastically calls ‘Sound therapy.’

Then she calls in Reza Naheed who works with the combination of sound, energy, and healing. She describes her gift to me as ‘a sample’, but an hour and a half later, I feel I have been deeply moved by a series of resonating sounds meant to literally touch and heal the heart, soul, and mind. That’s the idea anyway, and it seems to work.

tejal3

Bloomscape by Tejal Patel at Chez Mahmud, on February 2, 2024. PHOTO | POOL

Reza collaborates with his partner to work with an assortment of percussive instruments, everything from gongs, glass bowels, and cymbals to drums, cowbells, and shakers of all kinds.

So, whether you go to Chez Mahmud to see the art of Tejal or to meet Zahra of the Wellness Centre, it’s worth a trip to Nairobi’s Kitisuru to see and feel what’s happening there.

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Jobless rate hits record low in 2023

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By Andrea C. Abestano, Researcher

THE JOBLESS RATE dropped to a record low of 4.3% last year as more Filipinos became employed, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported on Wednesday.

Preliminary results from the PSA’s Labor Force Survey showed the average unemployment rate last year was lower than 5.4% logged in 2022.

This was the lowest jobless rate in almost two decades since the PSA revised the definition of unemployed in April 2005 to refer to Filipinos aged 15 years and older without a job and are available for work and actively seeking one.

This translated to 2.19 million jobless Filipinos last year, lower than 2.67 million in 2022.

“We welcome the news of a record-low unemployment rate, signifying the economy’s sustained momentum and resiliency of our labor market,” National Economic and Development Authority Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan said in a statement.

“We will continue ramping up social and physical infrastructure investments and dramatically improve human capital to strengthen our people’s employment prospects,” he added.

In December alone, the unemployment rate fell to 3.1% from 3.6% in November and from 4.3% in the same month in 2022. This was also a record low.

That month, the ranks of unemployed Filipinos dropped to 1.6 million, more than half a million less than the 2.22 million in December 2022. This was also lower than 1.83 million in November 2023.

Meanwhile, the employment rate in December also hit a record high of 96.9%, above the 96.4% in November and 95.7% in December 2022.

In absolute terms, the country’s employed Filipinos in December reached 50.52 million, up by 889,000 from the previous month. On an annual basis, the country added 1.52 million jobs from 49 million in December 2022.

PSA Undersecretary and National Statistician Claire Dennis S. Mapa said in a briefing that the record-low unemployment in December came amid the rise in available work, especially during the holiday season.

“Consumption is higher [during the holiday season] and thus we create additional jobs,” he said in mixed English and Filipino.

Job quality improved last year as the underemployment rate — or the proportion of employed Filipinos but still looking for more work or longer working hours to the total employed population — fell to an all-time low of 12.3% from 14.2% in 2022.

This translated to 5.95 million underemployed Filipinos last year, down from 6.68 million in 2022.

In December alone, the underemployment rate hit 11.9%. It slightly edged up from 11.7% in November but was lower than 12.6% in December 2022.

The number of underemployed Filipinos in December reached 6.01 million. This was higher than 5.79 million in November and 6.2 million in December 2022.

The country’s labor force in December was recorded at 52.13 million, 658,000 more than in November and 907,000 higher than in December 2022.

The labor force participation rate (LFPR) that month reached 66.6%, an improvement from 65.9% in November and 66.4% in December 2022.

Philippine Labor Force Situation

This brought the average workforce size to 50.38 million last year, which translated to a record-high LFPR of 64.9%.

In December, Filipinos worked for 40.6 hours a week on average, longer than 40.2 hours in November and 40.3 hours in December 2022.

Services remained the top employer in December, cornering 57.3% of the total. Agriculture followed with 24.4%, while industry had an 18.3% share.

Security Bank Corp. Chief Economist Robert Dan J. Roces said the record-low unemployment rate came amid steady job generation in the agriculture sector as well as seasonal factors.

“Seasonal hiring in December, improved business climate, and government initiatives, and the absence of typhoons (which sustained employment in agriculture) may also have played a role,” he said in a Viber message. “Job quality also improved, with lower underemployment and potential wage increases.”

For December, the agriculture sector posted an 89.4% employment rate, higher than the 87.9% in November and 87.5% in December last year.

“Historically, agriculture sheds jobs in late [fourth quarter], due to typhoons,” Mr. Roces said.

On a year-on-year basis, the construction sector recorded the biggest increase in employment in December after adding 777,000 to 5.08 million. It was followed by agriculture and forestry (up 715,000) and accommodation and food service (up 498,000).

Meanwhile, annual job losses in December were seen in wholesale and retail trade (down 660,000), administrative and support service (down 250,000), and fishing and aquaculture (down 159,000).

Trade Union Congress of the Philippines Vice-President Luis C. Corral said the government needs to generate more quality jobs to ensure that the employment momentum seen last year continues.

“While we welcome that employment remains high, we fear that the decrease in unemployment is potentially driven by holiday seasonal jobs,” Mr. Corral said in a Viber message.

For his part, Security Bank’s Mr. Roces said a sustained drop in joblessness requires continued economic growth, effective skills development, and addressing underemployment though quality job creation.

