STRETCHIT is an innovative app revolutionizing the fitness industry with its focus on stretching, flexibility and mobility. We get an inside look from the passionate co-founders, Natasha Nikolaeva and Marina Skladchikova, two sisters who transformed their careers and lives to develop this unique app. Delving into their personal paths, from Marina’s acrobatic adventures to Natasha’s switch from the legal world, they unveil the origins of STRETCHIT and its impact on reshaping perspectives towards health and fitness.
Tell us a bit about yourself and how did you end up as a co-founder of STRETCHIT?
After years of successful practice as a corporate and M&A attorney at DLA Piper, I moved to New York to get my master’s degree at Fordham School of Law. In my spare time, I started going to stretching classes at a dance studio nearby.
At first, I wasn’t flexible at all – I couldn’t even touch my toes when bending forward. But when I began practicing regularly, I quickly saw how much better my health and movement got. My body didn’t hurt anymore, my flexibility improved, and I started moving and even sleeping better.
When I was in my 30s (and now I’m in my 40s), I felt healthier than ever. I really wanted to share this feeling with others. After finishing my master’s and passing the New York State Bar Exam, I quit my job as a lawyer. Together with my sister Marina, I started STRETCHIT. Our goal was to help people all over the world feel the good things that come from stretching and mobility training.
I transitioned from a fast-moving consumer goods professional to an acrobat and eventually to an app entrepreneur. Also, I’m a first-generation immigrant and a single parent, traits that have honed my courage, ingenuity, and efficiency. Life is something I absolutely cherish.
Originally, my passion for stretching was ignited by stretch and flexibility exercises. I used to be inflexible, spending over 9 hours seated in my office job. Then, in my late twenties, I embarked on a journey to enhance my flexibility. With just two years of dedicated practice, I found myself auditioning for acrobatic roles, even being considered alongside performers from Cirque Du Soleil! I had this preconceived notion that becoming a professional acrobat as an adult was impossible. Yet, the human body’s potential is astonishing. This realization filled me with inspiration! That’s when the concept of sharing my stretching techniques with everyone via an app came to life.
In your own words, what’s your role in the app business right now?
Currently, I’m running one of the most successful fitness apps on the App Store and Google Play. My daily routine involves leadership and strategy, finance management, as well as close collaboration with product development, marketing, and content creation teams. My focus is to ensure that STRETCHIT continues to expand its user base while consistently offering premium-quality stretching sessions to our community.
I primarily handle the strategic and business growth aspects. However, I also take pleasure in guiding our support team. Their close interaction with our customers is something I truly value. This connection offers me deeper insights into what our users need and constantly provides a wealth of fresh ideas directly from our user community.
What do you consider to be the core mission of your product?
Our focus is on the health and fitness sector. The most significant opportunity we see lies in motivating individuals to engage in training. Essentially, we are in the business of habit formation. Cultivating and sustaining a regular training habit is the key to success in our field.
Could you provide an insight into the stretching fitness industry and how much people need a technology-driven solution like STRETCHIT?
Just by observing our user numbers, it’s clear that there’s a demand for our services. The fitness app space, especially those apps focusing on general fitness and yoga, is quite crowded. However, there’s a noticeable gap for those seeking structured flexibility and mobility training.
Even in a place like New York, where we have the opportunity to work with top-notch flexibility and mobility instructors, locating these experts was challenging. This is where technology plays a crucial role. It empowers us to offer people, no matter where they are, the chance to learn from these exceptional instructors and understand core flexibility principles.
Are there particular safety precautions to consider when engaging in STRETCHIT programs, and how do you address these concerns?
Stretching can indeed be beneficial for individuals experiencing discomfort or pain, but as with any physical activity, it’s crucial for them to receive clearance from their healthcare provider.
This advice applies equally to those in good health. Some people avoid stretching or working on their flexibility due to fear of pain. A certain level of discomfort is a normal aspect of progress, much like in any other physical activity aimed at improvement. It’s important to note, though, that sharp or severe pain during stretching is not acceptable.
For novices, we recommend beginning with STRETCHIT’s milder stretching forms and gradually progressing to more intensive sessions as they become more attuned to their bodies. We provide thorough descriptions of each movement and place significant emphasis on proper alignment, breathing techniques, and engaging the correct muscles. Our intention was to create an app experience that feels like receiving top-notch guidance, even though the user isn’t physically present in a class.
Our platform is tailored for individuals aged 18 and above. Nevertheless, it’s heartening to see some parents participating in our classes with their children. In such cases, we always advise them to closely monitor their kids to ensure the movements are performed safely.
Could you provide details on the expenses associated with your app’s services, and guide us on how to begin using STRETCHIT?
We initiate the experience with a free 7-day trial, allowing you to explore freely with no obligations. Should you require additional time post-trial, there are select classes available on the app at no cost. Once you decide to fully engage, you have the option of a monthly subscription priced at $19.99. Alternatively, for those looking for a longer-term commitment, we offer a yearly subscription at $159.99, which presents a cost-effective choice.
Can you share stories or feedback from users who’ve made great progress using STRETCHIT?
“This app is awesome. The stretches are more like a yoga flow, with each stretch clearly in a certain order for maximum benefit. The classes can be as short as a few minutes (which I’ll probably use locked in my office at work) and I just scheduled a reminder for a 25 minute class tonight.
You can grow in intensity in two ways — take a more difficult class (the app asks how it went and makes suggestions based on your answers), or you can pause the class to hold each stretch longer. I’ve done both. I love that you can schedule a reminder, too. I imagine that as I use it daily, more features will be known to me.
I’ve never reviewed an app before, but I’m so pleased with this, I had to. Here’s my story — I’m a very fit person, and I literally injured my back sitting down for a marathon zoom meeting for work (4+ hours). After steroids, muscle relaxers, and 2 weeks rest from the gym, orthopedist recommended PT. I went once. Waste of my time. $50 to stretch me? No thanks. So I downloaded this app instead of going back, and although I’m only 2 days and 5 sessions in, it’s helped more than the PT after the first 3 minute intro class.
In the mornings I do a back rehab and a full body, takes me less than 20 minutes for two classes. At night I do a full body express and one that is supposed to make you sleep better. I don’t know if I slept better, but I feel relief after each one. I just finished the hip flexor one, and I’m a new person. I’m very confident that continuing this will be the rehab that I need for my back to get me back to powerlifting and doing HIIT without issue.” – Promoliz