LIVINGSTON, NJ – After a successful first month in business, Livingston’s new assisted stretching franchise, StretchLab, hosted a celebratory ribbon cutting in conjunction with the Livingston Area Chamber of Commerce (LACC) and the township council on Friday.
According to owner Dave Weaving, a Chatham resident with a vision of opening two additional StretchLab sites in the area of Route 24, Livingston’s studio will introduce people of all ages, fitness levels, genders and sizes to the various health and wellness benefits of assisted stretching.
Following his recent retirement as a chief administrative officer, Weaving was itching to transition to business ownership. He explored several franchise concepts—including blow dry bars, weight-loss centers, dry cleaners and more—but was immediately sold on StretchLab after receiving his first one-on-one, personalized stretching session.
“I knew I needed to do something—too much free time,” he said. “One of the [franchise] consultants said, ‘I have this concept, it’s new.’ And I’m usually not a bleeding-edge person—I mean, I’m an accountant by trade—but I looked at this and it was intriguing to me for a couple of reasons…I believe in what we do, and I thought it was a great way to learn about how to run my own business.”
As StretchLab is owned by the same company as the popular Club Pilates franchise, Weaving was confident in its potential for growth. And if there was ever any doubt, Weaving said his two daughters, Kaitlyn and Nicole, assuaged it.
“My 16 year old [Kaitlyn] looked at me and said, ‘Dad, for years you’ve been telling Nicole and me, “Don’t be like me, keep stretching,”’ and that’s an exact quote that I used around the house all the time,” said Weaving. “When I heard that, I picked up the phone, called [the president of StretchLab] and said I’m in. I signed my franchise agreement in the end of April, started looking for real estate, came across this place and I personally love the location.”
Now officially settled in at 184 S. Livingston Avenue, Weaving said he is thrilled to be conveniently located between a “big draw store” like CVS Pharmacy and what he believes “has to be one of the busiest UPS Stores in the country.”
He added that he is also extremely enthusiastic about being in a town like Livingston, where he feels he can really be involved in the community. In fact, since the stretching industry is not a direct competitor with any other businesses in town, Weaving said he has already had promising conversations with several other fitness facilities about ways to collaborate.
Thirty days after the Livingston facility’s soft opening, Weaving proudly announced that he has nearly 160 members and has loved “seeing people feel better when they leave.”
“It’s about the fact that I believe in what we do,” he said of his decision to introduce this concept to the area. “You think of the three phases of exercise—weight training, cardio and flexibility/mobility—and most people, if they only do one, are either doing cardio or weights. If they’re doing two, it’s cardio and weights. But if you’re really only going to do one, it probably should be the flexibility.”
In explanation of how StretchLab works, Weaving compared it to receiving a massage.
“I love my massage therapist, but two days after I’ve been for a massage, my body doesn’t know I’ve been for a massage,” said Weaving, who is currently being stretched once a week. “I’m three inches closer to my toes now, and I have less back pain now. That’s what we’re trying to get people to understand: [flexibility] is a repetitive item, you can continually improve in this area and you don’t have to be the world’s greatest athlete to do it.”
StretchLab offers a variety of services: a 25-minute stretch that concentrates on areas to focus on the client’s current stretching needs, and a 50-minute head-to-toe deep stretch that addresses all major muscle groups. Two small-group stretching classes are also available, where a trained “Flexologist” leads clients through a warm up and sequence of stretches to address major muscle groups.
“Flexologist” is the name given to the highly trained individuals who conduct the personalized stretching services. According to Weaving, who currently has eight full-time Flexologists and is already looking to hire more, their varied backgrounds include physical therapists, licensed massage therapists (LMT), LMT-Yogi combos, etc.
“One of the things we do is talk to you beforehand to understand who we actually think is the best fit for you,” said Weaving, who added that some members already have a “regular Flexologist” they prefer. “We have some [members] who are a little bit more holistic in their approach, and there are others who are looking for a more hardcore stretch or someone who’s going to take them and bend them in half…
“Part of it is also whether you want to be with a Flexologist who you’re going to have a live dialogue with throughout the entire thing, or you want someone who is only going to talk to you about specific things you need to do for your stretch. I have people of all different personalities and a wide spectrum of people that we can match you with.”
According to the StretchLab website, Flexologists are required to complete a vigorous training program that includes more than 100 hours of theory and hands-on training where they learn about the muscular system, a variety of assisted stretches and exactly how to work with a variety of clients.
“I think one of the big things that makes us unique is the training program,” said Weaving. “We have [StretchLab Director of Education] Brad Walker, the guy who wrote the books [on the anatomy of stretching], and to me that’s very important.
"There are a lot of concepts out there where people just learn a routine and when you ask why they’re doing it they don’t know—they just know because that’s what they were told to do. There are massage therapists who say, ‘This is the way I was taught to do it,’ as opposed to understanding how the body functions.”
At StretchLab, personalized stretches are designed to increase mobility and flexibility, helping to reduce pain, decrease muscle aches, improve posture, reduce recovery time and enhance quality of life.
Friday’s ribbon cutting was led by recently re-elected Livingston council member Shawn Klein, who was accompanied by LACC executive director Beth Lippman and members of both the LACC and the StretchLab team.
Highlights of the grand opening also included a special appearance from StretchLab President Lou DeFrancisco, refreshments courtesy of David Allen and raffle prizes there were given away on site.
Monthly memberships are available for four or eight visits per month, as well as drop-in classes. Intro deals are also currently available at StretchLab Livingston, which can be reached at (973) 738-2000. Visit www.stretchlab.com to learn more.