“The government should prioritize infrastructure development, upskilling the workforce, promoting business formalization, and tackling underemployment to ensure the labor market’s continued progress,” Mr. Roces said.

XWERKS Motion Review (2024)

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Your gym bag is probably packed with some of the best supplements for building muscle, including protein powder, creatine, and pre-workout. Crucial for boosting energy and strength during a gym session and reducing muscle soreness afterward, you wouldn’t dare train without them. But imagine a single supplement that combines the benefits of all three.  

Enter XWERKS Motion — an innovative supplement formulated to enhance endurance during intense exercise and support a quick post-workout recovery. Sounds too good to be true? We’ll find out in this XWERKS Motion review. 

Our team of personal trainers, CrossFit coaches, nutrition experts, and competitive weightlifters shared their feedback on the formulation, price, taste, and solubility of this one-of-a-kind product. As a registered dietitian nutritionist, I’ll do a deep dive into the ingredients and potential health benefits of XWERKS Motion, so you know if it’s worth adding to your supplement stack.

Medical disclaimer: This article is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. For health advice, contact a licensed healthcare provider.

Key Takeaways

  • XWERKS Motion contains 25 grams of cluster dextrin carbohydrates, which can help you exercise for longer before exhaustion.
  • This formula includes three grams of BCAAs to help promote muscle growth and recovery.
  • Made with electrolytes, XWERKS Motion can also support fluid balance and proper muscle function.



XWERKS Motion


3.6

  • Number of servings: 30 
  • Price per serving: $1.96
  • Amount of BCAAs per serving: Three grams 
  • Calories per serving: 110
  • Flavors: Raspberry Lemonade 
  • Third-party tested: Not at the time of this writing


Check Price

XWERKS Motion Pros

  • XWERKS Motion contains a 2:1:1 BCAA ratio, meaning the amount of leucine is double the amount of isoleucine and valine. This ratio is shown to be the most effective for enhanced exercise performance.
  • This BCAA supplement provides a quick energy source from cluster dextrin carbohydrates, which are easy to digest and absorbed rapidly pre-workout.
  • Dairy and gluten-free, XWERKS Motion is ideal for those with a sensitive digestive system who want to avoid uncomfortable bloating, gas, and stomach cramps.

XWERKS Motion Cons

  • One serving contains 110 calories solely from carbs, which isn’t ideal for those already consuming adequate carbs who don’t want to increase their intake.
  • It includes sucralose, an artificial sweetener that may disrupt healthy gut bacteria and inflammation when consumed on an ongoing basis. 
  • Only one flavor is available (Raspberry Lemonade), which could get old quickly if you’re taking this supplement several days a week.

XWERKS Motion Specs

Price per serving $1.97
Flavors Raspberry Lemonade
Amount of BCAAs per serving 3 grams
BCAA ratio 2:1:1
Amount of l-leucine per serving 1.5 grams (approx)
Amount of l-isoleucine per serving 0.75 grams (approx)
Amount of l-valine per serving 0.75 grams (approx)
Additional ingredients Cluster dextrin carbohydrates, calcium, magnesium, sodium, natural flavors, citric acid, sucralose 
Third-party tested No

XWERKS Motion Rating

Our Breaking Muscle product testing team has tried nearly 20 of the best BCAA supplements, gaining a thorough understanding of what meets customer standards and what falls short. Here’s how our expert testers rated the following categories after trying XWERKS Motion themselves. 

Factor Rating (out of 5)
Price per serving 3.5
Formulation 4.
Available flavors 3
Taste 5
Solubility 5
Side effects 4
Third-party testing 1

XWERKS Motion Review

In this XWERKS Motion review, we’ll explore the product’s cost, formula, flavors, taste, and more. We’ll include honest, reliable feedback straight from our Breaking Muscle expert testers, so you’ll know exactly what to expect from this supplement. With transparency in mind, we include the good and not-so-good aspects of XWERKS Motion to give you the full picture. 

A bag of XWERKS Motion next to a shaker bottle in someone's gym

Price Per Serving

A single bag of XWERKS Motion costs $59 for a one-time purchase. Each bag contains 30 one-scoop servings, and a serving costs $1.96. XWERKS offers the option to subscribe to a 30, 45, or 60-day delivery option for a five percent discount on each bag. With that discount, each order costs $56.05, and the price per serving comes down slightly to $1.87.

In comparison, Transparent Labs BCAA Glutamine costs $1.33 per serving, while Jacked Factory BCAA Powder is available at $0.67 per serving at the time of this writing. XWERKS Motion is on the pricier side, earning this category a 3.5 out of 5, but also contains ingredients not found in most other BCAA supplements. 

Formulation

XWERKS Motion is thoughtfully and originally formulated, earning it a 4 out of 5. It is unlike other BCAA supplements in that it contains 25 grams of cluster dextrin carbohydrates, also known as highly branched cyclic dextrin (HBCD). Cluster dextrin passes through the stomach into the intestines rapidly, where it can be absorbed into the bloodstream and taken up into muscle cells to replenish glycogen content and provide a quick energy source. (1)

A female athlete pouring a scoop of XWERKS Motion into a water bottle
Breaking Muscle editorial member Kate pouring XWERKS Motion into a shaker bottle

Human studies suggest that when used before or during a workout, cluster dextrin carbs may decrease perceived exertion and enhance endurance when compared to maltodextrin and glucose, especially when prior carb intake is low. (1) However, those who eat plenty of carbs may not experience any added benefits when supplementing cluster dextrin.

