By Carolina Keating
After moving through a variety of stretching exercises for the past hour in a small fitness studio with two other women and our instructor, my muscles feel both completely relaxed and thoroughly worked out. There was no running and jumping or intense cardio, yet my body feels as if it has accomplished a solid workout.
For most people, myself included prior to taking this class, stretching comes as an afterthought to a workout. Faith Lightfoot, owner of Stretch To Live, thinks that is a little backwards. At Stretch To Live, stretching isn’t just a warm up or cool down; it is the workout.
Instead of focusing on high intensity and heavy impact exercises, Stretch To Live approaches fitness from a totally different angle. “We are a no-impact fitness session where we are unlocking and unleashing the muscle chain,” says Lightfoot. “We are stretching, strengthening, toning, working on posture, and working on balance. We work just about every muscle in your body in a one-hour session.”
Lightfoot started Stretch To Live after moving to College Station from Charlotte, N.C., five years ago. As an exercise physiologist and wellness coach, she soon decided College Station was in desperate need of fitness classes that catered to a non-college student crowd.
“Something I observed in talking with my clients is that if you live in this town and you’re over 25, where do you go?” asks Lightfoot. “Where do you go where you aren’t surrounded by 20-year-olds jumping around doing plyometrics?”
Lightfoot decided to spring into action and became certified to teach Essentrics, the stretching-based exercise taught in Stretch To Live classes. She rents studio space from DeCore Fitness Studio to teach classes.
In addition to the zero-impact style of fitness classes, Lightfoot wanted Stretch To Live to offer a workout environment that felt welcoming for those participating. “There is a need in this town for something where there is a smaller environment, and where we know the women who walk through the door,” Lightfoot says.
To achieve this, Lightfoot, along with instructor Shelaine Moreno, works with small classes. “I want to know every woman who walks through the door, and I want to know every challenge you have had – cancer, neck injury, back injury, whatever – I want to know it.”
At Stretch To Live, Lightfoot’s clients range in age from their mid-thirties to their mid-seventies and most of them had one thing in common when they began at Stretch To Live. “They are all beginners,” says Lightfoot, “but our clients who start with us don’t leave us. They are there for the long haul.”
Perhaps most importantly, Lightfoot wants to dispel the notion that a zero impact class will not make a difference for your body. “People think that they really have to beat their bodies up, and that’s just not true,” says Lightfoot. “People think it is just stretching,” she says. “That’s what makes what we do so unique, because it is actually fitness. It is a fitness class, and it will make a difference for your body.”
You can learn more by visiting www.stretchtolive.com, which includes information about sessions on the homepage. Lightfoot notes that the first session is always free, but visitors need to contact her before heading to a class to confirm space availability.