Test Drive: Morningside’s new stretch studio

At StretchLab, a "Flexologist" helped me test my limits

A Flexologist stretches a patron at StretchLab.

Courtesy of StretchLab

I remember every P.E. class in elementary school starting with stretches—toe touches, arm circles, and neck rolls. Most of us were busy rolling our eyes. As an adult who appreciates a good workout, I’ve realized Mr. Mulcheck was onto something. So, when I noticed a sign for a new place called StretchLab, I was intrigued.

Founded in California in 2015, StretchLab opened a location in Morningside this past December and has 4 other franchises in the metro, adding to a trend of stretch studios that have been popping up around town during the past few years. The studio offers 25- and 50-minute, one-on-one stretches with trained “Flexologists.” While the merits of stretching have been the subject of hot debate in the fitness world, patrons here seek muscle relief, increased flexibility, and stress reduction. Located across the street from Pure Barre—which shares StretchLab’s parent company Xponential Fitness—and down the block from Highland Runners, the location aims to be a resource for active people of all ages, from high school athletes to elderly walkers.

Inside StretchLab Morningside

“It’s filled a void,” says Morningside StretchLab owner Barry Allyn. “Pro athletes have had this for decades—when you’re flexible, you’re less prone to injury. Plenty of our members sit behind a desk. We can correct for their neck, shoulder, back, and hip tightness.”

Initial sessions start with 3D body scan that assesses mobility, activation, posture, and symmetry. I was instructed to squat three times while holding my hands above my head. My score: 27/100. My assigned Flexologist—who had a background in exercise science and chiropractic—uses this information to customize my stretch. He asks about my activity level and pain points, then directs me to a massage-type bed.

The room features eight of these beds so you can watch others as they get stretched, too. If you’re uncomfortable in a group fitness setting, you’ll likely feel the same way here. I soon became absorbed in my session, as my Flexologist contorted my body into various positions, asking me to let him know when I reached a stretch threshold of five (out of 10) and then push against him. It felt like a combination of yoga, massage, stretch, and chiropractic. Afterward, my body felt great.

“All stretching is progressive in nature—you get more flexible with each session,” Allyn says. “You can release tension by lengthening the muscle.”

At 1 p.m. on a Tuesday, StretchLab Morningside welcomed a steady stream of members, primarily middle-aged women in yoga clothes. (You’re instructed to wear soft clothing and socks with some grip.) Allyn welcomed each by name, and the Flexologists consulted notes from previous visits to design a session right for each member.

My Flexologist diagnosed me as tight in hamstrings, glutes, right hip flexor and traps. He recommended I visit twice weekly for 25-minute sessions. The cost is $55 each, with a 20 percent discount for members. The introductory session is currently half off. While it was relaxing and I’m sure my body appreciated it, I can’t imagine fitting it into my weekly routine from both a time and budget perspective. If I had more of both, however, I’d be here for it.

“It’s gratifying that when people walk out of here, they feel great,” Allyn says.