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      activelife USA Blog

      Finally, A Revitalizing Nights Sleep

      Pillow - Finally, A Revitalizing Nights Sleep

      Written by: Laura Oakland 

      Woman sleeping on the BLACKROLL Recovery Pillow

      A revitalizing night’s sleep might be right under your head—or your ear, depending on your favorite sleeping position. Selecting a pillow that matches the way you sleep can dramatically improve the quality of your slumber, especially if you have special considerations like pain in your neck or back, sleep apnea, or even chronic insomnia.

      As someone who has suffered with insomnia, I can tell you that it’s no walk in the park. In fact, it makes you so physically and mentally drained that the last thing you want to do when the sun comes up is walk anywhere at all. I tried everything to cure myself of insomnia, even going so far as to use over-the-counter medicines that just made me drowsy during the day. It took me a long time to realize that one of the main causes of my chronic lack of sleep was my out of date bed and pillows.

      Women sleeping on a regular pillow versus the BLACKROLL Recovery Pillow

      Few of us ever think about our pillow being the thing that stops us from falling into a deep, rejuvenating sleep. But in fact, supplying your body with the right cushioning is one of the most critical components to a successful rest. Nothing feels better than having the correct height and softness beneath you to rest an achy, weary, over-thinking head on. The correct pillow can even aid in alleviating painful back and neck conditions.

      But how do you find the right pillow? It’s easy to walk into a store like Bed, Bath and & Beyond and just grab a new one from one of their overflowing bins of pillows. But does it suit your real needs? Is it the right level of softness or firmness, the right height, the right material? Will it cause you to sweat at night, leading to poor sleep or even acne? There are so many things to consider, it can be overwhelming.

      BLACKROLL Recovery Pillow

      Thankfully, I found a pillow that took the guess-work out of making the right choice. The BLACKROLL RECOVERY PILLOW is specially designed to meet a huge variety of sleeping needs. Its innovative design starts on the surface, featuring an ergonomic shape suitable for side sleepers, back sleepers, or belly sleepers. On the inside, rather than cotton filling, which loses its shape and becomes flat over time, it features breathable memory-foam that offers support to the head and neck. It even prevents you from becoming overly heated during the night, because of the many ventilation channels and the cotton cover (which can also be taken off and washed repeatedly, meaning you don’t even need a pillow case.)

      BLACKROLL Recovery Pillow

      One of the most beneficial features of the RECOVERY PILLOW is the fact that it’s even perfect for travel. Have you ever tried to fit your bed pillow into your carry-on? It’s almost impossible, and nothing ruins a perfectly enjoyable vacation like not being able to get a good night’s sleep on the plane or uncomfortable hotel bed. Thankfully, the RECOVERY PILLOW can actually be condensed, rolled up, and slid into its own travel bag. Just place it in your carry-on luggage and prepare to finally experience the restful sleep on your long flight that you always need.

      BLACKROLL Recovery Pillow rolled up for travel use.

      I’m happy to report that my insomnia is now a thing of the past. The BLACKROLL RECOVERY PILLOW has completely transformed my nighttime routine. I no longer lie in bed, tossing and turning, dreading the sun coming up. Now, my head hits the pillow, and within minutes I fall into a deep, restful sleep. I wake up the next day feeling rejuvenated, invigorated, and ready to take on whatever challenges I face that day, knowing that my comfortable bed is waiting for me that very night.

      Woman sleeping on BLACKROLL Recovery Pillow

      A Runners Recovery Plan

      Clothing - A Runners Recovery Plan

      Written by: Jackie Leressa 

      Women on running track getting ready to race.

      Human beings are built to run long distances. When it comes to long distance or endurance running, humans can outrun most animals. It’s true! We’re not all built for speed, but the fact that we sweat means we stay cool when running in the heat. We have spring-like ligaments and tendons in our feet and legs that are crucial for running, and our short toes make us incredibly efficient.  In any long distance race, we could outrun most mammals in terms of longevity and distance.

