I have never been flexible. Ever. I remember when I took dance lessons in elementary school the other girls could touch their toes, but I was bending my knees to get the same results. By the time I got to middle school, other dancers were doing splits while I was struggling to sit in a v-sit. I have always been envious of the people who seemed like they could bend their bodies in half, but I had never been motivated to actually join their ranks. By the end of last semester, I had had enough with how my life was going; we’d all seemingly placed our lives on hold due to the pandemic. I wanted to spice up my routine and have it be something that could bring some positive change to my life. So, beginning on January 4th, I started the Blogilates Beginners Workout Calendar to start rebuilding my strength. Blogilates is a YouTube channel and blog run by Cassey Ho, a pop pilates instructor. After each workout, I decided to do one of her stretching videos. This is what I have learned throughout this journey so far:
- Stretching can HURT.
Obviously, it shouldn’t hurt so badly that it feels like an injury, but you are manipulating your muscles in ways they’re not used to. Throughout the course of my beginner’s workout especially, I sometimes felt that the stretching videos were more difficult than the workout videos were. My muscles were not used to being bent or extended in the way that I was now forcing them to. I always assumed that stretching was something that was supposed to be easy, but it is not. It’s just as challenging as other workouts and requires just as much effort to see change.
- In order to see results, you need to be consistent.
I feel like this is hammered into your brain throughout your whole life, but it’s a cliche for a reason. In order to get your muscles used to moving in these new ways, you need to stretch every single day. Try to find at least 15 minutes a day to stretch, even if it is right before bed or right when you get up. Before January 4th, I had not incorporated stretching into my daily routine since high school, and even then it was only during P.E. Now, I can’t imagine a day without it.
- Patience is KEY.
Sometimes you will feel like you’re not making any progress or you can feel like you have regressed. Stretching is one of those activities that you will start to notice the results, so I have found that I always need to remember where I started whenever I feel like I cannot stretch as far as I could the day before. You begin to appreciate your body where it is and your body’s ability to improve when you allow it to.
- Stretching is easier and safer when you warm up your muscles first.
You always need to warm up your muscles before you stretch. I have found that stretching after different types of workouts is easier. Whenever it’s leg day, I find that I am more flexible once I’m done with my workout videos than if it was arm day. The warmer your muscles are, the further you will be able to stretch them without risk of injury. This ties back into my point about patience: some workouts will lend better to your stretching than others, so you need to be patient with your body.
- Everyone is on their own fitness journey, and you need to come to terms with where you are.
Something that I really enjoy about Cassey’s videos is that she admits that she is not perfect. She always tells us to not compare ourselves to anyone else except the person we were yesterday. One of my favorite Cassey quotes from a stretching video is, “Now everyone’s level of flexibility is totally different. You are going to be grateful for how far you can reach today and tomorrow you’re going to reach a little bit farther and it takes time.” Hearing her say this encouraged me to keep doing these videos every day, even when I was propping myself up since I could not sit with my legs out in front of me.
- You will begin to enjoy your stretching, which is something I never thought would happen.
There were some days where I did not feel like working out, or I would be doing a workout that I just wanted to give up on, but I didn’t. Why? Because I knew that after I worked out or finished the video that felt like it would kill me, I would be able to do my stretching video. I would be able to do something that I know I’ve been improving on and seeing real results in. Completing these stretching videos relaxes me and centers my mind for the rest of the day.
If you’re like me and have never been able to touch your toes, but you would like to start improving that, I cannot recommend Blogilate’s stretching videos enough. It’s been almost two months since I’ve started and I can now touch my toes and my v-sit is wider than it has ever been. I had always had a horrible relationship with my flexibility, but now I’m improving it day by day. If you’re wondering which stretching videos I have been using, they are Total Body Stretch and Stretches You Need After a Stressful Day. I encourage you to go on your own flexibility journey, it’s definitely something that I have enjoyed and will continue to enjoy!