How to hydrate after class

Words: Gemma Dawkins

It’s first thing Monday morning, and you’re pretty sure this is the third time your barre instructor has alleged that this is your ‘last eight’ pulses. Is she confused about what ‘last’ means? The only thing getting you through – apart from the stretch and savasana you know is coming – is the thought of beelining from barre to barista. Look, we get it. That cup of joe is definitely a more exciting prospect than a tall glass of water, and you deserve it for getting up early! But what is it that our bodies actually need after an hour of barre-burning? We did some research. Pour yourself a cup of…well, maybe read this before you decide what.

  1. Do we serve water at this barre?

Um, yes. This is not Coyote Ugly. Before we even get to re-hydrating after class, there’s this important step: keep your fluids up while you’re exercising, and that’s half the battle won. Whether you’re squat-jumping your way through a high-intensity Barre Cardio class or shaking through an energy-burning Barre Tone, your body will be working up a sweat, and it’s important to keep replacing those fluids. This not only helps to prevent dehydration at the end of your workout, but also improves your endurance and prevents fatigue, so you’ll actually get more out of your class. Just remember to sip, not gulp – a mid-class stitch is not a fun way to start the day.

  1. Try a lovely bunch of coconut (water)

You may have heard of electrolytes, which are responsible for “maintaining the balance of fluids between the intracellular (inside the cell) and extracellular (outside the cell) environments. This balance is critically important for things like hydration, nerve impulses, muscle function, and pH level.” A deficiency in certain electrolytes can cause muscle cramping or weakness, which definitely doesn’t help when you’re mid-plie. This is why you’ll see gym lovers chugging down sports drinks, which are loaded up with electrolytes to top you up after a tough session. Unfortunately, those sports drinks are also highly processed, full of added sugars and flavourings, and about as far from mother nature as you can get. Luckily, electrolytes do grow on trees: in the form of coconuts. Yep, natural coconut water (beware of coconut ‘flavoured’ water or coconut juice) contains five key electrolytes: sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. In fact, a serve of coconut water contains more potassium than a banana, which aids rehydration without the added high fructose corn syrup which is likely to lead to a 3pm sugar crash. We love the Nakula brand.

  1. Got a juice habit?

If you just can’t face the prospect of flavourless water and find yourself reaching for a post-class juice, hold that thought. Juices do rehydrate (only because of their water content!), but sadly the juicing process tends to strip a lot of the nutrients from the fruit and veggies you’re pulping. This leaves you with a high-fructose drink which packs a calorific punch but won’t satisfy you for long – in fact, experts say that “fructose fools our brains into thinking we are still hungry – causing us to overeat – and is addictive, making us crave more.” Eeek! Before you panic, there’s a simple swap: go for a smoothie rather than a juice. Smoothies blend the whole fruit or vegetable rather than stripping the fibre and nutrients, but they’re still full of flavour. For maximum hydration, go for a water or coconut water based smoothie rather than a milk base, and try to pack in some watery veggies like cucumber, celery and spinach (it’s 92% water!) As a bonus, your smoothie will fill you up, so it makes a great breakie on the go.

  1. Tea time

Cold-climate dweller? No matter how sweaty you get in class, if you’re rugging up to leave the studio you probably don’t feel like downing a green smoothie on ice. Here’s where coffee’s cousin, the humble herbal tea, comes in. Packing more flavour and anti-oxidants than a water, and a whole lot more inviting on a chilly morning, herbal teas have a much lower caffeine content than regular tea or coffee. This makes them way more friendly to your dehydrated bod. We love ginger, peppermint and chrysanthemum varieties, but the list is endless.

Once you’ve topped up your water levels and sipped a few electrolytes, then yes – it’s finally coffee time. Double shot, please!