Kong Fit Contributor: Vicki Tieu
As I drove up and down La Cienega desperately looking for street parking, I had to pep talk myself, “This will be all worth it! You just finished LIT Method, now you can properly stretch out at SM Stretching and will feel ahhh-mazing tomorrow.” Well, surprise, surprise - I didn’t find street parking but I did feel pleasantly limber the next day.
The stretch session at SM Stretching was definitely not what I was expecting to experience coming in. I came in with the presumption that this was going to be a guided Stretch Pro type of session, where for the most part you will be stationary, perform some common stretches done either before or after a workout, and maybe lock into some recovery boots or target aching areas with the Hypervolt. Well, I was completely wrong - in a very refreshing and challenging way.
We started the session with a brief introduction to Samira Mustafaeva, the competitive gymnast founder of SM Stretching as well as super sweet Alexis, the lead instructor at the LA location, before moving into the 15 minute toning portion of the session. The toning session reminded me of the same thought that i had when KFC checked out Pure Barre in West Hollywood - “Crap...that was just the warm-up...we still have 45 minutes to go!”
The next 45 minutes, Samira lead the intimate class of 14-16 individuals through several poses and positions that challenged our bodies, our breathing, and our perception of what and how much we are capable of. When I bent as far as I could or flexed my hips as wide as I thought possible, Alexis or Samira would come by and straighten my leg or assist with my posture, reminding me to breathe. With an extra push, they helped me expand wider and/or move closer to the ground. While with each passing minute, my legs quivered a little more and sweat beads multiplied on my forehead, I found myself feeling more empowered to move deeper.
One of my favorite things about the studio was how all four walls were lined with mirrors as this allowed us to view and correct our postures. In addition, the mirrors allowed us to see the progress we make throughout the session as well! While I was still several inches away from completing flawless splits like my neighbors, I was thoroughly surprised and happy to see my own progress. Maybe with a few more sessions at SM Stretching, I’ll successfully do a split!
This was probably the hardest workout class that I’ve participated through KFC, let alone ever. It was an experience that surfaced my weakness and challenged me to face and work through the uncomfortable, showing me that you can grow to be at your strongest once you’re at your weakest.
@victorycarmichael / Vicki
Photos by @svetavider