If there’s one thing I don’t do often enough, it’s stretch. Even in my past life as an athlete, I stretched on an infrequent basis, which often led to tight muscles and sprains.
Hakika DuBose, owner of Power Stretch Studios and founder of the KIKA Method—an assisted stretching technique that incorporates breathing patterns—aims to help clients relax and prevent pain by unlocking tension in their muscles.
“This is different than yoga or physical therapy. We aim to teach you about your body and your limits,” says DuBose. “We customize sessions for each client, and we follow your lead. We teach you how to maintain your stretching at home.”
Imagine lying on a mat and having someone help take away tension trapped inside your body. That’s how DuBose describes her assisted stretching sessions.
At Power Stretch Studios, the goal is to help clients increase flexibility and reduce tension. Other benefits of stretching with the KIKA Method include relief from muscular pain, increased circulation and energy, improved range of motion and decreased back pain.
DuBose, who studied dance at Montclair State University before working as a professional dancer and actor, was motivated to start her business after the birth of her son. She realized she could help people by utilizing her skills as a dancer in a way that also worked with her schedule.
She opened her first Power Stretch Studios location in Montclair in 2011 and has since expanded, with to Westfield, Manhattan and Florida. (Later this year, the company’s name will change to Kika Stretch Studios.)
I recently visited the Westfield location for my first stretch session with Hakika. I filled out a brief medical history, and together we talked about the areas of my body I was feeling pain, tightness or both. Like many of Power Stretch Studios’ clients, I spend a good deal of my workday hunched over my keyboard, which leads to tension and soreness in my neck and shoulders.
Before getting started, I was measured in “stretch years,” which involved sitting on a mat with my legs extended and reaching as far as I comfortably could to my toes. From there, Hakika stretched me in various positions, assisting me in holding poses I wouldn’t be able to do on my own. Throughout the session, she reminded me to breathe, which calmed me while the tension in my muscles was released. At the end of the session, she measured my stretch years again; I gained 1.5 inches of flexibility in just one session.
As someone who lives alone, without anyone to help me hold certain stretches, I can easily see the appeal of Power Stretch Studios. I felt release in muscles in my neck and back almost immediately and left my appointment with an endorphin high.
Though you do burn some calories—up to 125 calories in a 45-minute session—stretching with the KIKA Method is to be done in addition to, not in place of, regular exercise. And it’s made for all ages. “Our youngest client is eight,” says DuBose, “and our oldest is 87.”
Sessions cost $80 for 45 minutes and $90 for 60 minutes. Packages are offered at a slight discount: $750 for 10 45-minute sessions and $850 for 10 60-minute sessions.
Power Stretch Studios (Westfield)
66 Elm Street
Power Stretch Studios (Montclair)
581 Valley Road