In addition to carbs, each serving offers three grams of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs). The product contains the BCAA ratio 2:1:1 of leucine, isoleucine, and valine. BCAAs are essential amino acids (EAAs), meaning you must consume them because the body doesn’t synthesize them on its own. Leucine is often thought of as the king of BCAAs because it activates muscle protein synthesis, which is necessary for muscle growth and recovery. (2

RELATED: BCAA Benefits

Other active ingredients include calcium, magnesium, and sodium. During exercise, you lose electrolytes through sweat that need to be replenished. The electrolytes in XWERKS Motion help prevent dehydration and maintain proper muscle function during a workout.

Enhanced with natural flavors, sucralose, and citric acid, this product contains ingredients that add sour and sweet notes. 

Sucralose is an artificial sweetener considered safe when consumed in moderation. Unlike table sugar, most research shows sucralose has little to no effects on blood sugar levels or insulin. (3) However, some animal studies suggest it could disrupt healthy gut bacteria and increase inflammation when consumed long-term, but more human studies are needed. (4)

A hand holding a scoop of XWERKS Motion with the bag in the background
Breaking Muscle team member Kate Meier holding a scoop of XWERKS Motion

Available Flavors

You won’t have any difficulty picking a flavor if you choose to try XWERKS Motion, considering there is only one option available — Raspberry Lemonade. Obviously, if you prefer to stick with one flavor on repeat this won’t be a problem. For those who like to switch things up, the lack of variety may leave you feeling bored, hence the middle-of-the-road rating on flavor. 

Taste

Luckily, the Raspberry Lemonade flavor delivers. Our expert tester was more than pleased with the taste of the raspberry lemonade supplement, rating it an impressive 5 out of 5. She noticed hints of the tart lemonade with a more robust berry flavor overall. The supplement wasn’t too sweet and had a very refreshing taste to it. Our tester even went as far as to say that she could happily sip on this drink all day. 

Solubility

Another winning category of XWERKS Motion is solubility, which our tester rated a perfect 5 out of 5. She didn’t experience any clumping, grittiness, floaties, or difficulty mixing — a feature you’ll want when drinking it at the gym or on the go. Because the cluster dextrin in this product is highly soluble in water, it dissolves easily and forms a smooth, uniform mixture. Several customer reviews on the XWERKS website rave about the product’s superior solubility, mentioning it “blends so smooth” and is “easy to mix.”

Side Effects

Cluster dextrin is believed to be safe for consumption, with no apparent safety concerns. (5) Our product tester didn’t experience any adverse side effects during her use of this product. As for beneficial effects, she didn’t notice any superhuman strength or noticeable bursts of energy, but she did feel good during longer lifting sessions. 

Switching gears, BCAAs are considered safe when consumed in appropriate dosages. It’s best to adhere to the suggested dosage instructions on the product label for optimal safety and effectiveness.

Nevertheless, always consult with your healthcare provider before adding a new dietary supplement to your routine, particularly if you have pre-existing medical conditions or are currently taking prescribed medications. This precaution ensures that the supplement aligns with your individual health needs and won’t pose any risks or interactions. 

All of the above considered, XWERKS Motion gets a 4 out of 5 rating for the lack of side effects from its formulation.

Third-Party Testing

Unfortunately, there’s no mention of third-party testing on the XWERKS Motion product page, which is why we gave it a 1 out of 5. 

We always encourage consumers to consider supplements that are third-party tested, because it serves as a quality control measure, ensuring that products are safe, effective, and meet certain regulatory requirements. Third-party testing enhances transparency and builds consumer trust by verifying that high-quality products contain what’s on the label and don’t include harmful levels of heavy metals or contaminants.

The back of the XWERKS Motion bag showing the nutrition label and product benefits
The nutrition facts and potential benefits of XWERKS Motion

XWERKS Motion vs. XTEND Original BCAA Powder

XWERKS Motion and XTEND Original BCAA powder have both commonalities and differences. To start, both products contain BCAAs and electrolytes to enhance muscle recovery, reduce muscle soreness, and maintain hydration.

However, that’s where their similarities end. While XTEND Original BCAA powder doesn’t contain any carbohydrates, XWERKS Motion contains 25 grams of cluster dextrin carbs for extra energy and prolonged endurance. 

XTEND Original BCAA powder also has a much higher BCAA content of seven grams, compared to the three grams in XWERKS Motion. The Original BCAA powder even contains a whopping three and a half grams of leucine, exceeding the recommended two to three grams per day to maximize muscle-gaining capabilities. (2) The same can’t be said for the leucine content of XWERKS Motion. 



XTEND Original BCAA Powder


4.3

  • Number of servings: 30 to 90
  • Price per serving: Starts at $0.51
  • Amount of BCAAs per serving: Seven grams 
  • Calories per serving: Zero
  • Flavors: Airheads Cherry, Blue Raspberry Ice
  • Third-party tested: NSF and Informed Sport


Check Price

XWERKS Motion Customer Reviews

Customers on the XWERKS website give Motion a 4.4 out of 5-star rating. There are only 35 reviews on the product page. Motion is not available on Amazon at the time of writing.