      This probably shocks you, because for the average modern person, running can hurt. It’s true that human beings evolved to be excellent runners, but those sure-footed ancestors of ours also didn’t have couches, wonderfully comfortable beds, or Netflix. The fact of the matter is, running uses parts of our bodies that the average person may not use much daily. Regular running, even for seasoned athletes, can cause sore ankles and feet, stiff thighs and calves, and even an aching back. Fortunately for all of us, there are ways to stop those painful side effects of a great run. It’s all about recovery.

      Women on running track with an injured knee on the left hand side, rubbing her knee, and on the right hand side rolling her foot on the BLACKROLL Mini Foam Roller.

      It can be easy to forget about the important relationship between running and recovery. Many runners build up extensive training plans, thinking about their goals for speed, time and distance. But not everyone remembers the equally important recovery plan. Elite runners or runners training for marathons might spend 1 to 4 hours a day on recovery!

      The foundation of your recovery plan should be rehydration and refueling. You need to rehydrate your body within 10 to 15 minutes of completing your run. If you were sweating profusely, replacing your fluid loss is crucial. You also need to refuel. Even if you don’t immediately feel hungry after a run, your body is craving protein and carbohydrates. That doesn’t mean you should just reach for the closest candy bar, though. Look for foods with a good balance of carbs and protein-like a bagel with peanut butter or yogurt and granola.

      Now that you have those steps down, it’s time to start thinking about your stretching and your muscles. You need to start stretching within 25 to 30 minutes of finishing your run. It’s the only way to increase your running performance and stay healthy and fit for the long term. You should focus on the major muscle groups in your lower body-your calves, hamstrings, glutes and hips. You can optimize your post-run stretching and save time by using a foam roller and a stretchy loop band. I recommend the RUNNING BOX from BLACKROLL. It’s all the tools you need for post-run recovery, packaged in one easy- to-carry bag.

      Women rubbing her back in pain on the left, and using the BLACKROLL Loop Band for thigh exercises and the BLACKROLL Slim foam roller on her to roll out her glutes.

      The RUNNING BOX takes the guesswork out of recovery, stretching and injury prevention. The MINI FLOW is a small textured roller, so it’s perfect for increasing blood flow and oxygenation to your muscles through rolling and massage. The SLIM is a fascia roller designed for alleviating calf and glute soreness. And the LOOP BAND makes performing post-run squats for intense muscle-building quick and easy. It also comes with training booklets and a free app that shows you detailed exercises and stretches so you can develop your own post-run recovery plan.

      BLACKROLL Running Box with the BLACKROLL Slim, BLACKROLL Loop Band, and the BLACKROLL Mini foam roller, all packed in the BLACKROLL Gym Bag.

      Finally, remember that a well-balanced meal two to three hours after your run is going to give your body the final push into full recovery. At this point, your body needs more than fluids and a light snack. Your muscles require something substantial, be it breakfast, lunch or dinner. Always try to plan your daily runs into a timeframe allowing you to eat a hearty meal soon after.

      Thankfully, your recovery plan doesn’t have be a chore. You’re a runner and that means you’re performing the work your body was made to do! After you’ve built your recovery schedule, and you’ve invested in the right BLACKROLL running tools, remember to treat yourself to something fun and relaxing. Massages, Epsom salt baths, even a luxurious nap can all help you achieve your running and exercise goals. Have fun with it!

      ActiveLife Activist: Olga Henry

      Person - ActiveLife Activist: Olga Henry

      Olga Henry, Slackliner, smiling at camera next to line.

      Olga Henry
      Slackliner, Guinness World Record Holder X2, and ActiveLife Activist

      1) Tell us a little bit about yourself and your fitness background.

      I am a slackliner and I’ve been doing this sport for about 5 years. I don’t have any additional background in fitness or gymnastics. 

      Olga Henry slacklining on her back, in the air.

      2) What has been your biggest client success story? Why do you think it was a success?

      I am my own coach and a client.

