Dance Conditioning: Stretch & FlexEric Zimmer
Year Released: 1998
Categories: Athletic Stretch
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This unusual video uses fast, active, dancey moves to stretch the body rather than the standard static poses. It starts with some lying stretches for the hamstrings and hips, moves into a short set of table work for the glutes, and then has you warm up the spine by bending and straightening from a kneeling position.
It then moves into a 15 minute standing routine. You do a short dance combo at slow tempo several times, then speed it up for a few times, then do it one or two more times slowly. I really like this alternation of fast and slow work - it gives me time to master each combo, and it really helps me feel the stretching in the muscles. This standing routine is almost aerobic - in fact it would make a good warmup for an aerobic workout. The music here is standard fast club-type instrumentals, with some vocals. There are some really irritating moments of bad camera work, when the camera operator decides to admire the attractive faces and bodies of the cast rather than actually show what moves they're doing. I have seen worse, though.
The drawback to this style of stretching is the possibility of injury. If you were uncomfortable with the moves or struggling to keep up, you could easily fling an arm or leg too hard and wind up with a nasty muscle tear. For that reason, I would hesitate to recommend this tape to a beginning exerciser, or to anyone who isn't comfortable following somewhat dancey choreography. But if you've been working out a while and feel like you know your body's limits, the routine is fun and feels great. I always feel loosened up and relaxed after this video - much more so than I do after more traditional static stretching.
The video winds up with some more floorwork using an optional 8-foot rope for leg stretches. The music here is quiet and new-agey, and the moves combine elements of dance, Pilates, and yoga.
I give this tape a grade of B+ for the intermediate/advanced exerciser, but wouldn't recommend it for the beginner. I really enjoy using it on days when I don't feel like a full-scale aerobic or strength workout, but want to move my body and loosen up. The tape is 38 minutes long - a little too long for me to combine with other tapes, so I've been using it on its own.
Eric Zimmer, an attractive blond dancer/bodybuilder, leads two equally attractive female dancers with perfect makeup, manicures, and Rachel-from-"Friends" haircuts. His mild-mannered delivery is somewhat amusing at times and a little annoying at others, like when he repeatedly refers to his class as "ladies." His cueing is fine, although there is one stretch of bad camera work where you can't tell what the moves are because the camera is focusing on the faces of the cast.
I liked it, but would agree with Amy's review that it isn't for the beginner or anyone who is very unflexible. The moves go a little too fast and the risk of injury to someone who wasn't fairly flexible (or already warmed up totally from another video) would be pretty high.
I won't go into detail on the exercises, since they've already been covered but will just add my impressions. This video was a nice change of pace and it did a good job of stretching my legs out after a couple of days of WAY too much inner thigh work. I liked the music a lot and felt like I would be able to pick up the choreography in the middle "dance" section completely in another time or two. And this is from someone who considers herself fairly choreography-impaired. It helps alot that Eric starts out each combination slowly, then speeds it up after you've seen it a few times. This section actually got me almost to the point of breaking a sweat, which really suprised me since I had just grabbed the tape as a "light" workout following two weeks that bordered on overtraining. But it was a good feeling, since I was in a "blah" sort of mood and it got me pumped up just enough to get over that, yet left me nice and relaxed as a good stretch tape should do.
The final section has deeper stretches which use a piece of rope (or a towel or a yoga strap) in order to get deeper into the stretch. They felt really good after the dance section and since my muscles were warm by then, I was able to stretch deeper. I've been really trying to work on my flexibility lately and think that this video will be a nice change of pace from my yoga videos and more traditional stretch ones.
Overall, I liked Eric, but his voice got just slightly on my nerves at times. Nothing too major (Keith Byard from MTV advanced workout he is not) and it won't keep me from using the tape. He cues well, but as Amy mentions in her review, the camera guy doesn't always cooperate and Eric will be cuing away and all you get is a shot of somebody's face. But there is thankfully only one major instance of this and a couple of more minor bad camera angles.