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Les Mills International
Les Mills International
Les Mills International
features

New trends: Assisted stretching

A combination of being hunched over desks and dynamic workouts have led to a new trend in assisted stretching studios. Is this the next big thing and should health club operators be adding it for their members? Kath Hudson reports

Published in Health Club Management 2018 issue 8

Stretching every day is as important for self-care as sleeping, eating, flossing and bathing,” says Diane Waye, owner of Stretching by the Bay, San Francisco. “For those with sedentary jobs, it mitigates the effects of limited movements, compromised positions and repetitive actions. While for those who are active, it optimises performance, restores the body and brings it back into balance.”

Waye has offered assisted Active Isolated Stretching (AIS) for 21 years at her San Francisco clinic and says interest and awareness is growing. “People are waking up to the importance of shedding stiffness every day. Not just Baby Boomers either – young people come to me to work on their flexibility and posture, knowing they need to move beyond a sedentary lifestyle if they want to stay really well.

“Recreational athletes also come to improve performance and the longevity of their activities; some people come to save their joints – tight muscles compress joints and wear them out too soon, and muscle imbalances create problems and pain. Some people come just because it feels so good to be stretched!”

Good for neurological conditions
According to Waye, AIS is also helpful for people with neurological conditions including Parkinson’s Disease, stroke and Multiple Sclerosis and challenges such as fibromyalgia, functional leg length difference, kyphosis and scoliosis.

Flexibility training is also a good place to start for sedentary people who are starting to exercise, because it increases the range of movement, allowing them to go on to exercise and build strength more safely and without injury.

Lou DeFrancisco, president of the Californian-born chain of stretch studios, StretchLab, says it’s not surprising that stretching is becoming so popular. “If you asked 100 people if stretching was good for you, 100 people would say yes,” he says. “It’s also been driven by the boom in group exercise and HIIT over the last 15 years – people are following the example of pro-athletes and showing more interest in active recovery.”

So why are people paying to be stretched, rather than just stretching themselves? Many are put off stretching because they don’t know what to do, or it feels painful, but mainly it’s because assisted stretching is more effective, as the body can be eased past the point of natural resistance. Even people who do yoga and pilates are buying into stretching services because it gives them so much more flexibility in their practice.

Educating the public
Entrepreneur Kika DuBose who has developed her own method of assisted stretching and is franchising her Kika Stretch Studios, says stretching is not the next big trend, but assisted stretching is. “In 2011, when I first opened my studio in New York, no one was into the assisted stretching concept. People thought I was crazy for having a studio that offered one-to-one stretch sessions,” she says. “But, after educating the public and showing them how much better their results would be if they allowed someone to help them, they were hooked! Once people started seeing that a stretch studio could help them feel better in life, they jumped on the idea.”

Independent entrepreneurs like Waye and DuBose have driven consumer awareness and created the demand, and now the trend has caught the attention of big operators.

StretchLab – which was created by a PT with a client who liked to be stretched – has been acquired by Xponential Fitness (see box on previous page) and billion dollar spa franchisor Massage Envy launched its own stretching concept, the Streto Method, about a year ago. Developed in conjunction with an acclaimed chiropractor, a massage therapist and an ergonomist, this involves 10 stretching sequences that work from the top down, helping to improve flexibility, increase mobility and boost everyday performance.

Part of a wellness routine
Lead stretch therapist and trainer for Massage Envy Kevin Ramsey says: “Although the stretching category is gaining momentum, only about one third of people know the proper stretching techniques. As consumers become more aware of the benefits of stretching, they’ll need more products and services, which will not only help to educate them about proper stretching techniques but also help them to seamlessly incorporate stretching into their wellness routine.”

Unlike a massage, assisted stretching doesn’t make people feel sleepy, as it’s an active rather than passive experience. Although some studios have one-to-one space for clients who need privacy, treatments typically take place in a communal room, with conversation between therapist and client as they ask them to interact and engage certain muscles. “People leave feeling invigorated, taller, with better posture and ready to attack the rest of the day,” says DeFrancisco.

Given that everyone can benefit from assisted stretching and that both being active and being sedentary necessitates the need to stretch, and that even yoga and pilates isn’t enough to undo the postural problems we create for ourselves, this does indeed look like a trend that is here to stay. So how can health and fitness operators engage?

