Health, well-being and fitness guru, Kate Mac shares why adding a stretch session is an absolute must for your wellness routine.
Yes, we’ve all been to the physio with aches and pains and been told – ‘do these stretches’ or ‘try a yoga class’ and have we done them? Even as a fitness instructor – I can put my hand up and say ‘guilty, no.’
I was a yoga instructor for 5 years and that was when my body felt its absolute best. I still practise at home when I can but with my 19 month old running around my feet all the time and another bub on the way, time seems to slip away, excuses get easier and when I do get that hour of the day to move my body I race to a gym class or something high intensity to make the most out of that hour. Now, more than ever is when I need to take that time to stretch out my body after all the late nights rocking my little girl to sleep and the constant bending over and picking up that happens in every mother’s daily routine and that’s why I was so intrigued when I heard about a place called Stretch Lab. If yoga isn’t your thing but you still want that deep bend and stretch? This could be your answer.
Now, some very exciting news is that I’m currently 22 weeks pregnant! The sad news is – being extra bendy with all the new hormones and what not I wasn’t able to do a session with Stretch Lab this time round (they don’t recommend going past the 1st trimester) but I did get to sit down with Freddy Hollow, the manager of Claremont Stretch Lab and find out a bit more about it.
Like a lot of people who work in the wellness industry Freddy has his own personal journey that brought him into the wellness space. Freddy suffers from Chrones Disease which was debilitating all through his 20’s and 30’s. Through changes in his diet and exercise over time Freddy managed to change a lot of the daily symptoms and wanted to move into the health and wellness space so he could try and help others too. He stumbled across Stretch Lab on Instagram as he was searching for somewhere to alleviate his pain and soreness from the gym and after having a chat and a few sessions he fell in love with the concept.
‘It’s all the little things that kind of make your day to day,’ He said. ‘Members who can’t tie their shoes and 3 weeks later they can tie their shoes themselves. Members who are getting off medications or no longer feeling pain, and then we just have the really fun ones like the teenagers coming in just moving better, feeling better and not being so sore so I donno it’s been cool’
What kind of clientele do you get at stretch lab?
‘We get everyone from the elderly who are just trying to move better, who play golf once a week or just want to turn their head in the car, to people in full rehab mode, had major surgeries or in pain every day and losing range of movement and then we get everything in between from office workers, gym goers and a lot of student athletes with growing pains, Olympians, regular members, footy players, everyone.’
Stretching has become more than just a small portion of your workout before and after, the benefits are widely known but still not everyone prioritises this over a gym session. How do you motivate people to prioritise Stretching and make them see the benefits?
‘Everyone’s motivation is different I suppose and it’s up to everyone to prioritise whatever they are after. Some people who are coming in, Stretch Lab is their focus, it’s their way to heal, it’s their way to move better, feel better, it’s a way to reduce pain so for them it’s easy to prioritise.
‘I think for most people these days everyone is on devices, they’re on their computers so there’s a lot of rounding posture so we are finding that people are coming in and they’re trying it out once and realising that if they can commit to once a week and it can be a 25 min or 50 min stretch, the benefits they are getting in their day to day lives as well as their sporting activities it just really compliments it and helps it….we usually get people to come in and try it out and once they do you don’t have to convince them to put in the time they want to’
How many sessions a week to see some change?
‘Minimum once a week, to get change and stretching is long term so month 2 or stretch 7 or 8 is where you start to see those daily differences but like any sort of training its repetition and consistency so if you’re coming sporadically, you’re going to have that sugar hit and feel great for a couple of days but coming regularly is how you’ll see the change so at least once a week.’
You use a mix of static & dynamic stretching as well as PNF – What is PNF?
‘PNF is pushing against the resistance of a stretch. Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation when you relax off that push or tension you are able to get into a deeper stretch but also what you are doing is retraining the brain to activate your target muscle when it’s in that lengthened position so its reaffirming that neuromuscular connection. A large part of flexibility and mobility is that stability portion and when you are activating your muscles in that lengthened position that’s when you grow your stability.’
What does a first session look like?
‘Client comes in and we run through what they do for work, what they do for activities and lifestyle, run through any injuries, run through any sore points they have, take a bunch of notes and then the flexologists will take them over to the bench explain to them a little bit about what we do and the type of stretching we do and we let them know we’re going to go gently on the first one and then start taking them through a stretch. We then take some notes afterwards for when they come back’
What is a flexologist?
‘Essentially it’s our stretching staff. They all have some kind of background in understanding how the body works and understanding how muscles work so we’ve got chiro students, physio students, we’ve got remedial massage therapists, pts, yoga backgrounds, pilates backgrounds, OT’s… they have to have a base understanding of how the body works and movement and muscles and also have that health and wellbeing purpose which is the main one, the goal is help people move better, feel better and everyone from that sort of realm has that drive initially as well as an understanding of body mechanics and muscles.’
As I was interviewing Freddy, I recognised a woman called Michelle getting stretched, she’s a woman I go to the gym with who is intimidatingly strong and dedicated to her sessions so I asked her about her experience with Stretch Lab.
I’ve been coming since May and try to get in once a week and have seriously noticed the difference in terms of flexibility. I’m as stiff as a board so for me this is quite essential I think. I don’t enjoy yoga all that much but this seems to give me the same effect. I walk out of here definitely feeling a lot more flexible and relaxed so it’s been really beneficial… it’s more the feeling afterwards it’s not so much during the stretch, it’s when you walk out I notice a difference in how my body feels straight away.
Stretching isn’t just a quick grab of the ankle or a tug of the hamstring anymore – it’s a way to really improve your quality of life and for a longer period. So, if Yoga isn’t your thing, don’t use that as an excuse not to stretch – Stretch Lab might be a good place to start your flexibility journey and what’s there to lose when the first stretch is free? As soon as this baby is out, I know exactly where I’m booking into (after a big glass of delicious wine that is!)