The Stiffies Club

by | Nov 7, 2022 | General Stretching

The Stiffies Club


Why Stiffies?

The Stiffies Club was an idea that emerged after recognising that the health and fitness needs of men are different to those of women. We sensitive souls have our own special needs, and in an age where the focus on women’s health seems to vastly overshadow that of men’s, the imbalance needed addressing. For “members” only, the Stiffies Club was conceived to address the needs of men’s physical training primarily, but also to cater to their different psychosocial/environmental requirements too. We are a unique species, and we need a training program that addresses that uniqueness!

Changing priorities for men

At some point in a man’s life, usually from around 30 to 35 years onwards, his physical or body-oriented goals tend

to shift from the desire to become a Greek god-like being to the more grounded and realistic desire merely to be free of aches, pains and injury – simply to remain in one reasonably well-functioning piece.

If my experience is anything to go by, the relationship with one’s body changes too, from a machine-like disregard

for one’s body – a belief that this piece of meat can be worked/hammered into shape – to a recognition that this body is ‘me’, and that since we’re going to be together

for the whole journey, we had better start taking care of each other. The ego tends to recede in its dominance of our training program selections, and our own fallibility seems to feature more in the selection of health promoting behaviours.

From this realisation comes the next. The physical training that we have been doing to date has, or is likely to, result in the deterioration and breakdown of our bodies. Running, weight training, racket sports and cycling are the most popular, and each of them has their drawbacks. Firstly, there’s the joint wear and tear, and then there’s the asymmetrical development of muscles and the effect that this has on your skeletal structures. Muscles tear, joints

ache and the appeal of more physical activity begins to wane altogether. So, many men stop. In fact 40% of adult males do no form of physical activity at all (ABS 2007).

Some men try gentler pursuits like yoga. Terrific as it is, it is often not well suited to the western male’s physique (or psyche). It’s simply too hard and requires good flexibility right from the outset. That’s why in the Stiffies program we make stretching simpler with the aid of specially designed equipment, but more on that later. I alluded to our

psychological needs earlier, and yes, we have them too! We don’t like feeling hopeless, or embarrassed, and this is the primary experience for us in a Yoga class. We look ‘unco’ (unco-ordinated) and pathetic, and we don’t like it. So we don’t go back to class. We tell ourselves it was boring, or our partner that it’s “just not for me” with only a vague understanding of why. (Perhaps we do know why, but we don’t like to admit it.)

So the Stiffies Club comes to the rescue, a place of solace for the sensitive male, a ‘Fernwood’ (a women-only chain of gyms) for men, where it’s okay to be average, and without the shame of trying to sit on the floor next to some impossibly lithe young female who chuckles at you thinking “boy, he is stiff in all the wrong places.” Perhaps we should re-name our classes with the slightly sexier title ‘Firmwood?’


So what do we do in a Stiffies class? Firstly, we use equipment to stretch. This makes the whole process so much easier. With the body supported, stretching can be done by anyone. Equipment makes stretching more effective too. Second, we don’t do “poses” or learn complicated repertoire. With the aid of equipment, we isolate each muscle group and make it the focus. There no tying yourself in knots and no guessing “am I doing it right?”

“My hips have loosened up, and now I can step up and tie my shoes! I recommend the Stiffies to all my friends”

-Graham Shorley

After a Few Months

Stretching feels good, and over time (two to three months) some of those familiar aches and pains begin to disappear. Psychologically too, muscle relaxation reduces stress and there is increasing evidence that stretching reduces blood pressure and heart disease and improves qualities like immune system function.

(Dr Shirley Telles has an interesting website with many scientific studies to support this view). We say that whilst aerobic exercise and strength training may keep you alive, the mobility, suppleness and the “feel good “factor that stretching imparts makes it worth being alive!

Trained instructors to help find the right stretch for you

The Stiffies program treats a man as he is – a unique individual with individual needs! So although there are certain staples in the program, participants are encouraged to explore and discover exercises that are right for them: exercises that are safe, effective and through trial and error, bring them results. Instructors are trained for example

with a repertoire of four or five different stretches for each muscle group like the hamstrings, so that they can find one that’s suitable for you.

Part of their training also involves learning about individual joint and bone variation, so that an exercise that you can’t do for physical reasons will not be prescribed for you week after week, with nothing but pain and frustration. Some of the exercise staples in the program include taking the spine through all of its ranges of movement, both actively and passively with the assistance of props, and stretches for all of the larger muscles of the body. These include feet and calves, hamstrings, quads and hip flexors, the muscles of

the trunk and the arms and shoulders. That ‘six pack’ will soon reappear on your abdomen, instead of sitting in the fridge!

So the hard facts are there, and the Stiffies program will address them. With Stiffies classes now operating on four continents, why not become a proud member today?

Classes are inexpensive, and most studios provide a flexible range of ‘drop in’ classes to members.

For more information, please visit www.stretchfit. studio or contact the course creator Anthony Lett at