The main challenge is to ensure staff are correctly trained, as wrongly stretching a client could lead to injuries. It’s important to fully research and vet any training programmes and collaborators before making any investments.

It won’t be long before assisted stretching becomes as popular in the UK as it is in the US. Ten Pilates is already offering the service, StretchLab is on the hunt for a master franchisor, while Virgin Active has added a stretching and self massage class to its menu, which includes trigger point therapy, dynamic and static stretches.

Sign up here to get Fit Tech's weekly ezine and every issue of Fit Tech magazine free on digital.
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New trends: Assisted stretching

A combination of being hunched over desks and dynamic workouts have led to a new trend in assisted stretching studios. Is this the next big thing and should health club operators be adding it for their members? Kath Hudson reports

Published in Health Club Management 2018 issue 8

Stretching every day is as important for self-care as sleeping, eating, flossing and bathing,” says Diane Waye, owner of Stretching by the Bay, San Francisco. “For those with sedentary jobs, it mitigates the effects of limited movements, compromised positions and repetitive actions. While for those who are active, it optimises performance, restores the body and brings it back into balance.”

Waye has offered assisted Active Isolated Stretching (AIS) for 21 years at her San Francisco clinic and says interest and awareness is growing. “People are waking up to the importance of shedding stiffness every day. Not just Baby Boomers either – young people come to me to work on their flexibility and posture, knowing they need to move beyond a sedentary lifestyle if they want to stay really well.

“Recreational athletes also come to improve performance and the longevity of their activities; some people come to save their joints – tight muscles compress joints and wear them out too soon, and muscle imbalances create problems and pain. Some people come just because it feels so good to be stretched!”

Good for neurological conditions
According to Waye, AIS is also helpful for people with neurological conditions including Parkinson’s Disease, stroke and Multiple Sclerosis and challenges such as fibromyalgia, functional leg length difference, kyphosis and scoliosis.

Flexibility training is also a good place to start for sedentary people who are starting to exercise, because it increases the range of movement, allowing them to go on to exercise and build strength more safely and without injury.

Lou DeFrancisco, president of the Californian-born chain of stretch studios, StretchLab, says it’s not surprising that stretching is becoming so popular. “If you asked 100 people if stretching was good for you, 100 people would say yes,” he says. “It’s also been driven by the boom in group exercise and HIIT over the last 15 years – people are following the example of pro-athletes and showing more interest in active recovery.”

So why are people paying to be stretched, rather than just stretching themselves? Many are put off stretching because they don’t know what to do, or it feels painful, but mainly it’s because assisted stretching is more effective, as the body can be eased past the point of natural resistance. Even people who do yoga and pilates are buying into stretching services because it gives them so much more flexibility in their practice.

Educating the public
Entrepreneur Kika DuBose who has developed her own method of assisted stretching and is franchising her Kika Stretch Studios, says stretching is not the next big trend, but assisted stretching is. “In 2011, when I first opened my studio in New York, no one was into the assisted stretching concept. People thought I was crazy for having a studio that offered one-to-one stretch sessions,” she says. “But, after educating the public and showing them how much better their results would be if they allowed someone to help them, they were hooked! Once people started seeing that a stretch studio could help them feel better in life, they jumped on the idea.”

Independent entrepreneurs like Waye and DuBose have driven consumer awareness and created the demand, and now the trend has caught the attention of big operators.

StretchLab – which was created by a PT with a client who liked to be stretched – has been acquired by Xponential Fitness (see box on previous page) and billion dollar spa franchisor Massage Envy launched its own stretching concept, the Streto Method, about a year ago. Developed in conjunction with an acclaimed chiropractor, a massage therapist and an ergonomist, this involves 10 stretching sequences that work from the top down, helping to improve flexibility, increase mobility and boost everyday performance.

Part of a wellness routine
Lead stretch therapist and trainer for Massage Envy Kevin Ramsey says: “Although the stretching category is gaining momentum, only about one third of people know the proper stretching techniques. As consumers become more aware of the benefits of stretching, they’ll need more products and services, which will not only help to educate them about proper stretching techniques but also help them to seamlessly incorporate stretching into their wellness routine.”

Unlike a massage, assisted stretching doesn’t make people feel sleepy, as it’s an active rather than passive experience. Although some studios have one-to-one space for clients who need privacy, treatments typically take place in a communal room, with conversation between therapist and client as they ask them to interact and engage certain muscles. “People leave feeling invigorated, taller, with better posture and ready to attack the rest of the day,” says DeFrancisco.

