Yes, You Can Become More Flexible
Becoming more limber is easier than you think, we promise.
Words By Dana Meltzer Zepeda
You may be a boss on the Bike and run like the wind on your Tread, but if the very thought of doing full splits or backward bends leaves you quaking in your spinning shoes, rest assured, you aren't alone. Just hearing the word “flexibility” can conjure up images of contortionists wrapping their legs around their head, but the truth is that becoming more limber is actually far less intimidating than it seems.
Anyone who's ever incorporated stretching or yoga into their workout routine knows that mastering the moves can help prevent injuries, improve your range of motion and boost your athletic performance. Here, Peloton instructors Adrian Williams (Tread and strength) and Denis Morton (cycling and yoga) open up about how flexibility plays a starring role in their own training regimens—and why it should in yours too.
Get Visible Results
There are countless reasons to try a full-body stretch or yoga class, experts say. “Flexibility improves workouts and prevents injuries by strengthening under-active muscles and stretching over-active ones to reduce imbalance,” Denis says. “This allows us to withstand more physical stress, making us less likely to incur injuries during activity.”
You'll also see big benefits in your overall performance. “For anyone who is an avid runner or does strength training, you are constantly working towards maintaining mobility which helps improve joint function,” Denis says. “Having your joints function properly improves balance, aids in flexibility and improves strength, making you an overall better athlete.”
Try not to get discouraged if just touching your toes feels like a lofty goal right now. Our instructors promise you'll get there eventually. “The hardest part is always starting,” Adrian says. “I would start with something digestible and attainable.” For someone new to flexibility work, he recommends trying 15 to 20 minutes three to four times a week. “Once you feel confident,” he adds, “I would do seven days a week for 30 minutes a day. It should be reflective of your day-to-day life.”
And, remember, you aren't alone on your fitness journey. The Peloton community is with you every step of the way. “It's absolutely possible to become more flexible!” Denis says. “I would recommend any of my 10-minute hip flows because the benefits are so obvious and encouraging, but there are lots of 10- to 20-minute stretch and beginner yoga flows you can do three to five times a week.”
Lead by Example
Our Peloton instructors don't just talk the talk. They also walk the walk, incorporating plenty of stretching into their own workout routines. “Teaching yoga is the greatest gift, as far as staying balanced with cycling and other forms of training,” Denis says. “It forces me to stretch and flow on days I might otherwise not, giving me built-in consistency, which is half the battle!”
Adrian is also adamant about incorporating foam rolling, stretching and yoga into his own workout routine. “This may sound a little like overkill, but I roll and stretch every single day,” he says. “It’s become for me what you would consider your morning coffee. My flexibility work consists of two things: myofascial release and stretching. I've also become quite obsessed with Denis’ 'Reset' series. Learning to control your breath through the practice of yoga will help a great deal in your flexibility work. Yoga, yoga, yoga!”
Consistency Is Key
Even if you can't take a yoga class or stretch every single day, try to remember that doing something is always better than nothing. “The best starting point is wherever you are today,” Denis says. So give yourself grace on days when you can't find time to work on your flexibility.
Patience is also essential. “We live in this world where people want things right away,” Adrian says. “There's a quote that I love and always share: 'Never give up because great things take time.' It’s cliché but the journey is the most amazing part. With fitness, I always like to think there is no actual destination. It's like we’re on a never-ending backpacking trip. You may want to do different things along the way and that’s okay. Always leave room for yourself to flex, but also be kind to yourself.”
Ready to increase your flexibility? Try a yoga or full-body stretch class on the Peloton App!
Dana Meltzer Zepeda