Lia Arntsen: You Canna Be Well / Huff & Puff Fitness
by Solomon Rand
Lia Arntsen, the founder of Colorado’s You Canna Be Well and Huff & Puff Fitness, stumbled across the idea of combining fitness and cannabis quite by accident. “I have a love/hate relationship with exercise” she said, pointing out that she was never a big fan of gym culture, preferring smaller groups of women focused more on mutual support than bro-ish competition. When her and a group of friends shared a joint before an exercise session however, she found that missing X factor. Cannabis allowed her to focus more intently on exercises she normally found to be tedious, and enabled her to numb some of the aches and pains without exposing her to injury.
The seed had been planted, but it needed the right soil to grow. Leaving Florida for Colorado with just her dog and an idea, Arnsten started her research with herself as her first guinea pig. When she would medicate either pre or post workout, she tracked what she took and what the effects were. While not a doctor, she started acting as an unofficial “CannaCoach”, making recommendations of particular cannabis strains and products to friends, seeing what worked and what didn’t, approaching with the philosophy that “I know cannabis and you know your body, so together we can work out the best way for you to use cannabis”. She found that, even in a state with legal marijuana openly sold, there was still a sizable lack of knowledge of the breadth of available cannabis products, particularly topicals and lotions that don't result in the high that is commonly associated with cannabis. She joked that she was like a “cannafairy”, providing reliable information and encouraging the reticent to give it a try, and found that motivating others to work out reinforced her willpower for her own personal fitness routine. This eventually led to the creation of You Canna Be Well, Arntsen’s site offering advice and recommendations on cannabis, fitness, and living a balanced life.
Not content with just a website, Arnsten created Huff & Puff Fitness, an exercise class that incorporates cannabis both before and after the workout. Arnsten works with individual clients to determine their “canna-equation”, so they can determine what works best for them. Personally, she likes to start with a bowl of a citrusy sativa, preferring a Durban Poison or a Super Silver Haze to motivate her, along with 10-20mg of an indica edible to allow her to push herself a little further past what she otherwise finds comfortable. Her classes offer up bowls served in an EVO as well as one hitters for before, and a range of topics and ointments for pain relief after. The classes are designed to be body positive and attuned to a range of levels of fitness. “Healthy, strong, & fit” is the stated goal for participants rather than worrying about weight. As Arnsten states, “We have different bodies, learning how to work with and appreciate yours is the most important thing”. Furthermore, the class promotes a holistic approach for wellness. “Wellness really is about mind, body and soul. It's more than working out it’s about volunteering, it's about being creative it's about making sure you're calling people you care about, living a total wellness life.”
Arnsten sees a great deal of room for expansion in the cannabis fitness market. Having worked with Jim McAlpine to bring the 420 Games to Denver, she has seen firsthand the legions of cannabis users that put the lie to stereotypes about couch potatoes eating funyuns. “Everyone just needs an extra push. I keep people accountable for their wellness,” she explained, arguing that cannabis could be the motivating factor to get people off the couch. With cannabis becoming increasingly available across the country, we’re inclined to agree that Huff & Puff Fitness will be seeing quite a few imitators in the years to come.