|Craig Ramsay began stretching as an eight-year-old with ADHD to improve his focus. (Supplied) |
Performing a variety of stretches while doing homework at the same time was mandatory for Craig Ramsay when he was a kid.
His parents insisted on it.
That’s because after Ramsay was diagnosed with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) at a young age, his mom discovered research suggesting physical activity — stretching, in particular — helped alleviate the symptoms.
“Doing active and passive stretches for a prolonged period of time allowed me to stay focused on my homework while having that distraction internally with my body,” the Canadian-born fitness guru tells Sun Media in a phone interview from Los Angeles.
Ramsay, a 35-year-old native of Harrow, Ont., was eight years old when he began his stretching-homework routine.
His early appreciation for stretching led him to a stint as a contortionist years later.
Ramsay’s stretching prowess also served him well during a successful Broadway career that included roles in Cats and Fiddler on the Roof.
He went on to become a professional dancer, before evolving into a celebrity trainer and fitness model.
Stretching, of course, has been the common thread running through his life.
Ramsay has put that lifetime of stretching know-how into an all-encompassing book, Anatomy of Stretching: A Guide to Increasing Your Flexibility, which was released in June.
“All of these stretches that were only good for a Saturday night party trick, now I’m able to utilize in the fitness industry,” he chuckles.
In the book’s foreword, famed Broadway director and choreographer Jerry Mitchell notes: “No one has to tell a dog to stretch. It is in their DNA to do it — and to do it before anything else.”
Indeed, humans should follow their canine companions’ lead.
“If we achieve our flexibility, it improves our daily life,” Ramsay adds. “It increases the pace and the stride of our walk. That improves our energy and how we share ourselves with people and how we’re perceived. Improving your posture says a lot about the energy that you’re throwing and taking from a room.”
The former co-star of Bravo TV’s Thintervention and one-time SUNshine Boy urges everybody to stretch daily.
Office workers, for example, have much to gain from stretching. In his latest book, Ramsay — also the author of Anatomy of Muscle Building — outlines a series of non-invasive stretches that can be done discreetly in the workplace.
“If they are actively stretching while they’re working, they’re going to have more focus, agility and mobility,” he says.
Ramsay, a muscular 190 pounds at five-foot-10, still stretches regularly to maintain his focus.
“It helps my mind-body-spirit connection, just like that eight-year-old child with ADHD,” he explains. “Stretching gives me a chance to slow down my life and to process things mentally and emotionally and connect my mind, body and spirit.”
Stretching, however, is not something that Ramsay likes to focus on while training his clients.
“The reason I wrote the book was because I’m not a babysitter,” he says. “Anything that can be done on someone’s own — like properly eating, sleeping, taking their supplements and even some forms of cardio — I will give them as homework to work on.”
You heard him — do your homework!
Benefits of stretching:
• Create elongated muscles
• Improve muscle coordination
• Increase flexibility
• Build up cardio endurance
• Alleviate lower-back pain
• Burn calories
• Combat the effects of aging
• Boost energy
• Relieve stress
-- Craig Ramsay
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