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New Solana Beach studio is all about the stretch

Angie Cohen hopes to help people live long, improve their flexibility and find some relief and relaxation with the newly opened Stretch Lab in Solana Beach. The Del Mar resident brought the LA-based boutique health and wellness studio to Solana Beach’s Beach Walk Shopping Center, offering one-on-one assisted stretching in what she hopes will be a welcoming and fun environment.

Cohen said over 200 members signed up before they even opened their doors thanks to holding pop-up events at fitness studios all over town.“It’s the self-care, recovery space that people were really hungry for,” said Cohen.

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A flexologist at work at Stretch Lab. Karen Billing

“People are doing these really hard core workouts and nobody stretches!”

At Stretch Lab, a flexologist works with clients one-on-one to identify tightness and imbalances in the body and customize a 25- or 50-minute stretch session. A good stretch can help people increase range of motion and flexibility, reduce muscle and joint pain, improve posture, boost sports performance and, most simply, feel better.

Founded in Venice in 2015, Stretch Lab has now expanded to 15 locations nationwide and continues to expand its reach—Cohen will open her second and third locations in Carmel Valley and La Jolla in the coming year. Stretch Lab falls under parent company Xponential Fitness, which includes the fitness brands CycleBar, Club Pilates, Yoga Six, Pure Barre, rowing concept Row House and AKT, a dance-based cardio workout founded by celebrity trainer Anna Kaiser.

The company is working toward an all-encompassing membership that would allow members to access all seven fitness studios under one membership, a perk that greatly appealed to Cohen as a potential franchisee.

Nearly all of the group’s concepts can already be found in Carmel Valley and Row House is looking to open in Solana Beach and Del Mar. AKT has not yet come to San Diego.

“I love boutique fitness, I’m a junkie,” Cohen said. “I love the community feel, I love the feeling that we’re all in it together.”

She especially loved the concept of Stretch Lab— after having back surgery at age 22, she understands the importance and the benefits of stretching.

“What attracted me to Stretch Lab is that it’s for everybody and every body,” Cohen said, noting it can be for a 70-year-old with a more sedentary lifestyle or an 11-year-old ballerina; weekend warriors or someone recovering from an injury.

Stretch Lab offers clients the ability to meet their individual goals whether it’s to improve their range of motion for their golf game or to be able to touch their toes.

Cohen came to Stretch Lab after spending 15 years in corporate America as a busy pharmaceutical sales manager, on a plane four days out of the week.

Cohen felt like she had no life balance and wanted something different, originally pursuing opening up a spin studio as spinning was her passion. She hired a franchising consultant, started attending franchising workshops and reading all the books to learn the business side inside and out. While she was focused solely on spin studios, her consultant encouraged her to consider other options, leading her to look at super foods cafes and stretch studios.

Cohen went for an exploratory stretch in Los Angeles and it was a game-changer. “I felt like I was home,” said Cohen after she met with the Stretch Lab team, who were just beginning franchising opportunities.

While spinning might have had her heart, Cohen said Stretch Lab had her gut, her head and her heart: “It was new, fresh and it had never been done before. I thought it was really genius,” Cohen said.

She switched gears entirely and committed to Stretch Lab, signing on in June and putting in the down payment for three studios.

Stretch Lab uses the method of PNF or Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation, what Cohen calls “the gold standard of stretching.” Flexologists put you into a stretch position and have you contract certain muscles and hold the contraction for a few moments. They will use push and release stretches, guiding clients into deeper releases with each push and release, static holding stretches as well as dynamic stretching with movement. Flexologists will also utilize stretching tools like yoga straps, foam rollers and the hyper volt massaging device.

Clients are required to wear grip socks for safety, performance and hygiene as their feet are often all over the flexologists as they work their bodies.

All flexologists must go through over 100 hours of theory and hands-on training to be certified for Stretch Lab, as well as have two years of a national certification in health, wellness or fitness to qualify.

Cohen said Stretch Lab’s secret weapon is its director of education, Brad Walker—the “stretching guru” who designed the training curriculum is considered the world’s number one authority on stretching, flexibility and sports injury management.

Cohen has built her own “little family” with her crew of flexologists who bring along their own expertise and certifications in exercise science, neurological physical therapy and massage, as well as experience as elite athletes, yoga and spin instructors. “They’re just all so talented, I got really fortunate.” Cohen is trained as a flexologist but mostly for quality control and marvels at her flexologists’ abilities to “unlock the body” and achieve great results.

So far Cohen is enjoying the change of pace of her new work life and likes making personal connections with clients and seeing how Stretch Lab can have an impact on people’s lives.

Cohen said she wants everyone to feel welcome as soon as they come in the door, kick off their shoes and grab a stretch. She wants everyone to feel accepted no matter whether they’re young or old, if they’ve never worked out a day in their life or are sore from cardio boot camp.

“I want everybody to feel like they have a place to go,” Cohen said.

Stretch Lab will hold a grand opening celebration on Saturday, Jan. 12 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. featuring free 15-minute demo stretches and group demo stretch class, giveaways and raffle prizes, including a free membership.

For first time clients, Stretch Lab offers a 25-minute introductory stretch for $28 as well as a free two week group stretch pass. Book your first appointment at local.stretchlab.com/location/solanabeach or call (858) 793-3539.

Stretch Lab is located at 437 South Highway 101 in Solana Beach’s Beach Walk Shopping Center.

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