Working on your flexibility is a pretty solid fitness goal for the new year. But one viral TikTok challenge is taking that goal to new heights — literally.
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Dubbed "the flexibility challenge," the trend involves standing on one leg while extending the other and, using only your foot on the extended leg, removing an oversized hoodie — all while maintaining balance on your standing leg. Sounds complicated, right? Well, none other than Vanessa Hudgens has already nailed it.
In a new video, Hudgens is shown successfully trading her oversized pink pullover for a Terez Pretty in Pinto Hi-Shine Sports Bra (Buy It, $65, terez.com) that she was sporting underneath. She started by doing a little dance (a staple in any good TikTok challenge), then she put her hoodie up, gracefully lifted her leg in an extended toe touch, and flipped the sweatshirt off her body using just her foot (and, of course, her balance).
"Looked too fun and had to try. Lol," Hudgens captioned the video, tagging singer-songwriter DaniLeigh, who also successfully completed the challenge in a recent post. (Related: Vanessa Hudgens Shared the Perfect Exercise for When You Need to "Let Off Some Steam")
Plenty of people besides Hudgens have attempted the challenge — to varying levels of success. In a TikTok posted by user @omgitsashleigh (who appears to be the creator of the challenge), several people can be seen taking some gnarly stumbles and tumbles when trying to perform the trick. Even Lucy Hale — who maintains a pretty consistent fitness routine with flexibility-focused workouts such as Pilates — commented on Hudgens' post: "If I attempted this I would legitimately break my leg." (Related: The "Cupid Shuffle" Plank Challenge Is the Only Core Workout You'll Want to Do from Now On)
Jokes aside, though, while this challenge looks super fun, safety should be top of mind if you're going to DIY. That means, for one thing, making sure you're warmed up before executing the challenge, says yoga instructor Heidi Kristoffer.
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"Before attempting this, you have to make sure your body is open, ready, and willing to take your toes to the top of your head while standing up straight," and without externally rotating your hip (which can compromise your balance), she explains. "If you can't do that, you will hurt yourself attempting this," she cautions. (Also, check out these tests that can measure your flexibility from head to toe.)
If that level of flexibility is in your wheelhouse, Kristoffer recommends preparing for the challenge by first warming up your hamstrings and lower back (try these stretches for your hamstrings and these yoga poses for your back) and activating your core for better balance. "It also might be a good idea to practice this with your extra-extra-large hoodie while sitting on the edge of a chair first, and then perhaps doing it leaning against a wall before attempting it free-standing, to make sure you won't be pulling on your neck," she adds.
TikTok user @omgitsashleigh, the apparent creator of the trend, also shared some safety tips for the flexibility challenge. Echoing Kristoffer's suggestion, she recommends wearing a very large hoodie — large enough that the sleeves come down over your hands, which will ensure the entire sweatshirt comes off easily without getting stuck on your arms, she explained.
Next, continued @omgitsashleigh, remember to keep the hood of your sweatshirt up over your head, and make sure the hood is big enough that it can easily come over the top of your chin. If the neckline is too narrow and the hood gets caught under your chin, you could accidentally choke yourself as you attempt to pull off the hoodie, explained @omgitsashleigh.
Lastly, once you have your extended leg in the air and you're about to do the trick, make sure you put your arms down as you pull off the hoodie with your foot, which will allow the sweatshirt to slide right off (rather than get caught on your arms), said @omgitsashleigh. "If you do not put your arms down, it is going to toss you to the ground," she warned.
Not quite flexible enough for the challenge yet? Don't fret — it's much safer to work your way up to this type of movement than force it on the first try, says Kristoffer. She recommends yoga as "the best place to start" when it comes to building flexibility. "Yoga teaches your mind and body to become more flexible — and strong at the same time — so you don't injure yourself," she explains. "Yoga also teaches you to be in touch with your body, which allows you to stay safe within your own range of motion." (Here are the essential yoga poses for beginners to help you get started.)
There are countless ways to begin a yoga practice, but one great place to start is Kristoffer's CrossFlow Yoga app. For $14.99 per month (after a 14-day free trial), Kristoffer's platform offers several different guided yoga-based workouts — from HIIT yoga to gentle yoga — suitable for every fitness level, mood, and energy level. (Here are more home workout apps that can help you learn yoga.)
Regardless of how you choose to work on your flexibility, don't rush your execution of this TikTok challenge. "You should definitely wait until you can easily take your leg straight out in front of you and up to your head before attempting this," says Kristoffer.
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