One happy customer says, “Great taste! No issues with digestion, gives you the fuel needed during most intense workouts.” Another customer says, “It mixes well, I like the flavor, and have no digestive or other issues. Performance-wise I feel great. I feel more energetic during my workouts and that I’m getting more out of them.”

Reviews from customers who were less pleased with the product were written over a year ago, and the formulation and flavors may have changed. One customer says, “I’m not sold on this product. I don’t really notice any difference on the days I take this. Also, it takes a blender to get this stuff mixed! That’s a deal breaker for me.” Other customers complain of the grape flavor, which is no longer available. 

Final Verdict: Is XWERKS Motion Worth It?

XWERKS Motion provides a synergistic blend of cluster dextrin carbs, BCAAs, and electrolytes to support endurance and recovery during and after a workout. Those who enjoy leisurely activity and consume enough carbs to sustain their energy levels may not benefit from this product. 

However, it might be worth it for endurance athletes and bodybuilders with high training loads. Taking XWERKS before, during, or after intense physical activity may reduce perceived effort, extend the time to exhaustion, and decrease muscle soreness.

FAQs

Do you drink BCAA before or after a workout?

You can consume BCAAs pre, post, or intra-workout depending on your fitness goals. Some prefer to take BCAAs before or during a workout to provide their muscles with amino acids to help prevent muscle protein breakdown. Others like to take BCAAs post-workout to support muscle repair and recovery.

Do BCAA supplements work?

If you eat a whole-food diet high in protein, then you likely consume enough amino acids and may not experience further benefits by supplementing them. If you struggle to eat enough protein, BCAAs may support endurance, helping you train at a higher intensity for longer. Additionally, BCAAs may reduce muscle damage and DOMS post-workout.

What are branched-chain amino acids?

BCAAs are a group of three EEAs—leucine, isoleucine, and valine— that must be consumed through the diet. They get their name from their unique molecular structure. While all EAAs are important, BCAAs are thought to play an important role in protein synthesis, muscle recovery, and preventing loss of lean mass.

What are the benefits of BCAA?

BCAAs may provide an extended feeling of energy and delay the onset of muscle fatigue, enabling you to work out longer. Moreover, BCAAs might diminish muscle damage, inflammation, and DOMS post-workout. Lastly, BCAAs may aid in preserving lean muscle mass during periods of fat loss, contributing to weight loss efforts.

How much BCAA should you take?

There are no official recommended daily requirements for BCAAs. The suggested sweet spot for leucine intake is often cited as two to three grams per day to optimize muscle building. (2) Avoid exceeding the recommended serving size on the product label. If you take protein powder or eat a high-protein diet, BCAA supplements likely won’t provide added benefits. 

Research

  1. Wilburn, D., Machek, S., & Ismaeel, A. (2021). Highly Branched Cyclic Dextrin and its Ergogenic Effects in Athletes: A Brief Review. Journal of Exercise and Nutrition, 4(3). https://doi.org/10.53520/jen2021.103100
  2. Plotkin, D. L., Delcastillo, K., Van Every, D. W., Tipton, K. D., Aragon, A. A., & Schoenfeld, B. J. (2021). Isolated Leucine and Branched-Chain Amino Acid Supplementation for Enhancing Muscular Strength and Hypertrophy: A Narrative Review. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 31(3), 292-301. Retrieved Nov 24, 2023, from https://doi.org/10.1123/ijsnem.2020-0356
  3. Ahmad SY, Friel JK, Mackay DS. Effect of sucralose and aspartame on glucose metabolism and gut hormones. Nutr Rev. 2020;78(9):725-746. doi:10.1093/nutrit/nuz099
  4. Bian X, Chi L, Gao B, Tu P, Ru H, Lu K. Gut Microbiome Response to Sucralose and Its Potential Role in Inducing Liver Inflammation in Mice. Front Physiol. 2017;8:487. Published 2017 Jul 24. doi:10.3389/fphys.2017.00487
  5. Choi SS, Danielewska-Nikiel B, Ohdan K, Kojima I, Takata H, Kuriki T. Safety evaluation of highly-branched cyclic dextrin and a 1,4-alpha-glucan branching enzyme from Bacillus stearothermophilus. Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. 2009;55(3):281-290. doi:10.1016/j.yrtph.2009.07.011

Meta is trouncing Snap in Digital ads — here’s why

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In this screengrab, CEO of Snap Inc. Evan Spiegel takes the stage at the virtual Snap Partner Summit 2021 on May 20, 2021 in Los Angeles.

Snap Partner Summit 2021 – Snap Inc | Getty Images

The online ad market is bouncing back. But the spoils are not being evenly shared.

After Meta blew away Wall Street estimates last week in its fourth-quarter earnings report, pushing the stock to a record, smaller rival Snap came up short on Tuesday, sending investors rushing for the exits.

Meta’s ad business, which includes Facebook and Instagram, grew 24% from a year earlier, lifting the company to its fastest rate of expansion since mid-2021. Snap reported an increase of just 5% year-over-year, its sixth straight quarter of single-digit growth or a decline in sales. That’s slower than advertising growth at Google, Amazon and Microsoft in addition to Meta.

