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woman stretching warm-up
The Latest
Published Tuesday Apr 07, 2020 by Jay Greene

Don't Forget to Stretch: How to Prep for a Virtual Class 

Fitness
Expert Advice

With so many fitness studios and gyms closing their doors in a bid to help flatten the curve of the COVID-19 pandemic, their members are turning to at-home workouts to fill the need for physical activity.  As we’ve mentioned before, there has likely been no better time to prioritize exercise in our daily lives, both for physical and emotional reasons. Luckily, many studios are now recording and streaming virtual workouts so people can take advantage of their offerings at home (Hint: you don't have to just book local, change your location to anywhere you'd like and explore classes all over the world!). But before you move the coffee table and roll out the mat, there’s something you should remember: stretching. 

Ah yes. Stretching. For many of us (though we’d never say it out loud) stretching before and after working out feels a bit like that pile of peas your mom made you eat as a kid: you know it’s good for you, but do I have to? The answer, I’m afraid, is yes—and even more so if you’re working out at home. Here are some best practices to help you prevent injury and make sure you’re getting the most of your incredibly valuable workouts. 

 

how to prep for a virtual class infographic
 

Step 1: Show Up Early 

Remember: any workout—even one done in your living room—is still a workout. If you’re about to do a 45-minute virtual class, don’t just give yourself 45 minutes. You need to give yourself time to arrange your space, get your water, and get your mind right before hitting play or joining that live stream. But you also need to give yourself time to get your body right too, and that brings us to… 
 

Step 2: Warm Up 

Wait, what about stretching? Conventional wisdom dictates that you should stretch your muscles before beginning your physical activity, but mounting research is telling us that may not be such a great idea. Stretching your cold, stiff muscle fibers before they’re warmed up can actually hurt them. And because we're spending so much time at home, it’s likely our poor muscle fibers are tighter now than they've been in a long time. 

If you’re following along with a live stream or on-demand workout, there will likely be some sort of instructor-led warm-up. That said, don’t assume that your virtual workout will provide exactly the kind of warm-up that you personally need. Without the trainer right there to keep you accountable and check your form, it’s super important to take steps to protect yourself and ensure you’re warmed up enough to begin. 

According to McAlister Training co-owner and head trainer Michael McAlister, “Warming up is as important, if not more important, than the workout itself. Even from home, I encourage clients to warm-up just like they would at our studio. Before every class, I ask clients to foam roll, do hip lifts, and perform trunk rotations as a pre-warm-up. Then, we’ll warm-up together on-screen.” 

So before reaching for those toes, spend a few minutes getting your blood moving to the areas you are going to stretch and exercise. A few other great ideas for some gentle (but effective) warm-ups include: 

- High knees (or run in place) 
- Push-ups 
- Holding a plank 
- Air squats 

Once you’re nice and warm, and maybe breathing a little heavier… 
 

Step 3: Now You Can Stretch 

Properly stretching your muscles helps keep them long and flexible, improving your range of motion during the coming workout and protecting muscles and joints from potential injury like sprains and strains. But as important as stretching is, you can injure yourself just as easily doing it incorrectly as you can by skipping it entirely.  

Enter your stretches slowly, and don’t overstretch to the point of pain. You should feel a satisfying pull, but if it hurts, you’ve gone too far. Combine static stretching—where you find your stretch and hold it for 30 seconds or more—with dynamic stretches like “cat-cow” where you move fluidly through a range of controlled motions. Feel free to concentrate on an area longer if you know you’re about to work that area out intensively or if you feel a lot of tightness there. And please, don’t bounce in your stretch—just stick with smooth, steady movements to avoid injuring yourself before you’ve even begun your workout. 

 

Virtual workouts now on Mindbody banner

 

Step 4: Work Out 

During the workout, pay attention to areas of tightness/sensitivity you noticed during your stretching session (or any new ones you discover).  Don’t “push through the pain” in problem areas or extend your muscles and joints past their natural range of motion. Basically, if it feels wrong, it is wrong. There’s absolutely no shame in modifying a move to protect yourself. 

“If you’re attending live stream classes at the studio you regularly go to, reach out to your instructor(s), and let them know what you’re experiencing. Just like in a regular class, they’ll be happy to chat with you on the phone or through FaceTime, individually, to provide tips to modify and recover properly,” says McAlister. 
 

Step 5: Cool Down 

Once you've counted down the final seconds of your workout and completed your last rep, you may be (justifiably) tempted to lay on the floor in a sweaty heap for a while before getting up to shower and carry on with your day.  But do that and you’ll miss a huge opportunity to improve your overall mobility and flexibility.  

As soon as your workout is over, cool down with some walking to bring your heart rate down in a controlled manner. Once you’ve caught your breath, it’s time to stretch again—and this one’s at least as important as the first. Think about it: your muscles are about as warm as they’re ever going to get, which makes it the perfect opportunity to work on conditioning those muscles and joints. Stretching can help lengthen and soothe your pumped-up muscles, which are now in a more contracted state after your workout. 

Plus, stretching is just a nice closing ritual for ending a workout. It allows you to decompress after the physical demands you just placed on your body and gives you a moment of calm reflection before changing gears. 
 

