Turning up to a Gymbox class called Cannabliss (membership from £73, gymbox.com) is my twofold nightmare. First, group exercise has always struck me as torture plus humiliation. Second, drug talk makes me feel 107 years old. When I hear anyone rhapsodising about hydroponics or closed-loop extraction or how to core an apple bong, I have a tremendous urge to shout: “Why didn’t you stay in school, you’re obviously smart?” Even if they’re in their early 40s. I suppose if we rebranded Stem subjects as Seed and Buds, we could stop failing our weed heads. Anyway, the idea of enduring their company while on a crosstrainer makes me want to pull a … whitey, is it?
In my long shorts, I may as well have turned up to class wearing a baseball cap that reads: “How do you do, fellow kids.” I also arrive late, to fit in better with the apathetic stoners. It is my first mistake. They are all there, in their Lululemon and Nike athleisure gear, fit young professionals who regularly go to the gym and let their hair down with an extra broccoli floret at dinner. No one is here to get high. Cannabliss is a “recovery-focused class with the added benefit of CBD patches to help with inflammation”.
The teacher glares at me for the disruption. I select a mat too close to his, having no choice because the other spots are taken. He hands me a translucent, spearmint-coloured square to apply to my upper arm. The fact that I have a photographer with me isn’t ideal, either. I am already feeling intensely uncomfortable, and we haven’t even begun.
Perhaps we should back up, and explain CBD at this point. Cannabidiol has started springing up everywhere, in varied forms. In essence, it is just one of more than 100 chemical compounds that proliferate in the sweet flowers of Mary Jane and her wacky baccy. It is completely distinct from TLC, who were never able to match the highs of Waterfalls and No Scrubs, although Unpretty was pretty good. Hang on, hang on. *Squints* Oh, THC is the psychoactive element in cannabis – the main bit that gets you high, and there is little to none of it in CBD products. They are legal and said to help with pain relief, inflammation, epilepsy and depression. It is making use of the medicinal effects of cannabis, minus all the fun.
I’m certainly not having fun at Cannabliss. I had hoped a class with the word “recovery” in the description would basically be lying down and listening to classical music, but in fact it is a series of intense stretches and body manipulations to help muscles recover after workouts. Rolling crossed thighs down foam rollers, putting a squash ball under our shoulders and riding all our weight on it, holding planks and twisting our cores. Sweat runs into my eyes relentlessly. Gimme the apple bong, I think. There is no drug talk, the patch being there to help manage the pain, then boost our recovery over the following 24 hours. It is not managing mine well enough, and I haven’t done the workout immediately prior to this that the masochists around me presumably have.
I do think it is doing something, though. CBD patches are a more effective form of transferring cannabidiol into your bloodstream, unlike gummies or water infusions, which break down in the stomach along with your dignity. As I exercise, I can feel a light tingling under the patch. This is not as extreme as when you apply toothpaste to your swimsuit area, but more tingly than the beginnings of a cold sore. While CBD is not yet clinically proven, doctors and scientists are optimistic about its benefits. It is generally agreed there is something here worthy of study, and a weight of anecdotal evidence, not all of it from rock-loving dudes called Kevin or Cody or Sparrow.
As far as this lazy, pain-averse, 107-year-old square is concerned, it is easier to not exercise so hard that you need to take either the recovery class or use the patches. Driven young professionals will find Cannabliss dope. After an hour of it, I’m ready to slap a DNR notice on my back.