When the founders of GRIT BXNG opened their flashy new studio in New York City over the summer, they wanted it to be a one-stop shop for customers to crush it during an intense workout, then cool down with a refreshing cocktail.
“It’s a place to hang after class with an old friend, a place to meet new friends, or get tips from your trainer in a fun upbeat atmosphere,” says GRIT BXNG co-founder Bill Zanker.
The rise in gyms serving after workout drinks
Plenty of gyms and boutique fitness studios have been offering smoothies to patrons post-sweat sesh for years, but the new trend on the rise is the after workout drink.
“People are looking for a full service lifestyle,” says Zanker. “They want to combine working out and socializing.”
Zanker says GRIT’s classes—a three-module 50-minute workout combining benches, boxing bags, and treadmills—are almost always sold out.
“We combine that insane workout with a million dollar light and sound show inspired by the best night clubs in Europe,” he says. (It makes sense that rapper Pitbull is one of their investors.)
Part of the reason why you’ll likely see more studios start to shake up cocktails after class is the competitive landscape of the boutique fitness world. There are so many studios, from HIIT to boxing to yoga, on almost every street corner in every major city, that owners need to start doing anything they can to stand out from the crowd in order to get customers into their doors.
It started out with studios promoting their swag for sale, then it was getting people to hang out at the juice bar—now it’s branding themselves as an after-workout happy hour hotspot, says Paul O’Reilly-Hyland, CEO of “fitness passport” Zeamo.
“Studios have to differentiate themselves more and more,” says O’Reilly-Hyland. “They’re trying to create a sense of community.”
Another example of the trend in action: Yoga studios have added “Brewga” classes to their schedules, where students get to enjoy a pint of beer after getting their “Ohm” on.
“We’re seeing some pretty off-the-wall concepts,” says O’Reilly-Hyland.
How to drink responsibly post-workout
Of course, you might be thinking that it’s counterintuitive to down a marg or two after you just burned off all those calories. And it’s true that some drinks are certainly better than others post-workout.
“You’d want to stay away from beer,” says Joey Kane, certified strength and conditioning specialist in Seattle. “It typically has a lot more calories than most hard liquor-based cocktails.” (Zanker notes that GRIT’s margarita with electrolytes and kale martini are the two most popular alcoholic beverages on the menu at the studio’s bar.)
If you are going to drink after a workout, stick to one drink because alcohol can hinder muscle protein synthesis, says Kane. And if you’re going to pair your cocktail with a snack, choose something that’s high in protein rather than carbs so you don’t totally counteract all the work you did, suggests Kane.
“Most current research has shown that consuming alcohol post-workout with protein is a little better than with carbs,” he says. Carbs slow down muscle protein synthesis more than protein does.
And don’t forget to hydrate while you imbibe. Kane suggests drinking three glasses of water for every one cocktail you have.
“If you have more than one drink, it’s a good idea to up your water intake to two glasses of water per cocktail,” says Kane.
What if you’re sober?
Whether you’re in the middle of a Dry January or you live a sober lifestyle year-round, there’s still a place for you. The bartenders at GRIT, for example, can make you a mocktail. Zanker points out the “Dr. Mushroom mocktail” as an example, which is made with lion’s mane mushroom and exclusive to the studio.
Beyond the post-workout cocktail
O’Reilly-Hyland isn’t totally sold that this is a trend that will stick around long-term, since fitness and alcohol don’t traditionally go hand-in-hand. What he does see as the future of building community: retreats.
“If you’re a yoga enthusiast and you have the potential to go on a yoga retreat, that completely fits in,” he says. “We’re in an experience economy, and retreats help build that community in a very on-brand way.”