Depending on where you live, you may or may not have heard of the growing trend of studio stretching classes. I became aware of this trend when my wife received a pair of passes to try a stretching class from one of her favorite spin instructors, and I tagged along as I have made stretching part of my workout routine.
What Is A Studio Stretching Class?
The studio stretching class I attended was a 30-minute class, and at first, it strongly reminded me of a yoga class, minus the emphasis on meditative energy and spirituality.
Our small group moved through a series of static stretches (holding positions) then moved into more dynamic stretches (moving stretches). We also used stretching tools such as bands and foam rollers to perform some basic myofascial release therapy on ourselves.
As a lifelong athlete, I can’t say the stretching class was a revelation since I’d had a number of coaches teach me everything my wife and I covered in the class. However, my wife found she enjoyed the group stretching class and found the instructor’s help in positioning useful.
After the class, I did some research on my own and found that there are one-on-one stretching sessions available as well as the group stretch session my wife and I participated in. During these one-on-one sessions, the stretching class seemed more like a mix of chiropractic work and massage therapy, with an instructor helping you find the right position and assisting with your stretches. The instructor also performs the myofascial release for you, helping to release those stubborn trigger points where knots are likely to form.
Potential Pros Of Stretching Help
While I don’t feel like I gained all that much from the stretching class, there are potential pros which may apply to other interested people.
- Clear up misinformation – There is a right way to do a stretch or to roll out a knot and many wrong ways. By attending one of these stretching classes, you can have your form corrected and protect yourself from the effects of improper stretches.
- Enjoy group work – Some people thrive in a group exercise setting, so if you are one of these people, the laid-back group setting at a stretching class may interest you.
- Learn new stretching techniques – Most people who had to go through the public school system probably have an idea of how stretching works. However, the instructor may be able to introduce you to new stretches to try, and not nearly as many people are aware of myofascial release points.
- Increase flexibility – In our modern lives full of sitting in crunched positions for long periods of time, anything which increases our flexibility is a good thing. And one of the easiest things you can do to improve your flexibility is to stretch.
- May be a good yoga substitute – While many people don’t mind and actively enjoy spirituality often associated with yoga, I know it can make some individuals uncomfortable. So, if you want yoga-like benefits minus the gilding of spirituality, a stretching class may be for you.
Things To Keep In Mind Before Trying A Stretch Class
Before you go searching for a stretching class, there are some things you should keep in mind prior to signing up.
Credentials are important – When it comes entrusting your body to someone, it is important to know that they have the right credentials to really help you. Not all personal trainers have the same certifications and experience, which means they may not realize that their assistance during your stretching may injure you.
During static stretching in particular, it can be easy to over-extend. Some stretching studios are employing highly experienced personal trainers, chiropractors, massage therapists, and other specialists, so be sure to check before you book a stretching session.
Benefits of stretching are debatable – You may not think it, but there is a continually hot debate around stretching, with organizations like Harvard Health advocating for stretching, yet other well-researched organizations saying stretching does nothing measurable.
So, if any stretching studio is promising you the moon if you just attend their classes, I would recommend caution, as there is plenty of evidence for both sides to cite about the actual benefits of stretching.
Stretching classes can be costly – One-on-one stretching classes can often range from $45-$135 per class depending on how long the class runs. Naturally, these prices vary based on locations and membership packages.
Stretches You Can Do At Home For Relief
You don’t have to go to a stretching studio to enjoy the relief that stretching can provide. Some easy stretches you can do on your own to release tension are:
- Calf stretch
- Lunge with spinal twist
- Standing quad stretch
- Side bend
- Chest stretch
- Standing forward bend
As for me, I still fall into the camp of “stretching can be useful”, as I have at least seen a marked improvement in my own flexibility and I enjoy the meditative movements. However, I do recommend that if you are dealing with recurring injuries or pain that you work with a physical therapist rather than try to just correct it with some deep stretches.