Flexibility 101 with Marta Baley

how should i stretch

Everything you wanted to know about Flexibility and Contortion training with Marta Baley!

How should I stretch? When? And WHY?

We sat with Marta, a professional contortionist and flexibility trainer, to learn her secrets for efficient and rewarding flexibility training, answering all of your most commonly asked questions –

How often should I stretch?

I recommend 3-4 times a week for best results, but even 1-2 a week is better than nothing 😉 Light stretches you can do additionally everyday.

How long will it take me to get my splits?

Oh, we all want to know! How long it will take to get a full split depends greatly on your starting point, training frequency and type of the body. In general, the more often you stretch the faster and easier you will get there. Some Bodies tend to be more tense or loose than others and may take longer or less time. But most importantly, regardless of your starting point and body type – with consistent practice everyone can get the split!

How long will it take me to get my splits
,,Our body is not a machine, it is far better!”
What is the best way to avoid injury while stretching?

Many people get injured while training flexibility because they train without full awareness and may push behind their limits. Remember to warm up properly, practice consciously and be aware of a goal in mind (what is the focus of your training?). Sometimes we want to ‘push’ further but the body is not ready – it is important to always listen to the body and take a step back when necessary. Be aware when the body is ready to push and when it is too much. With practice we also learn to better understand the needs of the body in every specific stretch. On top of that, you also want to make sure you eat well, hydrate sufficiently and get enough sleep which is crucial for proper recovery and healthy training.

Should I stretch an injured muscle?

You should not. Stretching an injured muscle might make it worse. If you have an injury go to a doctor or physiotherapist to get professional advice.

How important is breathing while stretching?

Breathing is super important while stretching (and for everything in life!). The breathing is going to help you to go deeper in the position and to develop more awareness in your practice. When you stretch try to breathe fully in, and when you breathe out push a bit further in your stretch. The breath provides oxygen for the muscles, soothes the nervous system and helps to become more aware of what you are doing (and thus to avoid injuries and achieve better and faster results).

What kind of methods do you use for teaching flexibility?

I am 39 y/o and I started to work with my body when I was 3. During those many years I have gained experience in rhythmic gymnastics (I was a Spanish champion), ballet, tai-chi, yoga, circus, meditation and more. I use all those disciplines to add different layers to the classes I teach. I use elements from Ballet as well as gymnastics and with the mindset of yoga and meditation, which together create a well rounded and efficient session. Working with your mind rather than just with your body is greatly going to transform the quality of your training, your achievements and your well-being through and after the training.

Is there such a thing as overstretch and how do I avoid it?

Sometimes we cross the limit and overstretch (which often leads to injury!). To avoid overstretching we need to be patient and disciplined in our practice. Beware if you are listening to your body or your ego – give your body time to reach new limits and always work with baby steps, instead of forcing a position your body is not yet ready for. Having a qualified and responsible teacher is going to help you to train both safely and wisely. Also, remember to rest enough – give yourself at least 1-2 days of either only light stretching or full rest.

In one class I feel really flexible, then the next week I feel more stiff and less flexible. Am I doing something wrong?

Our body is not a machine, it is far better 😉 It’s perfectly normal to feel stiff one day and bendy the other. This is all part of the curve of learning and your progress. How flexible we are on a specific day depends on how much we slept, how much stress we have, (for women) where you are in your cycle, etc. It is important not to get frustrated, meet yourself wherever you are and keep up your training with passion and consistency. Some people may get results faster than others, so try not to compare and focus on your own journey.

How is stretching going to help me with my pole/aerial/dance training?

Stretching is useful for all sports – in every sport we contract and exhaust different muscle groups. It is then very important that we stretch and release those contracted muscles both BEFORE and AFTER our training. If we don’t stretch enough the body gets out of balance and sooner or later, we will meet injuries. Moreover, for pole dance and aerial arts deeper stretching is going to allow us to go into more advanced positions, have better lines and agility. Training flexibility will also help you develop more awareness in your body, which in turn means better coordination and control in your movement.

stretching going to help me with my pole/aerial/dance training

A bit about Marta:

Marta is a professional multi-disciplinary circus artist, contortionist and flexibility trainer.

She started her professional career in 1994, being a national champion really young in rhythmic gymnastics . After competing she discovered the dance world, and graduated in the National Dance Conservatory as a Ballet teacher. She has been a professional dancer for almost 10 years working on stage, tv, cinema and musicals. Later in her career, she embraced the circus world, where she specialized in duo hand to hand, aerial duo, solo silk and hoop, pole and contortion. She has worked in several well-known companies around the world such as Cavalia, Friedrichstadt-Palast, Cirque du Soleil, Franco Dragone, Les Farfadais, Celebrity, Norwegian and Princess cruises. Marta loves to combine her artistic career with teaching classes, helping her students improve and achieve their goals.

http://www.martabaley.com/en/

If you want to learn more about how YOU can become more flexible, join her weekly online classes at Pole Flow Berlin:

Tuesday 12:15-13:15 Middle Splits

Wednesday 10:45-11:45 Backbends

Wednesday 20:30-21:30 Side Splits

Friday 12:15-13:15 Middle Splits

Click here to the classes Book Online

For more flexibility classes check our full online schedule

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Mateva

Born in 2000, Mateva is a rising Pole Dancer and Pole Dance instructor originating from Italy/Germany. Pole Dance has become her big love since 2017 and she has been sharing her passion through teaching in Vienna, Bavaria and now finally in Berlin, where she is rocking her best pole dance life.

