The latest workout trend to land in the UAE isn’t another high-impact HIIT class, or spin on indoor cycling or new version of yoga. It’s Stick Mobility, and it’s all about making your body work better by increasing your range of movement, enhancing your neuromuscular awareness, improving your posture and creating better full-body strength.
“It’s very popular in the US already,” says Leo Nieves, education and career specialist at MeFitPro, the fitness solutions company that introduced the workout to the Dubai.
Stick mobility works in terms of strength and conditioning space. It is for the average gym goer through to people undergoing rehabilitation from injuries. The official program incorporates three elements into a standard class: joint mobilization and strength followed by deep stretching.
“People are starting to understand the importance of mobility and how that impacts their lives,” agrees Gary Barnett, marketing director of MeFitPro. “Most people don’t place value in mobility until they experience an injury and find it severely limited.”
Stick Mobility works to keep muscles loose and limber and helps limit injuries before they even start. This is particularly relevant in today’s long-hours, desk-based, poor-posture world. For instance, tightened hip flexors (the result of sitting down all day) can make the hamstrings overactive when your hip extends — creating the potential for injury.
“No matter what you’re trying to do and the skillset, mobility is the key to all of this,” says co-founder of Stick Mobility Dennis Dunphy. He began introducing the stick into a mobility practice five years ago, after meeting a chiropractor who used a stick to do yoga.
“We view mobility as you have to be strong in all the positions you get to, and we use the stick to get to that,” Dunphy adds. “We’re trying to recruit as many neighboring muscle fibers to be as strong as we can be.”
To understand the theory, Dunphy recommends paying attention to your morning yawn and stretch. You wil feel many muscles activate at once. That, he notes, is ‘radiation’, or using different elements of nearby muscles.
Meanwhile the hanging element of Stick Mobility is meant to activate the deep core — something, Dunphy notes, is often lost as we grow older.
“Everybody is all about pressing, or when they want to do hanging it’s about pull-ups. Sometimes it’s just… do you understand the feedback and what it feels like to hang for 20 seconds?”
A Stick Mobility class is about much more than stretching and although this is not a heart-pounding cardio workout, it is tough. The stick, which comes in three different lengths and has a bend to it, is used to help get the body into different and deeper positions than it would otherwise. It utterly transforms a standing side stretch, for example.
Teachers are just getting trained up on the modality through Mefitpro, but dozens of Dubai’s fitness influencers got a taste of this new workout recently at the launch of livehealthy.ae at Zabeel House The Greens gym Native Club. As Stick Mobility takes off worldwide, celebrities and big brands are increasingly on board. On the official Stick Mobility website, the company notes that professional sports teams like The Cincinnati Bengals, The Raiders, LA Rams, LA Angels,and several PGA golfers practice the technique. Even Zac Efron shared a photo of himself using stick mobility to help rehab from an ACL surgery.
While it might be tempting to grab a broom stick and start swinging it around, Nieves sounds a note of caution.
“Stick Mobility sticks are designed to have a specific malleability to accommodate different drills within the system,” he explains. “Another stick would not only be ineffective — it could also be dangerous.”
For health professionals wishing to learn this new fitness technique, Nieves recommends a background in anatomy and physiology.
• Stick Mobility is currently available as a MeFitPro two-day qualification course that is open to everyone, but it will soon be offered in a large hotel gym chain and through one-off events.
Featured image courtesy Mefitpro
Danae Mercer is a freelance health and travel journalist. In addition to working as editor-in-chief of Women's Health Middle East and Men's Health Middle East, Danae has written for The Sunday Times, CNN Travel, Dubai Tourism, The Guardian, Afar, Bloomberg and many more. She's based in Dubai and is a trainer at Crank. instagram.com/danaemercer