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Rest Days & The Myth of "No Pain, No Gain"

Updated: Apr 21

MYTH: “Rest is for the weak”

MYTH: “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger”

MYTH: “It’s the days when the body aches, desire is low, you feel tired & weak…those are the days when champions train.”

Statements like these are meant to motivate people, but they go against my belief as an acrobat AND as a personal trainer. “Champions” (RE: Olympians) have teams of professional trainers and health professionals by their side and I don’t believe they would let them train when they are exhausted and weak. That sounds like a recipe for injury to me.

For us regular folks without our own personal team of health professionals, how do we know when to train and when to rest? We need to listen to our bodies and I have learned to err on the side of caution.

· For exercise: Certainly you have noticed how your muscles are sore following a good workout. Trainers refer to this as DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness). This occurs because the weightlifting process creates micro-tears in the muscle, which is good because the muscle fiber that grows to repair the tear makes the muscle BIGGER and STRONGER. This repair process occurs during rest days. Not a believer in rest days? Then you are just continually tearing down the muscle, not giving it a chance to rebuild or repair, and are missing an essential part of the strength-building process. Take your rest days people…and listen to your body!

· For circus: If you have been in my classes, you have likely heard me say: “Discomfort is normal, pain is not.” It’s uncomfortable when lay your sacrum (low back) on the hoop? That’s normal, you are lying on a metal bar. On the other hand: do you have tendonitis you are ignoring? Or it’s incredibly painful when you <insert movement> on the <insert apparatus>? Please STOP. Most things simply come in due time (with practice), but don’t push it and listen to your body!

· On injury rehabilitation: If you have been injured, please seek out a good physical therapist and follow their guidelines to a T. If you are doing more than you are cleared for, you could make your injury worse. On one hand, if your P.T. says you are fine but you don’t feel fine, get a second opinion, and a third if needed! Advocate for yourself and listen to your body!

However, there ARE things you can do on your days off to help you get (or stay) in shape and/or to become a better acrobat:

· Cross-train. Did aerials one day? Go for a bike ride the next!

· Train “around” injuries. For example: Knee giving you grief? Train your upper body and core instead! This is how I came out of three knee surgeries in killer shape.

· Foam Roll any day and every day!

· Stretch! Working on flexibility is a great way to still makes gains on rest days.

· Take up a self care routine, or use the time off to assess (or re-assess) goals and where you are with them.

It may take some time to learn how to really listen to what your body is telling you but you will be better off for it once you get the hang of it. So let go of the guilt you have surrounding rest days, and enjoy them! XOXO, Mindy

Article by Mindy Cochran. Mindy is the founder of Kalispell's Levitation Nation Aerial Studio, where the catch phrase "fitness is fun" is embodied alongside a culture of movement & women empowerment. Mindy is also a columnist for "Montana Woman Magazine." Her column "The Real Levitation Experience" shares expertise for elevating health and wellness that she has acquired through her certifications as a personal trainer, nutrition coach, and life coach. For more about Mindy, please visit:

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