Based on investors’ reactions, Snap is headed for one of its worst days on the market since its debut seven years ago. The stock dropped 33% in extended trading to $11.75. Its two biggest one-day declines were a 43% drop in May 2022 and a 39% plunge two months later.

Meta, by contrast, soared 20% on Friday after the company reported a tripling in profit, beat estimates on the top and bottom lines, issued an optimistic forecast and announced that it’s paying a dividend for the first time.

“We’re seeing the bigger companies get bigger and smaller companies are slower to rebound,” said Jasmine Enberg, principal analyst at Insider Intelligence. “Snap is one of those” in the latter camp, she said.

For the first quarter, Snap projected revenue of $1.095 billion to $1.135 billion, which would equal growth of between about 11% and 15%. The middle of the range — $1.115 billion — was just below analysts’ average estimate of $1.117 billion.

Broadly, the digital ad market is recovering from a brutal 2022, when soaring inflation and rising interest rates led brands to reel in spending. Now ad platforms are seeing improvements from a more stable economy along with upcoming events like the 2024 Olympics in Paris and the the presidential election later this year.

As Enberg noted, “the rebound has been uneven” and has benefited Meta and other giant tech companies like Alphabet and Amazon, which all reported advertising growth in the double digits for the fourth quarter.

On Snap’s earnings call on Tuesday, CEO Evan Spiegel faced questions from analysts about why the company is lagging behind competitors.

Rich Greenfield of LightShed Partners asked Spiegel if Snap’s smaller size compared to Meta represents “a fundamental long-term issue.” Spiegel responded by saying that Snap is “certainly one of the largest Internet services,” and while some platforms are bigger, “I think there’s enormous opportunity for us to continue to grow our business.”

Barclays analyst Ross Sandler asked Spiegel, “Why aren’t we seeing more progress and getting that growth rate up to the levels of the broader digital ad industry?”

‘Wish we were moving faster’

UKRAINE – 2023/03/11: In this photo illustration, Temu, LLC logo seen on a smartphone and on a pc screen. (Photo Illustration by Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Sopa Images | Lightrocket | Getty Images

Meta is seeing the benefits, sparked by a surge in spending from Chinese retailers, which are trying to reach the company’s billions of users spread across the globe. Meta has 2.11 billion daily active users, compared with 414 million for Snap.

Spiegel echoed commentary from prior quarters and said Snap is “investing heavily” into machine learning and AI technologies to enhance its online ad platform.

Enberg told CNBC that, based on feedback she’s heard from advertisers, Meta is further ahead in its development. And the company’s size provides an inherent advantage.

“Meta’s platforms are much bigger than Snapchat, meaning that they have more data and users to work with as they’re rebuilding it,” Enberg said. “Snap has clearly made progress, and we saw some of that in its earnings, both this quarter and last quarter, but it seems to be taking a longer time for the company.”

Snap has recently tried to distance itself from the broader social media universe and has pitched itself as more of a messaging company, Enberg said. The company disclosed sales in its Snapchat+ subscription service for the first time and said it had an annualized revenue run rate of $249 million in 2023. The service now has 7 million subscribers, up from 5 million in the previous quarter. Snap debuted the product in 2022 for $3.99 a month.

But revenue from subscriptions is currently minimal. Advertising is still what matters, and “the reality is that it’s competing for the same social dollars,” Enberg said.

“I think the confidence level from investors in Snap is concerning going forward,” she said.

WATCH: Meta is too optimistic on revenue and cost growth in 2024.

Meta is too optimistic on revenue and cost growth in 2024, says Needham's Laura Martin

French cosmetics giant L’Oréal mandates Fridays in the office twice a month

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Workers at French cosmetics giant L’Oréal have been back in the office three days per week for over a year now. But, company brass has decided, that’s no longer enough. As of last week, Fridays are now mandatory office days, twice a month. The company’s 87,000 employees were told of the new rule last month, and it took effect on Thursday, The Sunday Times reported. Leaders hope the new rule “boosts employee collaboration,” per the Times. 

Things weren’t always like this. Back in November 2022, L’Oréal’s USA CEO David Greenberg, like many of his peers, announced that workers had to return to the office three days per week. And Greenberg sweetened the deal: workers at the cosmetic giant’s West Coast headquarters in El Segundo, Calif., would be welcomed back with a personal butler. 

In-person workers at L’Oréal, whose subsidiaries include Kiehl’s, Maybelline, and La Roche-Posay, would—for $5 an hour—be able to hire a concierge for personal chores, the Los Angeles Times reported at the time. This included taking their cars to the gas station, picking up their laundry, or bringing their pets to and from doggy daycare. 

L’Oréal has offered the concierge perk in some capacity since 2009, but after everyone went remote during the pandemic, it took on renewed significance as a bargaining chip in luring workers back to their desks. Ultimately, the company was better positioned than most: Its offices have gyms, restaurants, tons of free products, and even coffee bars that occasionally double as bars, Fortune reported in 2022.

The nearly-free concierge perk is nonetheless the crown jewel. L’Oréal subsidized the cost of those concierges, which CEO Greenberg felt was worth it. “We’re in an industry that’s very much people-driven,” Greenberg told the L.A. Times. “[There is] necessary engagement, creativity, sharing, and learning from each other.”

