Leave the running shoes at home. Don't bother to grab a sweat towel. Don't even put your hair up; you won't ruin your 'do. The only thing you're required to do at Stretch Zone in Dallas is lay there. In fact, exerting energy makes it harder for everyone.
At this boutique stretch gym, one of several popping up in North Texas, a certified personal trainer will ply your limbs in smooth, careful movements during a 30-minute session. Stretch Zone's sessions start with a warmup — gentle hip and hamstring movement, facilitated by the instructor. Then you transition into stretches that isolate a muscle, like the glutes, calves or piriformis, a.k.a., the "hip back-pocket area," a problem area for runners, says certified athletic trainer and Stretch Zone general manager Becca Menhart.
Stretches are designed to eventually increase range of motion and help with stiffness.
Those straps on the stretch bed? Not scary. For a movement that requires more stability, the instructor will secure you with padded straps so the stretch is fully focused on one muscle group. Seriously, you just lay there.
It isn't intended to hurt — and I can attest that it doesn't. Each stretch is ranked by levels of intensity, with the goal of hitting a level 3, then 5, then 7.
It could be called "Dallas laziest exercise class," but exercise isn't quite right. It's geared toward people who are looking for help stretching sore muscles but don't need a licensed physical therapist. It is a class, but each instructor works with just one client. And it's for people of all fitness levels, not just athletes.
Stretching gyms can be pricey — Stretch Zone costs about $50 per 30-minute session — and instructors suggest customers sign up for more than one stretch. So, look at it this way: One class is about the same price as a massage. Or double the price of an exercise class.
Without, y'know, moving a muscle.
Stretch Zones are located at 8307 Preston Road in Dallas; 5809 Preston Road in Plano; and 405 N. Carroll Ave. in Southlake.