It’s always great to come back to Gainesville.  The highlights of my trip are always the fabulous dinners at Mama’s house with my family and friends, seeing my niece Sloane, catching up with old friends, and getting new ideas to add to my workout routine.

My two workout buddies (Debbie Lee and Laurie Glass) and I got together for a “workout reunion” today.  Every Sunday, rain or shine, we would meet up for a great workout…no matter how hard I tried to convince them to skip the “endurance crap” in exchange for a skinny vanilla latte at Starbucks.   We lucked out when Laurie (who now lives in Stillwater, Oklahoma–Wave the Wheat) and I happened to be in town at the same time.  The fast twitch girl (me) was relieved when there weren’t enough bikes left in the Spin class (which ended up lasting for over an HOUR) so we focused on lots of strength and flexibility exercises.

I asked Debbie and Laurie, who both teach killer group exercise classes, to show me their favorite stretches.  Now, let me be clear:  these stretches are not fun.  It seems like ex-gymnasts and dancers are the only people who really enjoy stretching.  For the rest of us, it’s painful.  Period.  But, I know it’s something we all need to do especially as we get older.

The first stretch is called the Pigeon Pose and it’s hard.  I live next to a park that has a lot of pigeons and I can honestly tell you that I’ve never seen a pigeon in this position. Maybe they get that way on a plate in Paris when they’re being served under the fancy name of Squab.  Anyway, I’m sharing the advice of my two good friends so why not give it a try?

Position yourself on an exercise mat with one leg in front with your knee in a 90 degree angle.
Shift your weight and straighten your back leg out like you are trying to do the splits.  The front of your thigh should be facing the floor.   If you can manage this pose, lean your torso as far forwards as you can.  You will feel an unbelievable stretch on your hip flexors and quads on the back leg and the piriformis muscle on the front leg.  When you repeat this exercise on the other leg, you’ll find that one side is a little easier than the other.  This is good to know since you can spend some extra time on the tighter side.

The second stretch, the Extreme Quad Stretch is “painful but necessary” according to Laurie.

  Place your back foot up against a wall like you see in this picture.  You don’t need to make it flat against the wall–simply do what you can comfortably.  It was a really good quad stretch until Laurie made us lift our arms over our heads.
Hmmm….that made it a lot harder.  She does this in her Yoga class back in Stillwater and told us that it has gotten a lot easier and she has gained a lot of flexibility in her hips and legs.

Thanks to my buds for being the perfect stretching models!  And now it’s your turn.  Give them a try and tell us what you think.  If you know a variation of these or have any other great stretches, please share them with us.

Be Strong AND Flexible,