Among the large companies that similarly enacted return-to-office mandates, like Meta, Salesforce, and Google, only L’Oréal made a genuine effort to sweeten the deal. The others actually worked backwards, taking away the pandemic-era perks workers enjoyed. (Meta in 2022 ended its free laundry and dry cleaning benefit and it also curtailed the cutoff time for its free-meal rule, 6:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.)

Passion, attachment and creativity 

At the World Economic Forum in Davos last month, its global CEO, Nicolas Hieronimus, said that even at three in-office days per week, workers were lacking “passion, attachment and creativity.”

It’s an unusual move, if you ask other business leaders. Over the summer, Steven Roth, the billionaire chairman of Vornado, one of New York City’s biggest commercial landlords, officially deemed Fridays as “dead forever,” and even Mondays are on the chopping block. 

“I thought this would be more stable, but I guess…Friday [is] increasingly winning out in the WFH stakes,” Stanford economist and WFH expert Nick Bloom told Fortune by email in August. “I think it’s part of the bigger push towards coordinated hybrid, whereby we have firms pushing for folks to come in on the same days.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Fridays are consistently the emptiest days in the office. The average worker jumps at the chance to start their weekend a bit early, and even pre-pandemic, the allure of “Summer Fridays” spoke to the general population’s desire for a bit more of a soft entry into Saturday. Add the growing push for four-day workweeks—which generally shave off Fridays first—it’s no wonder that L’Oréal is one of the very few firms to mandate Fridays in particular. 

Not as far as L’Oréal is concerned. One of the reasons L’Oréal “hit the ground running” on returning to the office after the pandemic, Hieronimus went on at Davos, “is that we did not do like many tech companies and say everybody works from home all the time, and now they say: ‘Oh my God, that was a mistake, please come back.’” 

“I think it’s vital to be in the office. It’s about serendipity. It’s about meeting people,” Hieronimus said, adding that remote work is “very bad” for workers’ mental health to boot. In-person work, on the other hand, is “vital for the company, and it’s vital for the employees. It’s also fair to the blue-collar workers that work every day in the factory.” 

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El Salvador President Bukele declares himself winner of election By Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele speaks during the inauguration of the Vijosa pharmaceutical plant in Santa Tecla, El Salvador November 20, 2023. REUTERS/Jose Cabezas/File Photo

By Nelson Renteria and Sarah Kinosian

SAN SALVADOR (Reuters) -President Nayib Bukele on Sunday declared himself winner of El Salvador’s national elections in a landslide, claiming he captured more than 85% of the vote – even though electoral officials have not released any results.

Bukele was the heavy favourite to win another five-year term as voters largely cast aside concerns about erosion of democracy to reward him for a fierce gang crackdown that improved security in the Central American country.

Bukele, 42, said his New Ideas party also captured at least 58 positions in El Salvador’s 60-seat legislative assembly, citing unspecified information that he had access to.

“A record in the entire democratic history of the world,” Bukele said on X, the social media site. “See you at 9pm in front of the National Palace.”

Electoral officials have not commented on the results yet. Polls closed at 5 p.m. (2300 GMT), about two hours before Bukele claimed victory. An exit poll by CID Gallup put Bukele’s support at 87%.

Bukele now appears poised to become the first Salvadoran president in almost a century to be re-elected.

Wildly popular, Bukele has campaigned on the success of his security strategy under which authorities suspended civil liberties to arrest more than 75,000 Salvadorans without charges. The detentions led to a sharp decline in nationwide murder rates and transformed a country of 6.3 million people that was once among the world’s most dangerous.

But some analysts have said the mass incarceration of 1% of the population is not sustainable long-term.

Biden freeze on LNG export projects will drive up emissions, hurt security, critics say

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Sky_Blue

The Biden administration’s pause on new licenses for liquefied natural gas export projects is a “political stunt” that will push emissions higher and hurt global energy security, EQT Corp. (NYSE:EQT) CEO Toby Rice said this week, as

Downtown, Hipgnosis and NMPA rally behind Universal Music Group in its fight with TikTok

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Universal Music Group‘s dispute with TikTok – primarily over the amount of money the video service pays for music licensing – continues to be the talk of Grammy Week. Now multiple other significant music companies are throwing their weight behind UMG’s mission.

Yesterday (February 1), Primary Wave publicly backed Universal’s position, which has seen UMG decline to agree terms with TikTok over a new licensing agreement. As a result, recordings represented by UMG have already started to become unavailable in TikTok’s pre-cleared music library.

(Universal’s music publishing library – which spans to approximately 4 million songs – is expected to become fully unlicensed on TikTok at the end of February, due to a 30-day grace period in UMPG’s agreement with the platform.)

Primary Wave represents music written by icons including Bob Marley, Stevie Nicks, Smokey Robinson, Whitney Houston, Burt Bacharach, and Prince. It said in a statement: “As the world’s leading independent publisher of iconic and legendary music, we applaud Universal Music Group for standing up to TikTok and its blatant disregard for artists and songwriters. The notion that TikTok would try to rationalize willfully underpaying artists because, the platform says, it offers artists ‘promotion’ is a decades-old canard that has no place in any modern music business.

