Easy Stretch by Buns of SteelGreg Smithey
Year Released: 1995
Categories: Athletic Stretch
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I picked up this video awhile back in the $3 bargain bin, and was pleasantly surprised to find this workout very good---if you know what to use it for. This is not a comprehensive stretch program. This is not an advanced stretching program (the box claims it is part of the "startin' simple series, and really, you sort of have to expect "simple" when you've got chopped off consonants AND cutesy alliteration in the same phrase). Furthermore, unless you have the fitness level of a sea slug, this will probably barely qualify as a workout at all. But.it's fun. And Greg Smithey has go to be the goofiest instructor ever to hit the video fitness market.
All right, quick breakdown. Once you get past the longish buns of steel infomercial at the beginning, this 30-minute workout has 3 approximately equal sections. The first is a standing section consisting of mostly variations on side oblique stretches and very, very gentle spinal twists. Then you go to the floor for the next part, some seated and lying down thigh stretches. You finish with a rather-long and not very helpful meditation.
The first section is surprisingly relaxing, and although I doubt it improved my flexibility, it did leave me warm and tingly. The floor section is decent. He holds the stretches for quite a long time in some cases. The upper body is barely touched in this tape, so it's nice to know that at least one body part (the thighs) get an adequate working. As for the meditation.well, he goes on at some length about telling your conscious mind to tell your subconscious mind to tell you body certain things. It's needlessly convoluted, and not very helpful. Then, he tells you to get down on the floor while he walks you through it. That last part was just the prologue, it seems. He begins the walk-through (of you telling your subconscious mind thing) with a conversational little play-acting that begins "Hey, subconscious mind." I turned it off at that point.
Personality-wise, Greg is like an odd cross between Denise Austin ("you are doing very well! I am so happy you are stretching and elongating with me!") and Moira Stott or Karen Voight---somber and schoolmarm lectury. Somehow, he manages to pull off both sides of this coin at once, and it is truly amusing. For example, he is the only instructor I have seen who competently explains why ballistic (bouncy) stretching is wrong, then exhorts you not to do it because it makes him "very sad." He finishes the little speech with a finger-wagging chastisement of "No. Don't do it." Too funny :-)
In summary: 1) His amusing personality will keep you watching. 2) This workout will not produce enough endorphins to keep you awake if you do it in the evening and 3) It may not improve flexibility except in the inner thigh, but it IS a soothing, relaxing little routine. Sometimes, that's all you need.
I just finished doing this video and I really do feel great, but the smile on my face has less to do with how great I feel than it does with how unintentionally amusing Greg Smithey is in this video. Let me describe the workout first. Greg starts with dynamic, fluid stretches for the upper body and torso, "reaching and pulling" types of movements. There is some very gentle toning included. I am quite sore in my entire upper body today and it felt very nice. Then you go to the floor for some traditional stretching, mostly quadriceps and buttocks. This is very nonthreatening stretching, folks, definitely appropriate for the less flexible exercisers among us. The "thunderstorm in a jungle" background music is very nice and relaxing as well. Greg's voice and demeanor are very gentle through the video. After the floor stretching, though, things degenerate. Greg goes into a very long, very repetitive spiel about how your voice tells your conscious mind something, and your conscious mind tells your subconscious mind, and your subconscious mind tells all the cells and tissues of your body. Once is OK, 100 times gets a little irritating, especially since he has this wonderful birdsong track going on in the background. It would be very relaxing to just lie there and listen to the birds and focus on relaxing, but who can relax with someone coaching you about this voice-mind-subconscius-body thing over and over? I just wanted to say "GREG, SHUT UP!!
There were a few funny moments, like when he says "breathing is very relaxing" --I just started laughing out loud thinking "yeah, if you can't breathe it's kinda hard to relax!!" And there was another time when he says
"You don't stretch ballistically"
"You don't bounce"
He sounded as though he were talking to a small puppy or a disobedient two year old! Again, I got a good laugh out of that! And I wanted to ask him "If I get hit by a Mack truck and my voice tells my conscious mind I am fine and my conscious mind tells my subconscious mind that I am fine and my subconscious mind tells my cells and tissues that I am fine are my cells and tissues going to believe it???"
In closing, I think a lot of VFers would throw this tape on the pile of "tapes to take to VF get-togethers to get a good laugh out of". I have to admit, however, that I kind of liked it! I think Greg's sincerity and gentle personality save him from himself in this video. It sure does feel good on a very sore day, even though it wouldn't be much of a challenge otherwise. It is, after all, designed to be an "Easy Stretch" and it does so quite well. And the giggles I got out of it only endeared it to me.
Greg has a wonderful, gentle personality. His tone is very simplistic and almost condescending, as though he is talking to a bunch of preschoolers. In spite of this, his sincerity is very appealing and his gentle approach is soothing. He is a combination of sixties hippie and eighties New Ager in his approach.
My mother gave me this video- it was on sale - she should have left it on the shelf.
It only has a few basic whole body stretches and a hamstring stretch. Whole muscle groups are ignored ...ie. the deltoids, calves, quads. I would have prefer he jetisoned the silly affirmation/visualization section in favour of more stretches.
If you see it on the shelf, don't buy it no matter how cheap it is.
Greg is very retro 60s and I really found his blathering on about the unconsciousness (in the affirmation section) intentionally amusing and I felt sorry for the cast who had to listen to it.
This video is for beginners. I'm not one, but didn't feel upset for myself with buying this one. The stretching is moving-stretching, such as Denise Austin's Total Energy or Richard Simmons Stretching To The Classics. The floor stretches for the hamstrings and hips are static. I wish he would have included a quadraceps stretch, or a calf stretch, but he missed both of these. The upper body gets stretched out pretty good, and would be a good transition after being behind a computer all day. I felt, when doing the upper body stretches, almost "mime-like" if there is such a term. He has you grabbing onto an imaginary rope and pulling. It lasted a little longer than I would have liked. I didn't like the "deep thoughts" at the end. I don't mind laying down and relaxing after yoga, but maybe a beginner who needs to hear the encouragement would. I'll give it a grade C+.
My husband walked into the room, when I had this video on and said "He is so seventies." which sums it up. He looks the same as in the original Buns of Steel video, plus some grey. He still has that friendly personality and is very encouraging for beginners. He works the camera with the smiles and charm.