A lot of people think you can’t combine booze and group fitness—at least not simultaneously, but a class developed by Master Personal Trainer Craig Ramsay called Stretch A Reason To Wine is proving that belief wrong.
If Craig’s name sounds familiar it is because you’ve definitely seen him on Bravo. He was featured on Thintervention With Jackie Warner as well as Newlyweds: The First Year along with his very handsome husband, Brandon Liberati. For over a year now, Ramsay has been teaching people to stretch both their muscles and expectations of what a group fitness class can be.
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Several years in the making, Ramsay was inspired by wine-loving clients to develop Stretch. Many of the people he trains, especially the Real Housewives, will eschew certain things to look and feel their best on camera—but much like creating drama with each other, those women won’t give up their wine anytime soon. According to Ramsay, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
He explained there are many health benefits to moderate consumption of wine including “helping to combat cardiovascular disease, lowering blood pressure and releasing relaxing hormones in the body.” He says this allows you to “focus your attention on the muscles, narrow down your thoughts, and slow down to be able to properly breathe with your stretching.”
So what exactly happens during a Stretch class? It’s kicked off in the best way you can imagine—with a bubbly toast of champagne or sparkling rose. Ramsay says, “The toast brings us together to celebrate fitness, health and our bodies.” He then offers a wide variety of wines to go along with his wide variety of stretches. After the toast, he typically starts with a white wine such as pinot grigio. He then moves to more buttery, creamy, smoother chardonnays to inspire smoother, more flowing stretches. Then he “gets low with Merlot,” focusing on the medium center of the body and core with the medium wines. For the next tasting, he offers full-bodied reds that are “earthy and grounded” for more full-bodied stretches.
Ramsay taught this class all over the U.S. as well as throughout the world. He does private sessions, bachelorette parties, girls’ nights out, and of course the one place where you can’t really serve enough alcohol—family reunions. At those events, he brings along sparkling Kevita for the kiddos or adults who choose not to imbibe. He wants to make sure everyone can participate. Stretch is also a popular choice for corporate and team-building events. He will even use a conference table to help leverage people while they stretch.
Talking to Ramsay, he really emphasized to me that participants of the class don’t need to be budding sommeliers or really into fitness to enjoy it.
“We laugh through the whole thing. People are always a little hesitant at first because [unlike most group fitness classes], this has never been done before. These brave souls show up and by the second tasting they are hooked. To date, there hasn’t been one participant that has not stated it was the most fun fitness class they’ve ever taken.”
Ramsay explained, “Wine helps you to check your inhibitions at the door and to relax. For people who typically don’t enjoy a group fitness class because of insecurity, the wine will help them feel different with this type of group social fitness experience.”
But even if you leave your inhibitions at the door, at Stretch you can’t always leave your emotions, especially considering the world we live in today. “Stretching is a personally intimate experience,” says Ramsay, “Our bodies hold on to tightness and stress from episodes that happen in our lives. When we stretch and focus on those parts of our body, it revisits the emotional aspects of those situations, but not the specific happening.”
People definitely react to all of this in class. “They will start tearing up or laughing—be enthusiastically happy, mad or angry. I allow those emotions to come out. It’s very important in healing your body. Whether it’s corporate or personal—everyone comes to class with baggage and I really just admire people for showing up.”
While Ramsay’s home is Los Angeles, he doesn’t currently have a home studio for Stretch. However, that is something he wants to do in the future. He told me, “Everyone that has taken the class wants to take it often. The demand is there. Everyone wants a excuse to wine about their fitness.”
In the meantime, you can still participate at home. Ramsay will do “mini tastes” on Facebook Live. He asks viewers what their favorites wines are and he will suggest a stretch pairing.