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INDIANAPOLIS — For most of us, the past year has quite literally been a pain in the neck. With many people working from home and sitting in front of screens for extended periods of time –- when we do work out—we tend to skimp out on the maintenance side of things.

As an avid athlete, Rod Julian knows the importance of muscle and body recovery. In the competitive world of boutique fitness, he realized there wasn’t as much going on in terms of recovery and maintenance…until he discovered California-based wellness concept called StretchLab.  

The goal is to help improve flexibility, enhance movement, reduce pain and improve quality of life though customized one-on-one assisted stretch sessions by certified professionals. 

It didn’t take long for him to fall in love with the concept — so much so that he opened the first StretchLab Indy location two months ago at Ironworks on the city’s north side.

We’re giving it a try to see what the buzz is about on this trip In Your Neighborhood.       

When Rod Julian first learned about the concept of StretchLab’s professional assisted stretching, he had the same question we did.

“I can stretch on my own so why would I pay someone to do that for me?” he wondered.

As he learned more, he realized the answer is pretty simple: People don’t stretch often enough and they don’t do it properly.

“When you’re stretching yourself, there’s an activation of the muscle. When you are being stretched by someone else, you are completely at their mercy,” he explained. “You’re not activating the muscles that we are trying to elongate and stretch and allow to grow.”

Here, you’re stretched by professionals called “flexologists” who must have a background in some sort of body movement discipline like yoga, physical therapy or kinesiology. Then, they are put through a specialized training program.

“They actually are going to become certified from a nationally-accredited organization as a flexologist,” he noted. “And StretchLab is the only assisted stretching business in the country that offers that level of accreditation and certification.”

So how does it all work?

First, you start at the body scanner.

Photo credit: StretchLab Facebook page

It gives a full read-out of your mobility, muscle activation, posture and symmetry to pinpoint individual needs and monitor progress — whether you’re a fitness fanatic or stuck at a desk all day.

“This really is for everyone,” he said. “We do have young athletes, high school athletes who want to be better pitchers and improve their shoulder mobility. And we’ve got elderly people who want to get out of bed with less aches and pains because their muscles tighten up [and] their joints tighten up overnight.”

Photo credit: StretchLab Facebook page

“It’s also for people who work at a desk all day and get tight hips [and] tight shoulders from hunching forward… People who drive long distances, causing their hips and their hamstrings tighten up,” he added.

The former is an issue Julian says they’ve seen much more since many people transitioned to working from home over the past year during the pandemic.

“We see a lot of hip and hamstring and lower back tightness and soreness as well as the hunching of the upper back,” he explained. “We see a lot of tightness there and some soreness from working on devices and being on a keyboard all day so a lot of those types of things.”

Julian says frequency is key when it comes to addressing those issues.

“You don’t get stretched once and all your problems go away and you achieve your goals,” he explained. “We encourage people to sign up for memberships and we offer once a week or twice a week [sessions]…so 4 times a month or 8 times a month — or a family can share 12 times per month.”

Photo credit: StretchLab North Indy Facebook page

The studio also sells some gadgets to use at home or on the road. But Julian says there are some easy things we can all do daily to help ourselves.

“First of all, breathe,” he suggested. “Good breathing techniques are really important but movement is critical… Every 20 or 30 minutes, get up and walk around for a few minutes even if you’re plugged in to a conference call.”

Four Things You Need to Know About StretchLab:

  • StretchLab is a California-based wellness concept offering customized assisted stretching sessions by professionally trained and certified “flexologists”. Carmel resident and lifelong fitness enthusiast Rod Julian realized the need for more recovery and maintenance options in the boutique fitness industry and brought Indy’s first StretchLab location to Ironworks (at 2727 E. 86th Street) earlier this year.
  • Julian says these professional assisted stretching sessions are not covered by insurance but in terms of prices, he says it’s comparable to a massage session.
  • Right now, StretchLab is offering free demo stretch sessions.  If you like it, you can book single sessions (lasting either 25 or 50 minutes) or opt for a membership with 4 or 8 sessions per month. “Or a family can share [a package with] 12 times per month,” Julian noted.
  • As COVID-19 restrictions ease in the future, Julian says they look forward to introducing corporate wellness events and small group sessions at the studio. “We are very focused on keeping people safe and we’ve got a lot of space here… but right now we’re really focused on the one-on-one stretching,” he said.

For more information about StretchLab North Indy, check out their website by clicking here.  You can also connect with the studio on social media via Facebook and Instagram.

While at Ironworks, check out these other local hot-spots: