With over 35 adult dance and fitness classes a week, First Dance Studios has a packed and busy timetable. So a big but calm hello to StretchFlow. A gentle 30 minute stretch class every Saturday at 9.50am led by our very own Fitness Finalist, Super Sophie. But what exactly happens in a StretchFlow class and who is this class for? Let’s walk our feet towards our hands and check that out.
Exercise in all forms is good for us and when it comes to StretchFlow the emphasis is on slow dynamic movements. Sophie leads us through a numbers of movements aimed at warming up muscles, getting them working and gently teasing them open. Every week a series of stretches might work on specific body parts or the focus may be to build strength into the stretch. What I really enjoy about the classes is that I use muscles that need stretching that I often overlook in normal cool down stretches or do them a little bit too quickly for them to be actually effective.
In StretchFlow attention is paid to the whole movement and flow of the stretch. Stretches can help increase flexibility as well as increasing strength. It is also a great way for us to acknowledge our bodies in a calm and relaxed way noting what the body is doing. And it is also a great way to focus on our breathing patterns.
As this stretch session is gentle and can be modified to suit you, then this well-being session works. For those that come to the 9am Bootcamp workout, this class works really well to do a very gentle cool down and reset after a morning workout. For those that go to the 10.30am Technical Ballet this class works well to gently start moving and warming up the body to be Ballet ready for class. And for anyone who would like to have a gentle stretch before or after a walk around the Wetlands at Heather Farm then this works as well.
Saturday StretchFlow is a wonderful way to wake the body muscles up, get them working gently and build up strength. Depending on the set of stretches that we do, we sometimes start standing up or sitting down. Warming up slowly with gentle sways and twists while we listen to calm peaceful Spa like music. Just the thing to wind down after bootcamp or to warm up to before ballet and especially to kick the weekend off in a gentle but strong way.
Then we go very slowly, stage by stage of a dynamic stretch so we learn the sequence. From chest and hip openings and balance StretchFlow really helps ground our bodies. Once we have the sequence we can proceed more quickly and deeper into it. The stretch becomes dynamic and flows more smoothly so the whole body gets involved. Each week we build on balance in order to hold for longer.
And it is also more than body balance as Sophie states, “In Stretch Flow we give our bodies and minds some well deserved TLC! We work on lengthening, loosening and improving flexibility, posture and mobility. I love teaching this class and it’s fab to see everyone leaving the class standing a little taller, straighter and overall more relaxed!”
During the class layers work really well to keep warm and stay warm so that the stretches can be full and deep as you want them to be. Those who stay after Bootcamp for a good cool down stretch tend to use the time to gently cool down from the morning exercise. Those who come in before Technical ballet wrap up to keep those muscles warm. I like to layer myself up so that as we go I can either take something off or pull something back on. I wear leggings so that I don’t get caught up in shorts and I tuck my top in else it flaps around my head when we down a downward dog. Sometimes I take off my socks when I do Tree pose simply because otherwise my foot slips down my leg while trying to balance.
We do suggest bringing along your own mat but there are some available that you can borrow in class (antibacterial wipes available as well) . Bring along some water to keep yourself hydrated. If you feel you might need it a towel either to pat yourself down or to use as extra cushioning.
Let’s Stretch on Saturdays!