Given that everyone can benefit from assisted stretching and that both being active and being sedentary necessitates the need to stretch, and that even yoga and pilates isn’t enough to undo the postural problems we create for ourselves, this does indeed look like a trend that is here to stay. So how can health and fitness operators engage?

The main challenge is to ensure staff are correctly trained, as wrongly stretching a client could lead to injuries. It’s important to fully research and vet any training programmes and collaborators before making any investments.

It won’t be long before assisted stretching becomes as popular in the UK as it is in the US. Ten Pilates is already offering the service, StretchLab is on the hunt for a master franchisor, while Virgin Active has added a stretching and self massage class to its menu, which includes trigger point therapy, dynamic and static stretches.

Sign up here to get Fit Tech's weekly ezine and every issue of Fit Tech magazine free on digital.
Gallery
More features
Editor's letter

Two-way coaching

Content providers have been hugely active in the fit tech market since the start of the pandemic. We expect the industry to move on from delivering these services on a ‘broadcast-only’ basis as two-way coaching becomes the new USP
people

Laurent Petit

Co-founder, Active Giving
The future of sports and fitness are dependent on the climate. Our goal is to positively influence the future of our planet by instilling a global vision of wellbeing and a sense of collective action
people

Adam Zeitsiff

CEO, Intelivideo
We don’t just create the technology and bail – we support our clients’ ongoing hybridisation efforts
people

Anantharaman Pattabiraman

CEO and co-founder, Auro
When you’re undertaking fitness activities, unless you’re on a stationary bike, in most cases it’s not safe or necessary to be tied to a screen, especially a small screen
people

Mike Hansen

Managing partner, Endorphinz
We noticed a big gap in the market – customers needed better insights but also recommendations on what to do, whether that be customer acquisition, content creation, marketing and more
interview

Mathieu Letombe

We’re ultimately bringing health monitoring technologies from the doctor’s office into the home, to help patients and their physicians make life-saving changes

Refining augmented reality

London boutique The Refinery has created an avatar-led digital fitness offering called ALFI, which utilises augmented reality (AR) to demonstrate movements. Zoe Bertali, one of the co-founders of the gym, tells us more

Jessica Ennis-Hill: founder of Jennis

Jessica Ennis-Hill is on a mission to close the gender data gap in health research. Her app, Jennis CycleMapping, is designed to help women understand their cycles and how to train during each different phase. Steph Eaves speaks to Ennis-Hill to find out exactly how it works

How usable is your product?

Your fit tech product might be a game changer, solving problems or creating new possibilities for clients, but none of this will matter if it’s not easy and enjoyable to use. Industrial designer Nick Chubb explains why usability is key, and the factors to consider when designing your new product

Put on your red light

Red light therapy promises a variety of benefits, including better recovery, skin rejuvenation and increased energy, but is it all too good to be true? Fit Tech spoke to Bryan Gohl and James Strong of Red Light Rising, and Wes Pfiffner of Joovv to find out more
interview

Kilian Saekel

A-Champs is a platform that delivers sports science-based programmes and games through interactive sensor pods that come with light, sound and vibration

Adrian Hon

Zombies, Run! is one of the most enduring fitness apps, with half a million users getting active while engaging in ‘missions’ against the zombie apocalypse. Its co-creator spoke to Steph Eaves about the power of story

Digital community

Matt Stebbings of SLT Group talks about the creation of their Community Portal, a new platform that aims to help anyone to get active, whether that’s inside or outside of SLT’s facilities

Funxtion: A vital connection

NonStop Gym, Switzerland’s no frills gym chain, has appointed FunXtion to create its member training app

Monitoring mental health

New technology uses advanced machine learning to monitor patients’ mental health between visits to their medical providers
people

Devi Mahadevia

Facebook director of sports and fitness partnerships
With Facebook paid online events, publishers can charge viewers to attend a video livestream on their Facebook pages or a third party video service
people

Andy Etches

Founder and sports director, Rezzil
Rezzil was able to have an injured player learning his new manager's philosophy, positioning and playing style – all from a seated position
interview

Preston Lewis, Black Box VR

It’s clear that combining VR gaming with fitness has the potential to decrease pain, increase enjoyment, and allow players to push their bodies further than they would normally, creating real fitness gains over time
More features
Les Mills International
Les Mills International