      For me personally the battle is to keep me healthy and pain free since tricklining (the kind of slacklining I do) is a high impact sport.

      Doing massages and exercises besides actual training is a must. 

      3) Talk about the biggest failure you've had. What did you learn from it?

      In my training I get an immediate feedback whether I do a trick correctly or not. I land it or I fall and get slapped by a line.

      So the biggest failure would be to get scared, not to throw a trick correctly and then deal with the circumstances.

      Also, a failure would be not to throw a trick you want to learn. It actually feels like a bigger failure to me. 

      Olga Henry slacklining, in the air, upside down.

      4) What would you do differently if you were starting in your industry now?

      I would be 7 years old. Yeah, in our sport kids progress like crazy.

      But since I can’t change that I wouldn’t change anything. I think I’m doing as much as I can. 

      5) Which people or books have had the most influence on in your life and why?

      I really like discovering “Flow”. If you are not familiar you should get it.

      Steven Kotler wrote a book about it. It really helps to understand how not to have fear.

      For me it’s the biggest barrier I have to go through while training. 

      Olga Henry standing on slack line.

      6) What weekend hobbies do you enjoy? 

      I pretty much don’t do anything besides slacklining.

      Even if I do photo shoots or record funny videos they are all about slacklining.

      Sometimes if I’m injured and I can’t train I go running if I can. I like running uphill. I

      also like taking long walks or watch my boyfriend play disk golf. He is a slackliner as well but it’s one of his hobbies. 

      Olga Henry balancing on a tire.

      7) Whats your favorite movie?

      I really like comedies or just good movies.

      You know that feeling when you just watched a good movie? I watch movies on planes, it’s the only way for me to get through long flights. 

      8) Whats your favorite food?

       I really like fish and sea food in general. I can eat it all day long!

      9) What would people be surprised to know about you?

      That I started slacklining when I was 32 years old.

      People normally don’t start a new sport from ground zero at that age. I did and I’m really happy about it.

      It’s never too late to find your passion and start training. That’s why I want to inspire others to do the same. I have two Guinness Records now in slacklining and I really enjoy training and progressing. 

      Olga Henry holding her 2x Guinness World Record awards for slacklining.
      10) What's your favorite part about being an ActiveLife Activist? 

      I like to get to test different creative one of a kind things!

      I love supporting my body to stay healthy and I experiment with new techniques and exercises.

      So for me, getting a package from ActiveLife is like getting a new toy for a kid. 

      Check out Olgas website and info, here:

      Olga Henry using the BLACKROLL BOOSTER foam roller on her thigh.

      I Remember The Very First Time I Booked A 60 Minute Massage

      Person getting back massage.

      Written by Caren White

      I remember the very first time I booked a 60 minute massage. I had started my new job a few weeks earlier, and every morning and evening I was commuting well over an hour to and from the office. I knew how long 60 minutes felt like in the car and I was more than ready to spend the same amount of time in the capable hands of a licensed massage therapist! The daily commute and eight hours in front of my computer everyday was really taking a toll on the muscles in my neck, shoulders, lower back and even my hips! Every day, I felt like I woke up with more kinks in my body than when I went to sleep. This is going to be fantastic, I thought to myself after hanging up the phone with the massage clinic.

      Person getting a back massage by massage therapist

      And it was! I felt so great after my 60 minute massage that I told myself it was well worth the $100 spent. I left the massage clinic feeling like I was floating to the car. I sang along to the radio the whole car ride home (which I never do during my daily commute, being way too cranky) and woke up the next morning still feeling like a hundred bucks.

      But here’s where things got complicated. The next week, I was fully ready to release those bodily kinks again. I laid down another $100 and laid right back down on that massage table. And the next week…and the next. By the next month when I examined my budget and expenses, it hit me: I had spent over $500 in massages (and tips) that month.

      I couldn’t help it. I was addicted to feeling those bodily aches and pains release through my weekly massage. The daily commute, too much time at my computer, and not sleeping well left my body feeling sore, tired and weakened. But there was no way I could afford to get weekly massages anymore! There has to be a better way, I told myself.