“Teaching gives me so much joy and inspiration. Since I started with no background in dance or sport, I know that pole dancing is for everyone and anyone. I am here to show you how much fun the learning process can be!”

Maria

Maria has recently joined the PFB team as a pole dance instructor and is happy to share her passion with her students.

“I fell in love with movement when I experienced firsthand the mental and physical benefits of working out. In 2017 my passion drove me to start a Fitness and Health Youtube channel, which allowed me to broaden my knowledge through content creation and research. Curiosity kept me learning about new forms of movement until I finally tried Pole Dance in 2018, and I was hooked immediately. Imagine coming from a very repressive, conservative, chauvinistic country and suddenly stepping into a place where nobody is shamed, where sensuality is celebrated, diversity is honored, and also… people are STRONG AF!!! I was in awe!

Since that day, pole dancing has been helping me connect with my body, reject old belief systems and reframe my own ideas of sensuality, sexuality, and freedom.

I got the opportunity to become a teacher in 2021, and I feel blessed to provide that same safe and encouraging space for others to get stronger, shine bright, and enjoy movement.”

Trisha

Trisha is a professional pole dancer and teacher, originating from Bavaria and since 2022 based in Berlin.

‘’I started my dance journey as a kid taking ballet lessons. My ballet journey lasted roughly 10 years and built the base of my movement as of today. After all those years I got sick of the rigid rules of ballet and wished to explore more. After finding Daria Che on Instagram in 2018 I started taking pole lessons in Munich, where I was based. It started as a hobby but quickly with the love for pole turned into a profession.

Since then I have developed my skills in heels, spinning pole and static flow/ static rotation. I have taken classes with highly skilled trainers such as Estefania Jimenez, Marion Crampe, Lorenza Perrone and of course Daria Che as well. Now I am excited to share my knowledge with my students. I love to focus on details, instead of wild tricks and complicated shapes. I love to keep it playful yet clean and accurate, even with the most basic climbs. Let’s explore and play with the details. I can’t wait to dance with you!’’

Sabrina

Sabrina is a professional dancer, dance teacher and stretching and flexibility instructor. During her dance career she found a personal interest in working on flexibility and body posture. She began teaching stretching classes for dancers and non dancers in 2017 in Argentina and currently continues teaching and dancing in the city of Berlin.

‘’I believe that flexibility is something important for those who do sports, dance or for those who don’t do physical activity as well. Flexibility improves the quality of movement, prevents injuries and contractures. I believe that it is important to work on flexibility in an organic and unforced way. For pole dancers, the elasticity of the body can be a great tool to be able to perform figures and tricks in a fluid and tension-free way.’’

Movement education:

  • Professional dancer and classical dance teacher (School of Classical Dance from La Plata Argentina)
  • Stretching course by biomechanics method in Gurquel Alfred Institute (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
  • Stretching Instructor (AMAIP/ Asociación Mutual Argentina de Instructores y Profesores)

Rosa

Rosa Lisa Groll is a dancer and circus artist from Stuttgart based in Berlin. Already at a young age she started to take dance lessons and joined a youth circus to train various disciplines.

After one year abroad in America where she worked as a circus artist on the trapeze and the handstand art she came to Berlin to make an education as a dancer. Ever since she also has been going to the circus school „International Varieté of Arts“ in Kreuzberg. Besides she has been booked and working in the circus feld as a contortionist and trapeze artist in various shows and events.

I came to poleflow a year ago and am happy to be part of the team to work on flexibility and other cool tricks with you!

Amissa

Amissa is a mover, performer and monkey at heart. They lived their early human-years always dancing and playing in youth theater groups.

Amissa’s love for pole dancing started when they just arrived in Berlin. After just the first class they were immediately in love. Now, they realize it has meant a lot more than just finding an amazing hobby. It also made them find their way back to dancing, performing, creating. It opened doors to a new world, such as the world of aerial arts and circus arts in general. Amissa is very driven to live their life exploring movement in its broadest sense. They are always eager to learn more and more!

As a teacher, Amissa is passionate to pass on what has brought them so much joy. Every class, the students should feel good about themselves. Creating a safe(r) and wholesome space is much more important than pushing students to do difficult tricks!

Movement education:

  • Certified Advanced Pole
  • Dance Instructor by Le Chat Noir
  • Basis Program at Motion*s Berlin (ongoing)

Sarah

Sarah has been teaching Pole Dance since 2014. She just recently moved from Würzburg to Berlin and is super excited to share her love for Freestyles, Sensual Flows and Trick Technique with you. She joined Pole Flow in October 2021 and loves the studios focus on the sensual, sex-positive and community-building aspect of Pole.

Sarah is fascinated by freestyles, movement research and flows. She has been teaching Pole Dance since 2014 and loves how the sensual aspect of Pole empowers the students, brings them back into their bodies and also allows them to process emotions.

“Pole Dance changed me. It helped me to feel more at home in my body and to reconnect to my femininity and sensuality, made me become more confident and connected me to a beautiful community. Seeing these changes happen to my students fills my heart with so much joy and gratitude.”

Movement education:

  • XPert Level 1 & 2
  • Xpert Children
  • Elevated Flexibility
  • Spin City Flexibility
  • Freestyle Intensive with
  • Tracee Kafer
  • Fluent Body (on going)