Chris Tarro speaks with the conviction of a true believer and even has an origin story that includes plenty of doubt. The former restaurateur – he owned the Siena restaurants with his brother before leaving to open his first StretchLab in the Dave’s Plaza at 1000 Division Street – recounts how he first heard about StretchLab from his sister.
“My sister lives in California and she was training for a half marathon and she started going to this place called StretchLab – I’d never heard of it. She couldn’t stop bragging about what it did for her so I started going for my sciatic to the one in Wellesley, Mass., because that was the closest one,” he said, referring to sciatic nerve pain.
It helped. At the same time, Tarro was looking to change careers. He wanted more traditional hours so he could spend more time with his children.
“We started the restaurants and we had great success. But my kids got older and I wanted to be home for the last four to five years before they go to college,” Tarro said.
The more time he spent at that StretchLab, the more interested he became.
“I started looking at the potential,” he said, quoting the old Hair Club for Men adage: “I’m not just the owner, I’m a client!”
But what exactly is StretchLab?
The idea is to help people at all levels of fitness – older people with mobility issues, hardcore athletes needing help staying at top form, and everyone in the middle – people who just want to be their best at whatever it is they do.
The problem with stretching on our own is it’s easy to get discouraged. Darn it if our toes didn’t used to be closer! And stretching can be seen as an after activity. Most of us are moving fast through our days. Spending that extra 10 minutes or so after every workout to stretch – we know it’s a good idea but it’s easy to skip.
“We all know we should be doing more stretching in life. I always joke, we all know we should floss more often and better than we do. We all know we should be stretching more,” say Tarro. “What I really liked [about StretchLab] was the universal appeal.”
You go for a 25- or 50-minute appointment. At your first session, the “flexologist” will figure out your baseline as you share your needs and concerns. No special gear – just wear comfortable clothes. And don’t worry. They are not aiming to turn you into a contortionist. It’s about increasing your flexibility, whether you need that to be able to better play with your grandkids or tackle the ski slopes or you are hoping to compete as a figure skater in the Olympics one day (the EG studio has two such aspirants as clients right now).
The experience can feel a bit like you are Tom Brady, working to be able to stay fit and Super Bowl-ready in your 40s.
Tarro joked that with Brady announcing his retirement, Tarro’s lost his best salesman. After all, he said, “Tom Brady is all about pliability and flexibility. There has to be a happy medium between braun and flexibility – people find that balance here.”
StretchLab is a franchise business and Tarro has the rights to open two more in Rhode Island. You can go in for a single stretch or buy a three- or five-pack, or get a membership. Find out more on their website HERE.