Sometimes nothing feels quite as good as a nice, big stretch. But it’s kind of like flossing, since we know it’s good for us, but we really don’t go out of our way to get it done. Well, now there are actual fitness classes just for stretching, some with hands-on assistance from a stretcher/instructor. Fans of stretching say the benefits include everything from anti-aging to better sex, but does it live up to the hype?
Assisted stretching sessions are kind of like a hybrid of physical therapy, personal training, massage therapy and yoga. Sometimes, they’re one-on-one, other times they’re more like a group fitness class. The idea is that stretching can ease pain and improve function and the additional pressure and weight of an instructor can help you get a deeper stretch than you can on your own.
But the good news is that assisted stretching has shown no significant advantages over stretching alone, so you don’t really have to shell out big bucks to have a stretcher help you. And make sure you’re stretching tight muscles every time you do a strengthening or cardio endurance workout.
And while stretching is good for us, trainers warn that stretching isn’t a substitute for other forms of exercise. "It's important to remember that these types of classes are meant to be recovery from your other workouts,” certified personal trainer Liz Barnet explains. “It's not a workout in and of itself."