Step 7: Stick with It 

Just like working out, stretching only reveals its true potential when you do it consistently.  If you’re inflexible now, you got that way over a long period of time—and that means it’s going to take time to improve it. You can’t expect a single high-quality stretch sesh to undo months or years of tightness. Stick with a good pre- and post-workout stretch routine, and one day you’ll notice those toes aren’t quite so far away, and your back doesn’t hurt so much when you do that one thing anymore. 

Right now, a lot of people are re-evaluating what “normal” means for them, and many of them are finding ways to use this difficult time for self-improvement.  Virtual, at-home workouts are a blessing, giving us ways to stay active and stay connected with our favorite studios and trainers (or try new ones!).  But remember, you can protect yourself while you push yourself—you just might have to stretch yourself a bit. 

Jay Greene
Written by
Jay Greene
Copywriter
About the author
Jay has been proudly wearing his Mindbody lanyard since 2014. When he’s not writing for you fine folks, you can find him enjoying the great outdoors, holding a baby (or two), cooking and/or eating good food, or wading through a dusty old book of Stoic philosophy.
death of the walk-in
The Latest
Published Wednesday May 20, 2020 by Sara Lesher

When Salons Near Me Reopen: What To Expect From The First Visit Back

Beauty
Salon

Times are strange right now, as you all know. We’ve all heard the phrase “new normal” about a million times already, and all the while, things are still changing every day. If you asked me a few months ago what I’d be writing about right now, I would never have guessed I’d be interviewing someone about what it’s like to get a haircut

Nonetheless, we’re all doing our best to band together and help each other out right now. You may have noticed salons and spas offering messages of support, video tutorials for DIY beauty, and now, waitlists and announcements of reopening their doors. But as we all know, this isn’t the “old normal” anymore, and there will be changes. 

Here’s what you can expect to be different when you finally head back into the salon or spa:


Going the distance

As salons and spas begin to reopen, they’ll likely have to make changes due to new social distancing requirements. When you enter the space, you’ll probably see a complete rearrangement. Stations will be separated by at least six feet, and some might even be removed to allow for more space. Salons that don’t have that much space to spare are putting in temporary walls or partitions. 

On top of that, there may be fewer appointments scheduled at the same time (and definitely no walk-ins) to limit the number of people in the building. Say goodbye to waiting rooms and lobbies—you’ll likely be asked to wait outside or in your car until the exact start time of your appointment to prevent too many people crowding the front.


Keeping it clean

In addition to their increase in space, salons and spas will likely up their cleaning standards and procedures. We surveyed active consumers on the Mindbody app and learned that among the many changes beauty and wellness businesses can make upon reopening, following rigorous sanitization guidelines is the most important. You’ll probably see social posts or confirmation emails that outline new cleaning protocols, and you may notice some signage hanging around the building to reassure that the areas have been disinfected. Employees, and even guests, will be wearing masks and/or gloves, and you may even get a spritz of hand sanitizer at the door. According to Salon 124 Group, getting these supplies is turning out to be one of the largest obstacles for reopening.

In between each appointment, they’ll thoroughly disinfect the area before the next client arrives. Not only that, but each time you move to a new station (like from shampoo to haircut), they may also wipe down the station as soon as you get up to make sure it’s clean for the next guest. 
 

literally check ourselves out

Checking yourself out 

After a good haircut, we all want to check ourselves out. And now that we’re all more cautious of germs and bacteria, we also want to literally check ourselves out at the end of our appointments. Out of the various fitness, beauty, and wellness businesses on our platform, consumers feel most comfortable returning to hair salons, and 62.7% said hair cutting, coloring, styling, barbering, or blow-drying would be the first beauty service they book once restrictions are lifted. An extra, important layer of comfort can be added in the form of contactless payments.

Many salons and spas will likely be incorporating some sort of contactless checkout process to limit touch points. They may end up taking your payment information at check-in via text and removing the front desk, so you don’t have to interact with another person face-to-face.


Switching it up

All-in-all, you can expect changes—and lots of them. Whether it’s increased retail offerings, curbside pickups, virtual consultations, at-home appointments, or video tutorials, many salons and spas are getting creative with how they offer support to their clients. Above all, they want to help us feel beautiful, confident, and somewhat normal during this time—and for that, we’re so thankful.


Want to hear about a real salon experience firsthand? One of our own got her hair done at a reopened salon in Georgia—here’s how it went.

Are you a salon owner yourself? Check out the Reboot Kit for Salons, Spas, & Wellness Businesses for extensive info and advice on how to prepare for reopening.



MINDBODY. “COVID-19 APP USER SURVEY #5.” MAY 2020.
Sara Lesher
Written by
Sara Lesher
Marketing Content Associate
About the author
Spoiled by the San Diego sunshine, Sara’s hobbies include beaching, hiking, concert-going, and brewery-hopping. As Mindbody’s Marketing Content Associate, she naturally loves reading and writing… so if you have any book recommendations, let her know. And just between us: she’s committed to health and wellness but loves a good taco (shoutout TJ Tacos in Escondido).