Daily stretches? Yes, I do them. Starting from the moment I wake up and, equally important, I stretch throughout the day. Whenever my Apple Watch nudges me, I get up and move. My cobra, cat and cow poses are on repeat to give relief to never ending irritating lower back pain. Still, somehow, my shoulders always seem to be tight. I constantly push myself into the banisters at home just to get some relief. Whatever it takes. I know I’m not the only one. But what is it like to have someone else do the stretching for you?
I recently visited the newly opened StretchLab Studio in downtown Toronto, and the first in Canada, to find out why it’s buzzing in the city already. Having over 400 locations in the US, many have discovered this much desired service. But who’s it for?
For everybody and EVERY BODY
David Moskowitz, owner of the Toronto location tells us StretchLab is exactly what the company’s motto states — it’s for everybody and EVERY BODY. The benefits from their deeper assisted stretches are not what we can achieve on our own.
I was curious as to how he decided to open Canada’s first StretchLab. Moskowitz mentioned that he was in Los Angeles and had noticed this busy studio. He was curious so he went in asking about it and wanting to try it. When he discovered there was a two week long list before he could get an appointment his curiosity grew. What made this place so special? When he finally got in to experience the StretchLab it was clear that this was a much needed service so he learned everything he could about it. He opened the first location in January downtown Toronto on Adelaide Street West near Spadina.
The concept of having assisted one-on-one stretching shouldn’t be reserved for elite athletes. It’s something we can all benefit from regardless of age or what we do for a living. Professionals who sit hunched over a computer all day, those who do physical labour, those with mobility concerns, and yes, athletes of all levels may want to incorporate this into their routines.
We all know how good it feels to stretch and there are benefits …
- increase range of motion and flexibility
- decreases muscle and joint pain
- improves sports performance and movement
- improves posture
- reduces stress allowing blood in oxygen in our bodies to flow better
Aside from these noted benefits, I not only felt relaxed but also re-energized to continue on with my day. I actually went for a long walk after my first session!
So, what can you expect at a visit to StretchLab?
First, make sure you’re wearing comfortable clothing. Workout wear is fine as long as you have a good range for motion. On your first visit, you’ll be require to wear a clean pair of grip socks (they have them also in their retail shop). Then a trained “flexologist” will be assigned to you.
The StretchLab certified flexologists (male and female) are trained intensely under their proprietary program that uses a proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) technique. With each stretch, there’s a gradual push, release and resistance sequence that helps to offer a more effective stretch.
You’ll be guided through a quick computer scan assessment to determine what parts of your body needs some attention. A few squats and the MAPS technology will determine your mobility, activation, posture, and symmetry measures up. My mobility score was a 39 while the average person is about 50. Yikes! But, thankfully, my symmetry was good! The data is then used to help customize a stretch session.
Flexologist, Brian, explained the red zones are particular spots on my body that would benefit the most at my visit.
Notably, The red zones, as he explained, were in line with the spots I had pointed out when I first arrived. My back! My shoulders! But there were also other areas like glutes, hamstrings, calves that were raising red flags and were, significantly, interconnected with the pain in my lower back. Makes sense!
There are two rows of comfortable padded stretching tables in the open space. BTW, all StretchLab studio locations in North America look similar in design. A pillow is placed under your neck to help keep you supported and comfortable. Each session is customized to what your needs are for the day. As we went through the PNF technique together, I noticed a deeper release and more flexibility through each motion. To clarify, there’s no pain involved, just a huge sense of letting go.
Brian also finished off by giving me a few tips and stretches I could do at home to help my lower back. I’ve been doing them daily! Thanks Brian!
Sessions are 25 minutes or 50 minutes in duration. Go for the 50 minutes. Essentially, 25 minute sessions can be saved for maintenance visits. How often should or could you go? Once a week would be my ideal and there are package rates available for individuals but also group sessions are available. Great idea! And if you’re reading this before Valentine’s Day go and check out their special V-day offer for two.
StretchLab Studio Downtown Toronto is located at 410 Adelaide Street West, Unit 2. For more information and to book yourself in, visit their website here.