Classical Stretch Arms and Abs

Miranda Esmonde-White
Year Released: 2003

Categories: Athletic Stretch

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I just recently found this one at the library, which is great as it is out of print. It really is a shame as it is a great workout. It starts with standing arm work that fries your arms and upper back, shoulders. The feeling of classical stretch for my arms is very unique. I think it's because my posture tends to be rounded and this really stretches me out. It can be painful in spots, in a good way. The ab section is a series of crunches with back pressed into mat (i know everyone used to treat core stabilization this way but people may want to avoid it if they issues with pelvic tilting and do it in neutral spine instead), she does some slow and some faster tempo. I liked the stretches after the ab section. Very good workout. Definitely more toning than stretching, but really liked it and will mix it in with my barre/callanetics workouts once I find a copy!

Instructor Comments:
see review on legs/butt



Classical Stretch is a unique exercise program by from Miranda Esmonde-White, creator of the Classical Stretch technique. Miranda's method (also called The Esmonde Technique) incorporates various forms of stretching, including isometric and PNF work, which, when performed regularly, will provide both both flexibility and toning benefits. In this video, Miranda focuses on unweighted work to strengthen and tone the upper body combined with some challenging abs work.

There is no really warm-up to this workout; rather, Miranda jumps right in with 13.5 minutes of standing arms work. The moves look deceptively easy--eg, arm circles, pushing your arms out, back, and down, etc.--but when performed all in a row with no rest, they are quite challenging and exhausting. After an initial tough arms segment, Miranda continues with some PNF stretches for the upper body, then moves onto more arms work, this time focusing mainly on the hands. She does some more traditional upper body stretches to finish the standing work. Next comes a 9-minute floor abdominals segment. Miranda incorporates mainly variations on traditional crunches, although she is constantly reminding you to keep your back pulled toward the floor and to shorter your abs muscles as you lift. She begins at a slow measured pace but then repeats the exercises using a faster count; this was a little hard to follow, as it was fast-paced and Miranda's cueing is sometimes poor. Finally, Miranda concludes the workout with a brief (2.5 minutes) series of seated stretches focused largely on the abdominals. The entire workout came in right around 25 minutes.

Classical Stretch definitely isn't for everyone, but I enjoy it as an occasional alternative to yoga or other stretching work. This program in particular was a very nice balanced blend of strength work and stretching, and I would recommended it to anyone who is interested in non-traditional toning for their upper body.

Instructor Comments:
Miranda is very talkative and has sort-of a cutesy manner; I can see why some would find her annoying, but I like her. Her cueing isn't great, although I'm generally able to follow along.

Beth C (aka toaster)


This video is closer to 25 minutes than 30. This is not a bad thing!

No warmup in this one. Miranda briefly introduces what weíll be doing, then onto the workout. Standing Arms are first. Perhaps itís that there isnít a warmup, but my shoulders are fried 5 minutes into this. With arms extended out of the shoulder sockets and elbows straight, arms are out to the side, up at a diagonal, palms and wrists rotate up and elbows try to meet in the back. She instructs at least once not to slouch into the movement but to stay tall with the chest opened.

Abwork on the mat is next. As with the Full Body video, itís very standard abwork- crunches, oblique crunches, bicycle variations and heel touches. However, the work is faster than in the Full Body and my abs definitely feel more worked over in this video. She cues to keep your eyes on the ceiling and back pressed into the mat to get the most out of the work.

The video ends with some brief stretches for the chest and back.

General Comments: Part of the reason that I gravitated toward Classical Stretch in the first place was the promise of weightless upper body work (a strange obsession of mine). I find these sequences to be very effective- painfully so, in fact. Also, although I know pushups are probably the most effective upper body work, Iíve learned in the last few weeks that someone with my slightly hunched-over posture should concentrate more on opening my chest first. While I love my Pilates and yoga workouts, these videos have been hitting my body from the new angles it needs to get into.

Instructor Comments:
Please see comments from the Full Body 1 Hour video.

Deb (aka dnk)