      So I began to do my research about why the particular type of massage I was getting felt so good! And why the effects from my massage didn’t stop when I got off the table. I felt great for days after getting a massage. And that’s how I first learned about fascia and foam rolling.

      Image of back skeletal fascia tissue in red

      Fascia is the biological fabric that holds our bodies together. It’s an interconnected web of thin, strong, elastic connective tissue existing between the layers of muscle fibres, between muscles, around organs. It’s vast—covering every nerve ending, muscle and organ of the body-and it’s a MAJOR player in the way our bodies move, react and recover. I had assumed that the deep tissue massages I had gotten so addicted to were just really intense muscle rubs. But I was so wrong. Every time I got a deep tissue massage, I was actually experiencing something called Myofascial Release. This technique involves applying gentle, sustained pressure into the connective fascia. This in turn releases restricted areas of the fascia (remember those ‘kinks’ I woke up with everyday?) and increases mobility and rang of motion.

      There’s a lot more to the science of fascia and Myofascial Release. But basically, I learned two things. One, my massage therapist is an incredibly gifted, talented and wonderful person and I owe her a fruit basket and a Thank You card. Two, I don’t actually need to pay $100 an hour for myofascial release. I can do it at home (every single day!) with a $40 foam roller that can be used over and over again. In fact, there are affordable foam rollers for every part of your body! And they can be used at home, in the gym—even in my office on my break.

      Woman using the BLACKROLL Standard Foam Roller in black to foam roll thighs

      And foam rolling is simple. It couldn’t be more inexpensive, more easy to learn or more low-tech. Let’s just talk about my lower back for a minute. My lower back hurt daily when I finished my daily commute. I just couldn’t understand why. I’m not happy to admit it, but I spend 11 to 12 of my waking hours every day just sitting down. Sitting in the car, sitting at my computer, and then usually sitting on the couch for an hour or two in the evening after hitting the gym and the grocery store. You would think that all that sitting would keep my back relaxed. But I couldn’t be more wrong. The human body isn’t made to sit all day! Our bodies are designed to live like cave men. Hunting, gathering, running and climbing for survival. When we spend the whole day sitting down, the fascia in our bodies tighten up. And as I already explained, the fascia covers everything- including your lower back. Hence, my lower back felt like a small army was walking across it daily, planting land mines of tiny, tight little fascial knots. Land mines that seemed to explode when I rolled out of bed the next morning.

      Now, I’m happy to admit that not only am I not rolling out of bed in the morning, I’m springing out of it! Ok, maybe not everyday because Monday mornings are still tough. But I can tell you that after a week of using a foam roller for myofascial release, I was definitely a much more chipper morning person. The foam roller I use for my lower back in the BLACKROLL STANDARD ROLL. It’s cheaper than a massage therapist, I use it for 20 minutes a day, and my lower back has never felt better.

      Woman using BLACKROLL Mini Foam Roller in black to roll her forearm at the gym

      I’ve even been foam rolling in my office. I keep a BLACKROLL MINI and MICRO ROLL in my desk drawers and when I’m talking on the phone, I keep it on speaker and use them on my neck, face and shoulders. I’ve even started using them on my wrists because foam rolling may reduce your chances of getting painful cramps prolonged typing (again, it’s all about that myofascial release to keep your body limber). At first I was getting a lot of strange looks from my coworkers (I see you Debbie from Accounting) but I’m happy to report that the foam rolling trend is spreading and I’m not the only one picking up the habit!

      So, if you’re like me and you spend too much time in the car, too much time at the computer, too much time sitting down—or if you’re just addicted to getting massages and spending waaaay too much money—now is the time to try foam rolling. You don’t have to spend $100 an hour anymore. You can spend $40 on one foam roller and lifetime of happiness.

      ActiveLife Activist: Justin Nucum

      Person - ActiveLife Activist: Justin NucumJustin Nucum
      Obstacle Course Race Enthusiast, Coach and ActiveLife Activist

      1) Tell us a little bit about yourself and your fitness background.

