How six top athletes relax and recover


By Sarah Sekula, published on

How exactly do some pro athletes chill after a killer game or back-to-back workouts? It turns out, they are also pros at self-care. Cooking? Check. Netflix binge? Double check. Some surf to relax, while others try acro-yoga. And for most of them, it’s all about putting on that favorite pair of sweats (you know, the ones that aren’t allowed in public), throwing the hair into a messy bun and loading up on “Gilmore Girls.”

A few athletes spilled the beans — and sent us pics — of their down-time routines:

Lindsey Jacobellis, Olympic silver medalist and five-time world champion in snowboard cross

When I get back from a long trip I like to cuddle up with my dog in baggy clothes and not leave my place for a day. Traveling can be very harsh on my body, especially since I have been doing it as long as I have. I try and recharge as best as I can before engaging in a workout or traveling somewhere else again. Sometimes I like to hang out in my hammock in my garden and listen to my fountain — it is very soothing. I also read, watch movies or take walks down my street and enjoy the warmth before I return to the cold. My favorite cheat meal is definitely pizza, and I definitely log some time with Netflix. I loved “Stranger Things” and “Santa Clarita Diet.” For my chill out time I like listening to Fleetwood Mac, Beach Boys and Eagles.

Lauren Fendrick, Olympian in beach volleyball

What I do depends on what my oxygen saturation looks like. I keep track of the oxygen saturation in my blood every morning, before training, after training and at night to track my recovery process. If it’s is low at any point then I will take 20 minutes and do some breathing exercises. Right now, I’m way into box breathing — controlled breathing using counts of four. I also do daily meditation at practice with the Stanford beach volleyball team (I’m an assistant coach), which helps me clear out the mental clutter.

Sometimes my husband, Andrew, and I like to do acro-yoga. When I am the base (the person on the bottom) I love the way it pushes my legs into their hip sockets and when I’m the flyer (Andrew in this photo) it’s a nice decompression of the spine!

And at the end of my day after all of my workouts (usually there are two or three), I like to relax by listening to music and cooking dinner with Andrew. It’s a great way to reconnect and then we get a tasty, nutrient-dense meal to help the recovery process.

Carli Lloyd, two-time Olympic gold medalist and World Cup champion in soccer

I usually take a nice hot shower, throw on some sweats, put my hair up in a bun, lie on the couch and relax with a snack that won’t set me back, like turkey jerky. I am usually a busy body, so it is hard for me to relax, but I always need a day to veg out on the couch and do nothing but catch up on some shows like “House of Cards” and indulging in my favorite cheat meal: brick-oven margherita pizza.

Keala Kennelly, big wave surfer, former No. 2 in the world on the World Championship Tour

I really enjoy cooking, especially for my woman. We drink a glass of good wine, cuddle up with our pooch, Coco Chanel, and watch one of our favorite shows. In the last few months we binge-watched “Stranger Things,” “Homeland,” “WestWorld,” and recently we have been watching “Goliath” and have been loving the Trump spoofs on “SNL.” For music, I like the Buddah Bar playlist on Pandora or some moody trip hop like Massive Attack.

Roberta Mancino, professional skydiver and BASE jumper

I love to cook dinners for friends and my boyfriend. I am Italian, so I cook a lot of Italian food and drink good red wine. I cuddle with my cat, Biscuit. I also just recently learned to surf, so for me that is a good distraction from my training and it also makes me feel relaxed to be in the ocean. Same goes for swimming with animals — it’s very calming.

Tia Blanco, two-time champion at the ISA World Surfing Games

I love the feeling I have after I have finished an intense workout. I always feel refreshed and alive! I always have a healthy post-workout meal approximately 30 minutes after. Unless the waves are good, I usually like to relax and unwind. Relaxation to me is either a good book or a good Netflix show all snuggled up; I am currently watching “Gilmore Girls!” My favorite cheat meal is vegan vanilla cupcakes. Also, I have a whole playlist under “Relax” and it is a diverse playlist of very calm, soothing music that includes songs by Emma Louise, James McMorrow and Jorja Smith.