Julianne Hough Gets Real About Her 'Foggy' Mindset Without Proper Recovery

The 33-year-old athlete shares how she finally learned to prioritize recovery and which recovery tool she considers her "little party trick."

Julianne Hough, famed for her vivacity whether she's frolicking through Italian fields or passionately dancing in her private gym, has experienced firsthand the toll of a mind and body disconnect. The 33-year-old performer acknowledged that her prior focus on aesthetics and performance left little room for self-care.

"Being an athlete and dancer, my goals had always been centered around optimum performance and achieving the ideal physique," Hough shared with Shape. "However, I failed to prioritize recovery and healing, leading to a hazy mindset due to constant exertion."

Paying attention to her physical well-being, she discovered, had a positive effect not only on her body but also on her mental state. "Taking care of our body leads to a healthier mind, and vice versa," she says.

This year's Tokyo Games served as a poignant reminder of the importance of athletes' mental health. When world-renowned gymnast Simone Biles opted to withdraw from several events to concentrate on her emotional health, it further emphasized the need for balance. "Some years ago, I might have pushed through," said Biles. "But now, I have control over my mental health and knew that taking a step back was the best decision for both me and the team."

Enter KINRGY, Hough's latest venture – a fitness platform that promotes physical as well as emotional well-being. A dedicated dancer, Hough founded KINRGY in 2019 to blend her love for movement with a means for self-care. Her dance-centered method encourages participants to lose themselves in a workout, momentarily leaving behind worldly stress. Besides enjoying movement and meditation classes (Buy It, $30 monthly, $225 yearly, shop.kinrgy.com), Hough appreciates variety in her regimen.

In her workout routine, Julianne Hough incorporates diverse activities such as Pilates, yoga, and personal training sessions. She emphasizes the significance of recovery in addition to vigorous exercise, describing it as a second workout. Hough argues that without adequate recovery, there's potential for burnout—an excessive weariness brought on by unmanaged chronic stress at work. This important issue is even recognized by the World Health Organization, being listed in the International Classifications of Diseases (ICD-11). The symptoms of burnout encompass feelings of exhaustion, emotional detachment from work, or struggling with work-related performance. Hough's reference could be interpreted as either burnout or overtraining syndrome—a state where you train with such intensity, leaving insufficient time for recovery between sessions. Regardless, the message remains clear: both mental and physical recovery are critical for maintaining balance.

Hough credits her recovery to Therabody, a fitness-focused brand that equips athletes with the necessary tools to put wellness at the forefront of their daily routines. "The moment I started incorporating Therabody products into my routine, I noticed increased mobility and relaxation within my muscles, something I struggled to achieve on my own. Once you start using these products, there's no turning back," says Hough, an investor in the company and its newest brand ambassador. One of her top picks is the Theragun (Buy It, from $299, therabody.com), a massage gun that targets different areas of the body. She also swears by RecoveryAir (Buy It, from $699, therabody.com), a leg compression system designed to boost circulation and ease muscle soreness. In addition, she takes the handy Theragun mini (Buy It, $199, therabody.com) with her wherever she goes.

Invest in the Theragun Prime, priced at $299 on therabody.com, and benefit from its portability. As something that can easily fit into your purse, this device offers constant support wherever you go. It's also a great conversation starter when you pull out the Theragun mini from your bag unexpectedly, adds Hough, in a light-hearted manner. Unlike foam rollers which require you to exert effort continuously, the only movement needed with massage guns is the maneuvering of your hand. These devices are known for their proficiency in alleviating muscle tension. On the other side of the spectrum, compression boots are designed to lessen swelling and stiffness while providing relief from muscle fatigue.

Recovery is an essential part of Hough's regimen, but so is accountability. That's why she prefers to indulge in physical exercise with a mate. "Having someone to keep you motivated and responsible during workouts can make the entire experience more enjoyable," states Hough about her close friend, Nina Dobrev. "Engaging in outdoor activities with a friend is an excellent way to boost your endorphins while spending quality time with them. Nina and I are both adventurous, so we like engaging in activities outside the typical workout setting. We enjoy snowboarding, surfing, and hiking."

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