Everything You Need To Know About Recovery, Sydney’s Biggest Fitness Trend

By Victoria Cotman
22nd Apr 2019

Recovery Fitness | Urban List Sydney

You may or may not be aware that life is stressful (what?), and you may or may not be (but definitely are) in need of a way to manage that stress. To recover from it, if you will.

Enter recovery, the health trend that’s leapt out of the private training centres of professional athletes and into the lives of you, me, and that one person in your office who is always sick.

While recovery might sound like a midnight Maccas run after an evening of debauchery, there’s a little more going on behind the doors of the sleek wellness centres popping up all around Sydney. To help explain, we chatted to Ben Lucas, Director of Flow Revive, and Hamish Charlton, Founder of Cultivate Recovery (while wearing NormaTec boots, of course).

Here’s your speedy recovery run down.

What Is Recovery?

Recovery is the gentle art of recuperating from the strain of work, home, life and how hard you’re going at the gym. Its purpose is to help you carry on better and stronger than before and not burn out in a blazing flame of glory and exhaustion.

To put it in Lucas’ words, “Recovery is taking time out for yourself, focusing on the act of self-care.”

Or, if you want to get nerdy about it, Charlton describes it as, “The ability to return your body to some level of homeostasis (equilibrium)… to create adaptation to stress.”

Ah, sweet, sweet homeostasis. That’s the dream.

Why Haven’t I Tried This Magic Before?

Well, until recently, recovery was only for professional sportspeople, leaving very few options for non-professionals to de-stress and speed up their healing between gym sessions, or those long hours hunched over your desk, staring closely into the bright lights of your MacBook.

“All this stuff is just as beneficial to an everyday person because they probably have more stress on their life,” Charlton says, “There needs to be something that someone can do to recover from training [other] than massage, there’s got to be a cheaper option, there’s got to be something you can add in three times a week.”

How Do I Recover?

Float Therapy

Suspended in super buoyant 40% Epsom salt water, you can fully let go and relax your body and mind. If you manage it, your brain will reach theta waves, meaning one hour in a float tank is worth four hours of sleep or some very, very deep meditation.

Like other mindfulness activities, though, it’s definitely a practice, “Because it’s a meditative type thing, the first float’s hard,” says Lucas. “It’s one of those things that you need to do a few times before your body gets it.”


Rocking a solid AstroBoy look, NormaTec is a pair of thigh-high boots that zip up your legs, then inflate with air to massage out muscular strain and increase circulation. Some centres even have a set that wrap around your hips to get into the spot that always yells at you after squats.

Infrared Sauna

Not your grandma’s sauna, infrared saunas penetrate (only acceptable use of the word) your skin to create heat in your body so you can get your sweat on. Because your core temperature is being raised, the overall temperature of the sauna is lower, meaning you can hang out longer.

Oxygen Therapy

Lie inside a lovely tube (don’t worry, you can see out of it) and experience the bliss of taking on more oxygen as the barometric pressure is raised and the environment around you stabilises.

Hot tip for Charlton: “Getting more oxygen to the brain is going to help someone feel more refreshed after.” So if fatigue is your issue, this might just be your version of heaven.

Spot Cryo

Localised “spot treatments” of cryotherapy reduce inflammation, swelling and pain in specific areas, which is very handy if your joints have decided they don’t like you.

You can also live your Elsa of Frozen fantasy by getting “Frotox”—a cryo facial that freezes your face to shrink pores and increase blood circulation.

What Else Should I Know About Recovery?

Both Lucas and Charlton agree that recovery therapies have a cumulative effect, the more you do them, the better you feel.

“That you can do it once a month and that’s going to get results?” says Lucas. “That’s the same as working out once a month, you’re not going to get results from that.”

And the results, he says, are everything. “When you feel more relaxed, you work better, you’re better at home with your family, you sleep better, you’re calmer.”

“Your goal is to give yourself enough stress to cause the right amount of adaptation so you can keep slowly, consistently, moving forward,” adds Charlton.

Where Can I Recover?

Cultivate Recovery, Darlinghurst

Flow Revive, Paddington

Koa Recovery, Waterloo

Feel like sweating it out? Here are a few of Sydney's toughest workouts

Image credit: Rob and Julia Campbell. 

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