“Artists and songwriters need to be compensated appropriately for their work and protected from unethical uses of AI.  Period.  We’re proud to stand alongside UMG and the artist advocates that have called upon TikTok to appropriately pay and protect the songwriters and artists who are critical to the growth and cultural relevance of the platform.”

Today (February 2), more significant music firms have publicly backed UMG’s position.

Andrew Bergman is CEO of Downtown Music Holdings, which – across publishing administration, recorded music distribution, neighboring rights, and other services – represents more than 5,000 business clients and over 4 million individual creators. As a result, Downtown claims to be “the largest pure-play service provider in the global music industry”. (One key example: Downtown now administers the publishing catalog of Spirit Music Group, which owns over 100,000 songs.)

“It’s time to recalibrate the partnership between the music industry and TikTok to re-balance the ledger.”

Andrew Bergman, Downtown Music Holdings

In a statement issued to MBW in reaction to the Universal/TikTok news, Bergman said: “We strive at Downtown to ensure that artists, songwriters and rights holders are equitably compensated for their creative endeavors.

“Over the last several years, despite the meteoric success of the platform, this has not been the case with TikTok. It’s time to recalibrate the partnership between the music industry and TikTok to re-balance the ledger.”

Elsewhere, the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA) has also reacted to UMG’s dispute with TikTok – in particular the ByteDance platform’s claim that it offers “powerful support” to artists by serving “as a free promotional and discovery vehicle for their talent”.

NMPA President/CEO David Israelite said today: “Music is a driving force behind TikTok’s success and it is extremely unfortunate that TikTok does not seem to value the music creators that fuel its business. We believe songwriters should be valued and compensated fairly, and we believe artificial intelligence should never be used to dilute the value of human creativity.

“Music is a driving force behind TikTok’s success and it is extremely unfortunate that TikTok does not seem to value the music creators that fuel its business.”

David Israelite, NMPA

“We have seen other social-media platforms make the mistake of claiming promotion should substitute for fair compensation. It’s a losing argument and it is wrong.”

(The NMPA has its own interesting history with TikTok, of course. The org signed a multi-year licensing agreement, on behalf of its members, with TikTok/ByteDance in 2020, after publicly threatening to sue the platform for copyright infringement.)

The music biz’s big news from earlier today? Merck Mercuriadis is moving up to Chairman at Hipgnosis Song Management, and is being succeeded as CEO at the company by Ben Katovsky.

Following that announcement, MBW spoke to Mercuriadis, who made clear in an interview – which will be published on MBW  in the coming days – that his “commitment to Hipgnosis Song Management has never been stronger”.

But we also obviously had to ask him for his take on the story of the week: UMG vs. TikTok.

“Every digital music and social media service has to recognize the value of music. Universal has done the right thing here.”

Merck Mercuriadis, Hipgnosis

Mercuriadis said: “TikTok has proven itself to be a great catalyst for the consumption of music. Look at Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, on which Hipgnosis is delighted and privileged to represent the Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie [songwriting cuts]. Rumours has been a top-selling album in recent years, and TikTok has had a huge role to play in that story.

“But Hipgnosis has, since the beginning, been a massive advocate for the fact that we need to change where the songwriter sits in the economic equation. Should TikTok be paying higher rates? Absolutely. Every digital music and social media service has to recognize the value of music.

TikTok has the ability to be a force for good in the consumption of music. Universal has done the right thing here, from the perspective of making sure that the ‘900 pound gorilla’ of our business is setting a tone that is not only in the best interest of music rights-owners, but songwriters specifically.”Music Business Worldwide

Cross Training for Runners: A Guide

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Your running journey is an exhilarating experience, but to truly elevate your performance and safeguard against injuries, the importance of cross training cannot be overstated. Runners often have questions like: how to start running again? Or, how do I improve my mile times? In this guide, we’ll zoom into the world of cross training specifically tailored for runners. Whether you’re a seasoned marathon enthusiast or a recreational jogger, incorporating diverse activities into your training regimen can make a substantial difference. Let’s explore the physical and mental benefits, effective exercises, integration strategies, and the best cross training activities to help you become a better, injury-resistant runner.

Benefits of Cross Training for Runners

Elevating the running experience to new heights, cross training for runners brings a lot of benefits that extend beyond the track, promoting enhanced performance and safeguarding against injuries through strength workouts for runners and other practices.

Injury Prevention

Running places repetitive stress on specific muscle groups and joints, making runners susceptible to overuse injuries. Cross training introduces variety, reducing the risk of overuse injuries by allowing these primary areas to recover while engaging different muscle groups. A well-rounded routine contributes to better overall musculoskeletal health, minimizing the likelihood of common running injuries.

Improved Endurance

While running undoubtedly enhances cardiovascular fitness, cross training further boosts endurance by engaging alternative muscle groups. Activities like cycling and swimming elevate your heart rate while reducing the impact on joints, promoting a more sustainable aerobic capacity. This increased endurance can translate into enhanced performance during your runs.

Enhanced Core Strength

A strong core is the foundation of a runner’s stability and efficiency. Cross training activities such as strength training and yoga target the core muscles, promoting better posture, balance, and overall body alignment. A stable core contributes to improved running form, reducing the risk of compensatory movements that may lead to injuries.

