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If you’ve ever smoked weed, you can probably attest to its intrinsic ability to intensify your focus on whatever it is that you’re doing.
Jim McAlpine, founder of the wildly successful 420 Games, sees a clear positive connection between cannabis and athletics and seeks to break the stigma that smoking weed makes one lazy and inactive. In his latest venture, he has founded Power Plant Fitness, the first-ever cannabis-friendly fitness center.
BTRtoday spoke with McAlpine about obstacles he encountered in creating the gym, the inspiration behind it, and the benefits of smoking weed and working out.
BTRtoday (BTR): What led you to meld the worlds of fitness and cannabis?
Jim McAlpine (JM): It’s always been a passion of mine. Ever since I was younger, I’ve paired the two together pretty successfully, and it’s just been something that’s been near and dear to me personally.
Secondarily, my main business SnowBomb.com (which I’ve owned for about 20 years), is a ski industry company, and it really waned for about four years as we’ve had massive drought here in California. So really my income and business has waned due to the drought in California, and it was two years ago where I really had to figure out something to do in case the rain didn’t start coming back down.
I was kind of forced into creating a new career, and when I was pushed into that position, that’s what pushed me into my past and my passions and that’s where I kind of jumped into the cannabis and athletics idea. There really wasn’t anything there when I started, so I’m kind of the first person to create something formally around this.
BTR: I read an article in which you emphasized that Power Plant would be more focused on the fitness aspect than the cannabis aspect. Can you tell us a little bit more about that?
JM: Power Plant is a fitness and wellness center, and it’s focused on optimal performance of body and mind. This is a very serious venture to help people optimize their health and fitness, not only by using cannabis, which is something we’re OK with and open to. That’s just a piece of it. This is a very high-end endeavor by very serious athletes to teach other people how to integrate cannabis into their fitness routines in their life.
People chuckle at first and use the term “stoner gym” and whatever else. I just want to make sure people understand that this is the same thing as the 420 Games mission. I’m not a stoner, and this is not about being a stoner.
BTR: What are some of the benefits that marijuana consumption can bring to athletic activity?
JM: I’ve broken it down into two main categories in which people use cannabis in athletics. People use it for recovery, so after working out people have sore muscles and joints. Cannabis—whether it’s ingested through smoking, vaping, or an edible form, or even topical form where people rub THC-infused gels into their joints—can really help with recovery.
Focus is the other category. I use it mostly for that, and to keep my brain activated in the sport or the mission I’m undertaking. So if I’m going on a long-distance run, or for an open-water swim, or I’m just in the gym training by lifting weights, cannabis helps me stay focused and interested and reach that flow state as an athlete. I tend to get bored with sports and being in the gym, so for me it’s a focus thing.
BTR: Is part of Power Plant’s mission to educate people that cannabis is a way to reach that level of focus?
JM: Out of the gate, I don’t preach that every person should use cannabis. I just want for people to understand it’s an option and for them and to consider it. It isn’t for everybody, and for some athletes, cannabis will mix with their mind and body in totally different ways.
We’re definitely not preaching that everyone should use marijuana. Steve D’Angelo, who’s a large figure in cannabis reform and has been a mentor to me, once said that cannabis accentuates things that you like or love and make them that much better. It makes you appreciate those things that you love. So if you’re an athlete and love to play basketball or a skier and you like to ski, and you smoke a little weed beforehand, it only opens your heart more to do this thing you already love to do.
BTR: I’ve read that smoking won’t be allowed inside of the facility due to legal restrictions. Are there any other legal hurdles you’ve had to clear to get this thing going?
JM: There’s a lot of work that goes into opening a gym without the cannabis part, from insurance to real estate and all that stuff. It’s definitely not an easy venture in many aspects, even aside from the legality of the cannabis. In terms of the cannabis question, it kind of fits well because legally we’re not allowed to be smoking in some of the buildings due to how things are zoned, but that’s in alignment with the fact that we want to teach people the optimal way to consume cannabis.
I opt to eat it when I can, and I’ll also choose vaping over smoking because it’s healthier for my lungs. I think it’s alright to smoke once in awhile, but I think it’s like sweets or sugar: I try to limit the amount I take in.
BTR: What has the response been like in terms of memberships and general interest in the idea?
JM: The response has been insane. We’ve gotten a lot of media out of it, and the shares and Facebook virality has been nuts. We’ve gotten tons of emails. I’ve gotten at least 50, if not more people asking how they can apply for a job with us. Emails from all over the country, and even from all over the world—I’ve gotten several from the U.K. and Australia. The interest level has been mad, there’s a lot of people looking to join, and we don’t even have a structure yet to take people’s money. We’ve gotten some awesome responses out of the gate for sure.