Video Fitness

EASY DOES IT STRETCH

Joyce Vedral

I was not quite sure what to make of this stretch tape by Joyce Vedral. Most of its flaws---poor cueing, sloppy counting and an amateur look and feel---will be familiar to users of Joyce’s other programs. But those are strength training programs, and many people are willing to cut Joyce some slack since she is one of the few people actually producing those kinds of tapes. The stretch market, however, is a little more crowded, and that makes Joyce’s shortcomings a little harder to live with.

In spite of two very yoga stretches at the end (which Joyce performs briefly, poorly and with the incorrect names) this is very much an athletic-style stretch. So yoga haters will be right at home here. Joyce is also reasonably thorough, including stretches for all the major muscle groups, as well as paying much-welcome special attention to the rotator muscles along the shoulders, hip flexors, ankles and hands. About half the 35-odd minutes are done standing up and the remainder is done on the mat. This would be a very easy workout to split up.

It was really nice to see a flexibility workout from an instructor who is less flexible. Most yoga and stretch instructors have much better flexibility than I do, and I almost always have to modify. Not with Joyce. I could do every single thing exactly as she did. She held the stretches for a reasonable but not excessive length of time, and the only prop she used was a towel.

The problems were the usual Joyce ones. She doesn’t cue very well, and I had to look up several times during the floor work. She has funny names for a few things (calling the easily recognizable downward dog pose the “bow” pose for example) and I do not fully trust her when it comes to counting, so I had to run my own count to make sure each side got the same amount of work. And it felt a little amateur and unrehearsed to me---at one point, she suggests a modification to background exerciser Marthe only to have Marthe tersely reply that she liked it better the first way.

This was also an expensive workout to be sporting such flaws (the dvd, which contains the Interval Aerobics workout as well, is nearly $50). And you can only buy it from Joyce’s web site, which has a somewhat spotty customer service record.

Off-hand, I can think of at least 3 non-yoga athletic-style stretch tapes that are just as thorough as this one, but have better instruction and better production values, and are far, far less costly. So am I sorry I have this one? No, not exactly. And now that I do have it, will I use it? Yes, probably. But would I buy it again if I lost it? Doubtful. And certainly not unless it was vastly discounted, or I found it on the exchange. It is, as with most Joyce workouts, a better routine in theory than in execution. And for the same price, you could buy Karen Voight’s Pure and Simple Stretch and Tamilee Webb’s Stretch for Flexibility and still have money left over.

Joanna

01/09/04



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