Effective Cross Training Exercises

In this section, we’ll explore some awesome exercises that can make you a better runner. Let’s check out different types of workouts that not only boost your running skills but also keep you fit and strong.

Cardiovascular Activities

Cycling: A Journey to Leg Strength and Cardiovascular Fitness

Explore scenic routes or join a spin class to engage in a low-impact yet highly effective cardiovascular workout. Cycling not only builds leg strength but also significantly enhances overall cardiovascular fitness, offering runners a refreshing alternative to pounding the pavement.

Swimming: Dive into Full-Body Fitness

Dive into the pool for an exceptional full-body workout that elevates cardiovascular endurance without imposing stress on your joints. Swimming engages multiple muscle groups, providing a holistic cardiovascular and strength training benefit that complements your running routine and promotes sustainable fitness.

Rowing: Harnessing Muscular Power and Cardiovascular Excellence

Rowing emerges as a powerhouse in cross training, engaging multiple muscle groups and delivering a dual benefit of cardiovascular conditioning and strength enhancement. Row your way to a stronger, more resilient runner’s physique, achieving both power and endurance.

Strength Training

Bodyweight Exercises: Crafting Functional Strength

Incorporate bodyweight exercises such as squats, lunges, and planks into your cross training routine to build functional strength. These fundamental movements not only target major muscle groups but also enhance overall stability and endurance, translating into improved running performance.

Weight Training: Focus on Major Muscles

Focus your cross training efforts on compound exercises like deadlifts and squats, delving into the realm of weight training to strengthen major muscle groups. This approach not only fortifies your body against injury but also contributes to improved muscle coordination, vital for maintaining running form.

Plyometric Exercises: Elevating Power and Agility

Integrate plyometric exercises like box jumps to unleash explosive movements that enhance power and agility. Plyometrics not only foster a more dynamic range of motion but also improve the efficiency of your muscle contractions, translating into increased running efficiency.

Flexibility Exercises

Yoga for Runners: Embracing Flexibility, Balance, and Mental Focus

Improve flexibility, balance, and mental focus through yoga tailored specifically for runners. This practice not only enhances your range of motion but also cultivates mental resilience, contributing to a more mindful and injury-resistant running experience. You can also incorporate stretches for running as you practice yoga.

Barre Workouts: Ballet-Inspired Grace with Pilates Benefits

Blend elements of ballet, Pilates, and yoga in barre workouts designed for a low-impact, high-benefit routine. Elevate your flexibility, strengthen stabilizing muscles, and foster a mind-body connection that complements your running journey.

Active Recovery: Gentle Restoration for Continued Progress

Incorporate gentle activities like walking or cycling into your cross training repertoire for active recovery. These low-intensity exercises aid in recovery without causing excessive strain, ensuring that your body remains resilient and ready for the next run.

Integration into Running Routine

Balancing running and cross training requires strategic planning. Consider the following tips:

  • Weekly Scheduling: Plan your week with precision by allocating specific days for running, cross training, strength training, flexibility exercises, and well-deserved rest. This structured approach ensures that you reap the benefits of a well-rounded fitness routine without compromising recovery.
  • Pre-Run Warm-Up: Prioritize a dynamic warm-up routine before each run. Engage in exercises like leg swings, high knees, and hip circles to activate key muscle groups, enhancing your running performance and reducing the risk of injuries.
  • Post-Run Cool Down: After completing your run, indulge in a cool-down session that includes static stretches. Target major muscle groups such as hamstrings, quadriceps, and calves to improve flexibility, alleviate muscle tightness, and promote a faster recovery.
  • Cross Training Variety: Experiment with various cross training activities throughout the week. Incorporate cycling, swimming, strength training, or yoga to engage different muscle groups, preventing overuse injuries and enhancing overall fitness.
  • Strength Training Alignment: Integrate strength training on specific days aligned with your running schedule. Focus on exercises that complement your running muscles, such as lunges, squats, and core workouts, to build strength and stability.
  • Flexibility Focus: Dedicate specific days to flexibility-focused exercises. Explore yoga sessions or dedicated stretching routines to enhance your range of motion, mitigate muscle imbalances, and contribute to injury prevention.
  • Rest and Recovery: Acknowledge the importance of rest and recovery in your overall routine. Designate specific days solely for rest or active recovery, allowing your body to heal, rebuild, and prepare for upcoming challenges.

Elevate Your Fitness: Embrace the Power of Cross Training at Chuze Fitness

Cross training is not just a supplement to running; it’s a key element in unlocking your full athletic potential. As you lace up your running shoes, consider the holistic approach to fitness that cross training offers. At Chuze Fitness, we understand the importance of a well-rounded fitness journey. Our friendly, well-equipped facilities provide the perfect environment to incorporate diverse workouts into your routine. Lower your cost, raise your bar, and join us in reinventing the way fitness is experienced. Cross train at Chuze Fitness, where every workout feels like a refreshing journey towards a healthier, stronger you.

 

Sources:

  1. Marathon Handbook. The Ultimate Guide to Cross Training for Runners. https://marathonhandbook.com/cross-training-for-runners/.
  2. The Run Experience. Cross-Training for Runners: Benefits, Workouts & Exercises. https://therunexperience.com/cross-training-for-runners-6-dos-and-donts/.