The dawn of strategic fitness: Fascia

Welcome to the dawn of strategic fitness: Fascia

A class to reconfigure and repair your body. Tested out be member Tash Mayor

Fitness classes aimed at women used to be based on the notion that monotonous bouncing (like dancing, but without style or rhythm) would trick us into working up a sweat. Sweat was proof you were doing it right. Technique was not an issue. Whilst the ladies leapt about like epileptic kangaroos, the blokes were doing bicep curls - seated bicep curls. These guys couldn’t run for a bus or reach their shoelaces, but they could be proud of their pointlessly distended biceps. It was a simpler time. It was not a better time.

Fortunately, Centennial Health Club has developed a highly sophisticated new class to bring some strategic intelligence to our workouts. Hallelujah. Because even the fittest amongst us still want to improve our mobility, flexibility and resilience to injury.

Centennial Health Club’s “Fascia Release” is designed as a warm up to functional or strength-based training classes such as Spartan, Off The Wall, and Limitless. Think of it like pre-gaming before a big night out. It’s the transition stage between your studious or office-y self and beast you, who can bench press your body weight. If you spend your days desk-bound, this is the ideal aperitif before intense exercise.

Fascia Release starts with a warming sequence of full-body stretches to get our balance on point, lengthen our muscles and ease stiff joints into active mode.

Then you will be put into small groups to rotate through a series of four stations, starting with variations of the Samson stretch using resistance bands. You will be guided through the timing and given precise instructions and corrections throughout. A lot of it hurts – thus exposing the limits of my usual (half-assed) stretching regime.

The proof that this class works is in the personal best heavy lifts achieved in 1-rep max afterwards. I couldn’t stay, but after Fascia Release finished with some exquisitely painful ostrich walks, my two-mile run home felt quick and effortless.

Fascia Release focuses on alignment and recovery. This is revelatory. No longer do I view my postural quirks and muscular imbalances with resigned acceptance. The fact that one ankle is wobblier, my oblique abdominals are stronger on one side, my right rotator cuff tends to ache and so on… apparently these are curable. Fascia Release class gave me hope that I could heal wounds wrought by a life of tennis, boxing, running, heavy bags, high heels (ok maybe not) and hunching over a laptop. Again: halleluiah.

The class lasts 45 minutes and it's an education. The instructor Fabio, a Gymnast originally from Italia, talks almost non-stop, giving individual advice, explaining why we do each move and suggesting adaptations. He has a warm, generous tone and a lovely sense of humour (“No, your other right leg. Yes, that’s the one!). Fabio’s knowledge of functional training is evident, but this class is more diagnostic.

Although the pace is gentle and deliberate, we spend about 10 minutes on each of four main sequences. I’m kept alert by the flow of information, and the effort of testing different variations of each stretch. Looking around, it seems that everyone is as earnest in their attention, carefully repositioning those massage balls to provide the utmost agony.

We leave buoyed by the feeling of having really worked to correct years of damage.