A craft brewery near me hosts beer yoga sessions – named beer and bend – that they market as the perfect way to end the day.
Is it really? The location is fantastic. I can imagine doing yoga on a lawn overlooking the river as the sun goes down. But adding a beer into the mix?
The concept isn’t about grabbing a beer once you have finished the class, the drinking is actually incorporated into the yoga poses.
I haven’t been to one of these classes so I don’t know how it works but I can’t imagine how you could do warrior pose or downward facing dog with a glass of beer in hand!
Beer yoga isn’t the only example of the increasing tread of connecting fitness with drinking.
A few years ago I competed in a Tough Mudder event, a group event that included challenges such as crawling through mud, climbing up walls and dunking in ice baths. It was physically challenging and involved a lot of training to get fit for the event.
And what was the reward at the end? Every competitor received a free beer once they crossed the finishing line.
I was still drinking when I competed in Tough Mudder and claimed my free beer at the end but, because I wasn’t a beer drinker, I gave mine to a teammate.
I’m sure that if there had been the option for a glass of wine I would have had no hesitation in taking it.
While I never drank while exercising – beer yoga style – I very much managed my drinking around my fitness.
Around that time I was doing a lot of running and competing in 10km and half marathon events.
I would try not to drink in the week before a race (often I broke that rule) but once the event was over, a glass of wine later in the day would be my reward.
And because I had been ‘so good’ in abstaining from alcohol in the lead up to the race I wouldn’t stop at one glass.
It astounds me when I look back that while exercise was giving me the tangible reward of feeling so much better physically and mentally, I still thought I needed to reward myself with glass – or more accurately a bottle – of wine afterwards.
The irony was that I was creating all these positive endorphins through exercise, and then numbing out with alcohol.
While I knew that alcohol was impairing my fitness, the idea of not drinking wasn’t an option.
A run or a workout after a night of drinking was always much harder. I would find my breathing would be more laboured and I wouldn’t be able to do as much as I could after a non-drinking night, but I wasn’t prepared to put down the bottle as it was my ‘reward’ for being good.
The increasing popularity of things such as beer yoga or spin and sip (a spin cycling class followed by a glass of wine), further reinforces this idea that alcohol is a treat for meeting your exercise goals.
We are being cleverly marketed to and the message is ‘you deserve this, you’ve worked hard’.
But what I’ve realised is that the real rewards are the benefits from the fitness activities we enjoy and the feel-good hormones that are produced.
If you look at the science of what alcohol does to the body and the stresses it causes in terms of trying to metabolise any alcohol that is in your system, it’s clear that drinking impairs the benefits of alcohol, it doesn’t add to it.
So I’m calling BS on beer and bend and seeing it for what it is – a clever way for a craft brewery company to tap into the wellbeing space by convincing us that booze will benefit our workouts.
Maybe I’ll just stick to water and get my buzz from crossing the finishing line instead!
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