I really love this workout but I am having a bit of writerís block in expressing what it is I like about it, so I hope I can do it justice here.
There is a separate chapter, Basics of Classical Stretch, in which Miranda goes over form. If you are new to Classical Stretch I think itís important to go through this chapter at least once so that you get the most out of the workout.
You start with a warm up, step touches with emphasis on pumping your legs up and down, heel digs, knee ups, kicks, all with big arm movements to really open up the joints and prepare you for stretching, Towards the end of the warm up you do some windmill movements with the arms forwards then backwards, which really loosens up the shoulders and feels great. Then you start the workout with a series of upper back stretches, shifting from side to side to bring the stretch further down the back and to the sides of your torso. These stretches then morph in to a series of flowing stretches , using your whole body to loosen up and stretch your entire back. Youíll feel your abs kick in to support you and pull you through the stretches. It reminds me of Tai Chi. Then you move on to a series of arm exercises. All the movement is initiated in your back. Youíll feel it your lats, rear delts, traps and triceps, but not in a stressful or fatiguing way. Itíll make you feel strong and supported in your back body yet at the same time open and loose, not tight. Mirandaís cueing and visualization descriptions will help you throughout the workout to properly execute all the exercises so that you get the most benefit.
Then you work the hips with a series of side leg lifts that work on your balance as well as stability in the quads and the hips. Miranda says youíll work the saddlebags. I suppose you will but to me itís really about stability and balance, not trimming and toning.
The next series is again, very Tai-chi-esque. Fluid pulling, pushing of the upper body with some waist rotation, while your lower body stabilizes you. Then on to a plie series. You start with a mini squat with your feet parallel facing forward and do some isometric squeezing of the inner thighs. Then you go into a full plie and stay there for about four or five minutes. Very challenging! In the plie position Miranda gives a good, description/visualization of the muscles your working and how to contract them. Itís not just a static plie. Youíll contract your muscles to pull your knees out and work the stabilizers. Youíll dip further into the plie, tighten your hamstrings and then release to open up the hips. You do get to come up out of the plie briefly a couple of times but overall itís very long plie.
After that you stretch your quads, calves, and hamstrings. You can end the workout here or move on to the floor work, which is a side lying leg series, some of it similar to the standing leg work, and then some ab work. Nothing terribly intense, but Miranda does give some useful body positioning tips.
Overall, a very enjoyable workout that left me feeling flexible and stable and open. I wish I could do it every day.
Helen K (antbuko)
October 31, 2008
Classical Stretch is a series of workouts created by Canadian instructor Miranda Esmonde-White. The Classical Stretch method incorporates various forms of stretching, including isometric and PNF work, which is supposed to provide both both flexibility and toning benefits. This is the second full body routine, and it is 56 minutes long, with 31 minutes of standing exercises and 25 minutes of floor work.
The workout starts with a 4-minute active warm-up that reminded me very much of the warm-up which Miranda performs on her 30-Minute Express "Spanish Hallways" workout (in fact, the setting for this workout appears to be the same as well). The standing series begins with upper body stretches which feel wonderful on the upper back and shoulders. Next comes the arms segment which Miranda jokingly states is "everyone's favorite"--she is being facetious because the arms work is actually quite tough! Following this, Miranda moves on to legs, performing side leg lifts to work the outer hip area (note: she does NOT use a barre for balance as in her other workouts). A series of flowing, Tai Chi-like stretches follows, but then it's back to the lower body with plie work. Miranda says that she is going to keep you in a plie position for 4 minutes, but in reality, it is less than that, especially given that she allows you to rise up several times. She finishes off the standing work with great stretches for the quads, calves, and inner thighs.
For the floor work, Miranda begins in a side-lying position and performs a series of leg lifts to work the outer hip. This segment is relatively short (about 4 minutes total), but you will definitely feel it! Next comes approximately 4 minutes of abs work; Miranda incorporates mostly traditional crunches and moves fairly quickly here. Blissfully, the remainder of the floor work is entirely devoted to stretching. First, Miranda spends time on the hips, moving them through various stretches in both a seated a a lying position. She follows this with about 2 minutes of very nice seated neck stretches, and finally, she returns to a standing position to conclude the workout with a few full-body stretches.
I enjoyed this workout very much; it felt even more thorough to me than Full Body Volume 1. However, Classical Stretch is a unique exercise technique that is definitely not for everyone; some people might not like Miranda's unique style, particularly given that she is quite chatty throughout the entire workout. Still, I find Classical Stretch to be a great way for me to keep active on my lighter workout days as well as to provide me with much-needed flexibility training in a way that is both fun and enjoyable.
Beth C (aka toaster)
November 9, 2008