We had the good fortune of connecting with Alexandra Bender and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Alexandra, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
When California went on Lockdown due to COVID and the studio I was working at went virtual I created a routine of daily exercises and stretches that always had the ability to put me in a better mood and make my body feel so much better. These exercises consisted of those I learned in dance classes over the years or was given by Physical Therapists based on previous injuries I had been seen for. As a dancer, teacher, and choreographer my body is always sore or in some sort of pain so to find that in lockdown I was in the best shape I had been in since High School and feeling better than ever people were asking what I was doing.
After my last community class I taught for the studio I was working at some of my regulars asked if I would be open to teaching a beginner level class that would keep them active and increase their flexibility. To hear these people all over the world were craving a class they could take in the comfort of their homes without needing any equipment or much space sounded exactly like the routine I was already doing on my own each day. I immediately told them how much I loved the idea and taught my first class via ZOOM on April 5th of 2020 calling it just what it is, Stretch & Strengthening.
What makes the classes so much more effective and different from taking any other globally available fitness class is that I choreographed an hour-long full-body workout and stretches to a playlist where you move with the music that people at any age or level can participate in. Each month is a new playlist and set of exercises and in the first four classes I breakdown the movements so people learn the proper alignment/muscles that should be working throughout the class. Once we have learned the routine we can use the rest of the month to focus on the cardio aspect of moving from one exercise to the next and getting a great full-body workout and stretch done in an hour. The best part is that people can ask live questions, get real-time answers, and anyone with access to the internet can take it with no financial stress, donations are welcome, not required basis.
Since the start of Stretch of Strengthening the class has grown in size and I now teach it twice a week on Sundays and Wednesdays at 9am PST/12pmEST to my group of OG’s and anyone else looking for a convenient at home workout.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am a Dancer, Teacher, Choreographer, and Stylist. What sets me apart from others results from two things; my background and love for the process from conception to completion. I grew up doing Cheer, Karate, Soccer, Commercial Dancing, Ballroom, Concert Dancing, Traditional Chinese Dance, Bollywood, and Baile Folklorico. The diversity of dance styles that I was trained in has given me a deep appreciation of other cultures and a desire to continue learning from them. The work I create resembles this diversity as it often jumps from one style into another.
What I am most excited about is starting a career in the fashion industry with my favorite clothing brand Aritzia. I have always had a deep-rooted passion for fashion and as a dancer was always far too excited when it came to costuming.
I am where I am today because I took chances and approached all of my work with the passion I started it with. I rather say I gave it the best shot I could than regret never trying. Of course, everyone gets burnt out but my success is due to my desire to continue learning/refining my craft, adaptability, and love for trying new things.
The lessons I have learned, and the best advice I can give are putting yourself out there and knowing that your path to success may not be a straight shot. Things will not be handed to you, so you must go after what you want and be open to trying new things. I fully believe that everything happens for a reason and that nothing you do is ever a waste of time. Everything you do will always influence your thought process and choices, therefore making it your strength and what makes you unique.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Expect to view lots of Art, get a sweat in, eat really well, and leave with a whole new wardrobe. So let’s get started;
Day 1: Take Stretch & Strengthening and then have a big brunch, Urth Cafe has my favorite Chicken Curry sandwich, don’t forget a matcha latte and a cappuccino – I like to be caffeinated, The Broad and then Mendocino Farms for their not so fried chicken sandwich with their bomb lemonade. Foor dinner we are headed to The Exchange – the Baba ghanoush, hummus, apple & Pear Salad, and chile sweet potato is INCREDIBLE!
Day 2: The Ace – their pancakes and ambiance is fantastic, we can walk over to the Last Bookstore for some new books and music, Grand Central Market for lunch to pick up a Belcampo Meat Co. burger and a scoop of either the McConnell’s peanut butter or strawberry ice cream, Blue Bottle Coffee for an afternoon cup of fuel, take Angels Flight railway, and lastly then Perch for dinner with a view of all DTLA.
Day 3: Wake & Late breakfast burrito – the O. G. [bacon], then let’s go shopping! Jo Malone, See’s Candies – try the Butterscotch squares, and Aritzia are a must at the South Coast Plaza p.s. (I work at Aritzia, come visit me)!, Animal fries and a Protein-style Cheeseburger at In-N-Out for lunch, to end a successful shopping day we can enjoy a sunset walk on the beach and dinner at Rubies on the Pier.
Day 4: Stretch & Strengthening again! After let’s head to Whole Foods Market for a green smoothie, ginger shot, and pain au chocolate, we can visit the Getty or Griffith Observatory and pick up The Halal Guys for lunch – chicken platter and maybe fit in an episode of The Expanse. For dinner we have Rosa Mexicana – I know it says nachos appetizer but trust me get it as your entree, you won’t be sorry. Finally Staples Center for a Lakers game or concert – we can have their nachos too!
Day 5: Let’s stay at The Intercontinental, order room service for breakfast, visit Skyspace LA on top of US Bank building or book the Ultimate Helicopter Tour with Orbic Air to view the whole city from above, BADMAASH for some incredible Indian – get the samosas and chai, then for dinner we can head right upstairs to La Boucherie – because who doesn’t love their food on the 71st floor. The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I owe a big Shoutout to my family and my boyfriend’s family who encouraged me to teach these classes and made space for me in their homes to do so. I am also so grateful for those who have grown with me since my first class and for those who give it a try and keep coming back. I love you all and I love teaching my classes!
Lozen Haozous, Rafael Hernandez, Linda Bender, Christopher Cronson