A couple years ago, a curious thing happened: Suddenly everyone wanted a special exercise studio just to work out their butt. The big fitness chains took note, and butt-focused classes soon filled the schedules. And then, just as suddenly, it wasn’t just the butt. This past May, something called FaceGym opened a location in midtown: There, athleisure-clad aestheticians sculpt your cheekbones and jawline by manipulating 40-odd facial muscles to a pulsing ’90s-pop playlist. That same month, Stretch*d, a studio that helps stiff New Yorkers loosen up everything from their necks to their ankles, arrived in the Flatiron. This type of singular training isn’t simply a way for new studios to differentiate themselves in a saturated market. According to New York Sports Club trainer Amira Lamb, who specializes in all things feet, focusing on overlooked parts can positively affect the rest of the body. Strengthening an underactive pelvic floor (which you can do at pelvic-floor-focused Fit Pregnancy Club), for instance, can help with back pain. Stephen Pasterino, whose gym, P.volve, concentrates on hard-to-get-at muscle groups like the inner thighs, agrees. “Phase one of the fitness movement was about sweat and burn,” he says. “I think phase two is about those smaller muscles. Whether or not hiring a trained specialist to stretch out your pinkie toe can fix your posture and improve your balance, at the very least it’ll feel wonderful.
Where to Exercise
Stretch*d (27 W. 20th St.), a studio entirely focused on stretching and elongating various parts of the body, opened in May.
The Benefits: Stretch*d offers two toe-specific exercises: webbing, in which a practitioner slowly separates each toe, and toe flexing, wherein the toes are pulled up and back. Both are meant to support overall foot health and combat arthritis, according to Stretch*d co-founder (and SLT founder) Amanda Freeman. “We put a lot of wear and tear on our feet,” she says, “via exercise and the shoes we wear — which are generally not the best, foot-wise. Toe health impacts foot health, and foot health impacts everything else: from your back, to your legs, to your knees, to your core.” Plus, she says, well-stretched toes can improve balance.
*This article appears in the March 18, 2019, issue of New York Magazine. Subscribe Now!