Dynamic Stretch

Janis Saffell
Year Released: 2004

Categories: Athletic Stretch

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Iím reviewing this workout after doing it several times in the couple of years that Iíve had it.

General workout breakdown: This stretching workout of approximately 30 minute combines traditional athletic-type stretching with yoga and Pilates moves; while Janis says this is to promote flexibility, there are several moves that will test your core and lower body strength. The focus is primarily on the lower body and torso; few specific upper body stretches are included. The moves are ďdynamicĒ in that Janis focuses on flowing gracefully through the moves rather than getting into a position and holding it, although there are some (short) static stretches.
The routine begins standing, with moves like forward and side bends, short back stretches, demi plie with side bends, a held squat, and an inner thigh stretch moving into low lunge series (with many variations on this position). Janis then instructs you to sit cross legged as you move your arms and/or spine; you then stretch over one extended. Next comes a mermaid stretch with some variations (e.g. hamstring and quadriceps stretches). Cat and dog tilt on all fours turns into plank (including one-legged plank and then three-legged downward dog) with a child pose in between legs. You end up supine, with more leg stretches, a twist, and some abs moves (including Pilates single leg stretch and open leg rocker prep) and a bit of a final relaxation.

Level: Iíd recommend this to an experienced beginner (i.e. someone whoís comfortable with stretching and perhaps even a little yoga as well as who has some pre-existing strength and flexibility) through an intermediate exerciser. Janis doesnít include a lot of form tips or explain some of the moves in depth (e.g. mermaid stretch), and she offers few modifications, if any. In general I consider myself at least a low intermediate exerciser in yoga, Pilates, weights, and cardio, but Iím still working on improving my flexibility. (It took me almost 3 years of regular yoga and stretching to be able to touch my toes regularly.) I found this challenging when I got it; now I still modify poses where I canít go as far as Janis but I no longer find the strength portions so tough.

Class: Janis alone, with instruction via voiceover.

Music: Upbeat instrumental (primarily flutes) music, sometimes with a slight Asian flavor. Itís better (i.e. more melodic and more pleasant) than the average exercise video stuff.

Set: Janis is on the edge of a pool overlooking a river and two large palm trees. Thereís a light wind, and the sun sometimes goes behind the clouds.

Production: The sound is good, with the music fairly loud, and the picture quality is likewise good. There are two main camera angles, usually more helpful than not: most of the time the camera faces Janis straight on and shows all of her but sometimes a handheld camera moves around and zooms in on Janis. The voiceover matches up with the moves, more or less, although Janis doesnít always cue transitions.

Equipment: sticky mat (or equivalent). Janis is barefoot.

Space Requirements: You should have enough room to lie down with arms and legs extended and be able to sweep your arms and feet to each side.

DVD Notes: You can choose ďPlayĒ or one of the chapters (Beginning, Intro, Standing Poses, or Floor Work) from the main menu.

Conclusion: This is a nice little routine, though not perfect. Some people may find it more energizing than relaxing. I just donít use it, reaching instead for a straight Pilates or yoga routine or only a 10-20 minute athletic stretch post-weights. If you are looking to expand your collection of stretching videos beyond Tamilee, for example, I think this one is definitely worth considering.
The combination of a little core work with stretches reminds me of Madeleine Lewisí AM Stretch, and the yoga-flavored stretches remind me of ML's Daily Stretch.

Instructor Comments:
Janis has a pleasant, softly positive voice. Unfortunately, she didnít take into consideration how the viewerís position and ability to see the TV when doing the voiceover cueing. Itís not bad, and once you get the hang of the routine you know when sheís come up or moved on to the other side or move, but if you need meticulous cueing this isnít for me. She works each side evenly.