      I was born and raised in Guam so I love tropical weather and being outdoors.

      Growing up, I was into playing basketball and volleyball. 

      After high school, I started venturing off into different sports: Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Crossfit and Olympic Weight Lifting. 

      During college, I was so intrigued by Ninja Warrior, which was originally from Japan, and I wanted to try these obstacles for myself.

      However, at that time, I could not find a gym or a place where I would be able to train for such events.

      The options that I found were to either: build my own obstacles or become a member of multiple gyms that had different types of equipment.

      As my college senior project, I used this idea of putting all of these workouts and sports into one place creating a hybrid type of training for hybrid athletes.

      Today, it is now known as Hardkour Performance.

      Clothing - ActiveLife Activist: Justin Nucum

      2) What has been your biggest client success story? Why do you think it was a success?

      My biggest client success story would have to be Annaliese A., who is originally from Colorado.

      She dropped into one of my intro classes at a rock climbing gym and was determined to do an obstacle course race.

      Her dedication, hard work and ability to absorb and just learn everything from scratch is amazing.

      With 4 months of training and trusting the process, she competed on her first ever Spartan Race and ranked in the top 10 at one of the hardest venues nationally.

      Now, she will be competing at North American Championships in West Virginia in August (which is only her second race!) 

      3) Talk about the biggest failure you've had. What did you learn from it?

      Biggest failure would have to be losing friends in the process of growing the business.

      Everyday I learn something new and it is a rollercoaster of emotions day in and day out. 

      My biggest take away from this is that you start to learn who really supports you and who doesn't.

      There always have been people wanting to simply benefit from either me or the business. 

      Person - ActiveLife Activist: Justin Nucum

      4) What would you do differently if you were starting in your industry now?

      If I were starting in my industry now, I would start smaller than I did.

      I would do as much as I can on my own and then expand out.

      But even knowing what I know now, I would probably do the same process and learn from it.

      5) Which people or books have had the most influence on in your life and why?

      My mentors and listening to podcasts' of Gary Vaynerchuk and Andy Frisella have been very influential in my entrepreneurial life.

      Like I mentioned in the earlier questions, it is a rollercoaster of emotions each day. You never know what will happen.

      You can have 2 new clients one day and 5 clients cancel their memberships the next. 

      Gary and Andy keep it raw with the realities of having your own business and I am able to relate.

      Being able to apply their experiences with mine has been so valuable and it has taught me more than I have learned from anyone else or schooling. 
      Person - ActiveLife Activist: Justin Nucum

      6) What weekend hobbies do you enjoy? 

      My newest found hobby is trail running with my clients. 

      Waking up before the sun comes up (instead of sleeping in) and then climbing up to highest point of the trail with the amazing views. 

      AND then being able to eat a filling breakfast with some coffee.

      A weekend well spent!

      Person - ActiveLife Activist: Justin Nucum

      7) Whats your favorite movie?

      Ah! Can't name just one but I love fighting/action movies: Jet Li, Jackie Chan, James Bond.

      8) Whats your favorite food?


      9) What would people be surprised to know about you?

      I am a HUGE foodie! Created my own food blog before I started Hardkour Performance.

      My Camera Eats First #FEEDYOURCAMERA 

      Restaurant - ActiveLife Activist: Justin Nucum 
      10) What's your favorite part about being an ActiveLife Activist? 

      Functional and high quality product that I can get behind and promote to my clients as well as use for myself.

      I have tried and used plenty of products similar to what ActiveLife offers but none come close!

      11) Tell us your favorite AL product and why you enjoy it so much.

      I have so many but my ABSOLUTE favorite is the HIGHBALLER.

      SO unique and functional. I use it all the time and recommend it to my clients.

      I even bring it to class and trainings so clients can use mine.

      It gets all these hard to reach places that a regular foam roller just cannot reach or dig in.

      Person - ActiveLife Activist: Justin Nucum