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stretchlab_losangelesWe all know the drill… You’re coming to the end of your workout. The music’s signalling your last big, give-it-your-all push. “4, 3, 2, 1!” yells your hot fitness instructor, as you and the rest of the sweat-drenched class melt to the floor. The tempo gets mellow and it’s time to cool down. And nearly everyone who’s paid their $30…leaves the room. You know, before stretching.

“We always neglect the cool down part,” says Steve Suddell, co-owner of Los Angeles’ pioneering new concept called Stretch Lab. It’s not a fitness studio. It’s a fitness-supplementing studio.

It’s a place where people who “forget” to stretch go.

It’s not that people won’t cool down, he finds. But it turns out they want a separate boutique stretch session costing between $25–$40 (in addition to their boutique fitness classes) to help them do so. Ah, the ironies.

Stretch Lab opened on Venice’s Rose Avenue on June 5 (next door to Cafe Gratitude), and the one-on-one personal stretching service has been packed ever since with walk-ins and appointments.

stretchlabThe “massage model but with stretching” concept comes from a trio of diehards, who believe we could all use to be a bit more healthy limber: lawyer-writer Saul C. Janson; his personal trainer of 17 years, former-Marine Tim Trost; and physical therapist and personal trainer Steve Sudell.

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So what happens at a stretching studio?

Where a spa sends you off into a private massage enclave for bodywork under a sheet in your skivvies, Stretch Lab’s an open, breezy, and friendly space where everyone’s got their yoga pants on and is getting rolled out like athletes at the Olympics. It’s the opposite of a hush-hush spa vibe. “When you experience it, you get it,” Suddell says, and I’d agree, as I’m stretched out among a handful of other (almost groaning) clients on tables around me.

The team of Stretch Lab “flexologists” is made up of yoga instructors, dancers, massage therapists, and physical therapists, Janson explains. So “the flavor of each stretch session will be different based on your flexologist’s discipline.”

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You can book 20, 30 or 40 minutes—with the 40 minutes, including “electric massage” (high frequency massage stimulation therapy you may have had in the PT’s office) and time for work on smaller muscles like those in the neck, hands, and wrists.

While most Stretch Lab clients go post-workout for maximum rejuvenation, word on the street is that some yogis are getting their Stretch Lab fix before rolling out their mats to enhance their practice—or “to cheat,” as Janson jokes.

In truth, the place is packed with fitness instructors, boutique fitness junkies, surfers, and those who might have been nursing an injury but go to boot camp instead. Ouch. Oh, and all those people who leave their workout early. —Kara Griffin

Stretch Lab, 512 Rose Ave.,Venice, CA, 90291, (310) 450-2510, www.stretchlabvenice.com

(Photos: Kara Griffin for Well+Good; Stretch Lab)

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