Hear Me Out: the Best Full-Body Stretch Routine I’ve Ever Tried Came From a Clown

Photo: Getty Images/Michael Goldman
My name is Rachel Lapidos, and the best stretching routine that I've ever found during my time as a fitness editor is one that's taught by a clown.

Seriously: You can find amazing inspo anywhere if you just look for it! I've stolen moisturizing tips from a monkey frog (just look at her g-l-o-w) and gleaned uplifting mental health advice from a moth meme. So you can just consider it completely normal that I firmly believe that a specific clown has the best stretching moves ever and I'm stealing them for my own recovery regimen immediately. Needless to say, pitch meetings at Well+Good are a wild time. But I digress.

ANYWAY. Have you ever watched The Big Comfy Couch?  If you haven't been so fortunate to have seen the (children's) show, which was big in 1993, allow me to explain. It's about a clown woman—named Loonette, which makes me LOL every time I type it—and her doll Molly, who solve problems from the comfort of a ginormous couch. Considering they are l-i-t-e-r-a-l-l-y sedentary couch potatoes, they aren't exactly beacons of health. More like, beacons of amateur detective work, oversized furniture, and logic-defying hairstyles (... see below), if anything.

But somehow, Loonette thinks she can counteract that lazy lifestyle with a simple stretch, which truly makes her a woman after my own heart. Each episode, she teaches her stretch—called the "Clock Rug Stretch"—to the audience (which is... preschool children, so don't ask how I'm revisiting this). And as a fitness editor, I've gotta tell ya: Her methods are legit.

The Clock Rug Stretch involves lying on the floor—ideally with a clock face rug beneath you (there's one available on Amazon for 40 bucks)—and moving your legs together as if they're the hands of the clock.

"Do you ever roll around on the floor like me?" Loonette asks viewers, beckoning them (/me) to follow along with the movement that she's finally going to do after sitting on her ass all damn day. "Not really," I say to myself as I plop onto my imaginary clock rug, hypnotized and ready to copy whatever the hell this clown woman does next. (BTW I'm doing this at my office as a 31-year-old woman.)

If you don't want to watch 70 seconds worth of clown stretches, allow me to give you the highlights: You basically lie on your back (with your hair in pigtails if you want), and tock your legs all the way around in a circle, with a few fancy moves added in along the way.  Silly? Yes. 100 percent "yes" with a cherry on top. But effective? You betcha.

Hear me out: Your time on the clock (see what I did there?) will actually help to open up your hip flexors, and works as a dynamic stretch, which is what the pros (actual fitness pros, not, ya know, clowns) are all about.  And at the end of the series, Loonette clocks in (I'm sorry—I honestly can't stop) some hamstring, oblique and ab stretches before ending in a butterfly stretch, loosening up pretty much every muscle in her body.

While you don't have to totally copy her methods (and can probably skip out on the whole "rolling around like a preschooler" part, unless that's your thing), I, for one, went all in. And when I came to (after completing a stretch with a clown... as an adult woman...), my body felt noticeably more open, including all of the Barry's Bootcamp-induced tightness in my hips and hammies. Laugh at me all you want, but this stretching routine is no joke. Big apologies to all of the physical therapists and fitness trainers I've ever talked to for stretching tips, but Loonette the Clown has the best stretching routine of all time.

BTW, this is why flexibility is so important for your overall body health. And here's how to stretch your calves properly because they get tight really easily. 

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