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By C. Jayden Smith
Rarely does a random first-time experience have a substantial impact down the line, but one such incident has resulted in the founding of a new boutique fitness business opening in San Clemente.
Clark Fielding, along with his wife Moranda, and longtime friends Andrew and Ashly Lark, are celebrating the grand opening of StretchLab at the Outlets at San Clemente from Thursday, Aug. 18, through Saturday, Aug. 20.
In February 2020, the StretchLab staff from the Irvine location did a pop-up, including demonstration stretches, to promote their opening at Fielding’s law firm office. When he tried it, he was immediately hooked, and signed up for a membership, which he has continued to the present day.
“At a certain point, (while) just loving that and realizing the importance of it, I thought, ‘Man, San Clemente should have this,’” Fielding said. “So, I wanted to bring it to town, to the community, and to family and friends.”
As the COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts were less severe nationwide, Fielding noticed that starting the location could be beneficial for people who had grown sedentary over the course of the previous year.
Another observation, made at the Irvine studio, was that he saw seniors, young athletes, and people who worked at a desk like him, all come in to get stretched, and Fielding realized how important a good stretch was for everyone to access.
After getting his wife and friends on board, the group reached out to the StretchLab parent company, Xponential, in January 2021, went through the vetting process, and secured the rights to establish a studio in San Clemente.
Through a personal connection with Steve Craig, owner of the Outlets’ parent company Craig Realty, they learned a spot would become available at the shopping center and jumped at the opportunity.
Fielding said the studio had its soft opening in late May 2022 but started making appearances of its own in the months prior.
Inside the storefront, there are 10 tables, stocked with foam rollers and headrests, along with StretchLab merchandise, including clothing, water bottles, and Hyperice massage devices. There is a proprietary machine located in the back room, with which the stretch therapists, or “flexologists,” help clients to understand what procedures are necessary for their bodies.
“It does a body scan, and assesses your mobility, activation, posture, and symmetry,” said Fielding.
All the studio’s therapists, of which there are currently eight on staff, have certifications through a kinesiology degree or as a certified yoga instructor that helped them qualify for StretchLab’s corporate training program.
Within the program, they must pass a test and acquire in-person training hours to ensure they are well-credentialed to work with clients.
StretchLab members can attend either a 25-minute or 50-minute session, in which the therapists perform proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) stretching that pushes, pulls, and activates muscles. Fielding added that the Hyperice machines are also incorporated into the session.
The benefits of stretching include an increased range of motion, increased flexibility, improved performance, injury prevention, decreased recovery time, and decreased stress, according to Fielding.
During his first StretchLab experience, he was reminded of his days in gymnastics, when he learned the importance of deep stretches that has stayed with him.
“Having been through knee surgeries and a dislocated elbow situation where I’ve been with a physical therapist, I really know firsthand the benefit of one-on-one assisted exercises and motions and stretching,” Fielding said.
Despite his busy schedule, he still regularly attends sessions as part of his personal wellness plan, and with the official opening of his studio coming, he hopes to help the San Clemente community as well.
The studio’s current hours are from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, although it is looking to extend the weekday hours to close at 8 p.m.
C. Jayden Smith
C. Jayden Smith graduated from Dana Hills High in 2018 before pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in digital and broadcast journalism from the University of North Texas. After graduating in December 2020, he reported for the Salina Journal in Salina, Kansas. Jayden loves college football and bothering his black lab named Shadow.