This fall, we've been working on a new initiative at Recess.tv—Move for Mental Health, a six-week series celebrating the power of mind-body connection and organizations pushing the fitness industry forward for good.
As we move through the series, we're chatting with different experts to explore the intersections between mental and physical health and the way movement plays a special role in our lives.
Today, we're touching base with Krystal Cantu, an instructor offering a HIIT and Stretch workout on Week Three of the Move for Mental Health series.
So, who is Krystal Cantu?
Krystal Cantu is pure inspiration and exemplifies what it means to be physically and mentally strong. After having to amputate her arm due to a tragic car accident in 2013, she tapped into the foundations of strength that were instilled in her from when she was a child. Shortly after the accident, she became one of the first adaptive athletes to compete in the Crossfit games. Cantu can truly speak to the essence of mental strength when the odds are against you.
Here's what she has to say about fitness and finding the motivation to heal.
Recess: Has fitness always been an important part of your life? If not, why is it important now more than ever?
Krystal Cantu (KC): Absolutely. Fitness has saved me from my darkest moments. It’s important to remember that the body has a huge role in healing the mind. If we take care of our bodies, our bodies will return the favor. Our bodies crave movement, in whatever way that may look for you, it’s important to move.
Recess: What does your week-to-week workout routine look like?
KC: I typically start with a 1-2 mile run, followed by a CrossFit-inspired workout, a 15-20 minute stretch, and end it with a 16-minute meditation. CrossFit has been a sport I’ve been involved in for nearly 9 years, and I truly enjoy the variation and adaptability that it brings to the table. I always aim to work out 3-4 times a week. Rest is just as important as the workout.
Recess: What are some of the daily routines and movements that support your mental health?
KC: Putting time aside to sit in silence and reflect on what’s going on internally is extremely important to me. We live in an age where we are constantly stimulated. I had to relearn to be in silence and really feel what’s going on inside. I meditate twice a day, journal daily, and read up a lot on what anxiety is. I find that being informed has been so unbelievably helpful in the healing process.
Recess: If someone was just starting on their fitness journey, what would you say?
KC: Fitness is not a burden, it’s your saving grace. You must accept that there will be ups and downs through the process. It isn’t easy, but nothing in life is. Fitness can be a miracle worker if you just give it the chance to prove it to you.
Recess: What do you do when you’re feeling burnout coming on?
KC: Going on walks is a great way to not only reflect but to keep the body in motion. Keeping the body in motion proves to the mind that we’re still going, but we’re slowing down. We aren’t giving up, we’re just taking it one step at a time.
Recess: Why is destigmatizing mental health personally important to you?
KC: During my darkest of days, I searched endlessly online to see if anyone was experiencing what I was. I just wanted to feel like I wasn’t alone in what was happening. I wanted to know I was going to be okay, but no one ever talks about what really goes on in the mind of someone experiencing anxiety. I think it’s extremely important for us to be courageous and vulnerable enough to share the dark, scary age that goes through our minds at times. People need to know that they are not alone, and they are not the first (or the last) to go through this.
Join Krystal Cantu for a HIIT and Stretch class on Nov. 27th that will be benefiting Cheatcode, an organization working to improve the inclusivity of fitness.
Find out more info and sign up on our event page.