Year Released: 2008
Categories: Lower Body Strength
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Miranda Esmonde-White is creator "Classical Stretch - The Esmonde Technique," a workout series based on stretching and strengthening the muscles. An "eccentric" contraction is what occurs when muscles lengthen, and Miranda came up with the trademarked "Essentrics" as another name for her technique (more recent Essentrics DVDs are taught exclusively by Miranda's daughter, Sahra Esmonde-White).
This set offers two DVDs, one focused on the Upper Body/Abs and the other on the Lower Body/Abs. Both discs offer two routines of about 30 minutes each. Miranda is alone, teaching live in attractive outdoor settings as noted below. For one of the upper routines, she uses a bench (or chair); otherwise, the only equipment needed is a mat for the floorwork.
DISC 1, UPPER BODY - POOLSIDE ABS + POSTURE (32 minutes)
The 3-minute warm-up includes moves such as swings and bar throws. This is followed by a lengthy (almost 4 mins.) arms work series. Next comes an active standing flow segment: Miranda pulls on both straight and bent arms, performs flexion/extension of the spine, and does windmills/washes. At the 13-minute mark, Miranda begins arms work with the bench. After brief wrist stretches, she performs two sets of triceps dips, stretching between the two sets. At 17 minutes, Miranda comes back to standing for a slow series of side stretches to work the abs. She moves to the floor (at 20.5) for a long (8 mins.) abs work segment that includes crunches, bicycles, legs up/down, legs in/out, and reaches for toes. The workout concludes with 4 minutes of seated stretches focused on the abs and back.
DISC 1, UPPER BODY - GARDEN ABS + WAIST (31 minutes)
This 3-minute warm-up includes arm stirs, rotations, Figure 8s, and golf swings. Next comes 3 minutes of Miranda's typical arms work. Following this, she performs a flowing stretch segment that emphasizes the waist and includes moves such as side lunges and windmills. This is followed by a second arms work segment, this one a bit longer (4 mins.) and with some less frequent moves, including pushing the elbows in and raising the elbows up; Miranda ends with wrist movements mimicking tossing a ball. She then performs slow side-to-side lunges to work the abdominals (similar to the first workout). At 21 minutes, Miranda moves to the floor for a 7-minute abs sequence that includes crunches, legs in/out, reaches, and bicycles. The 3-minute stretch starts lying on the stomach to stretch the abs; Miranda also performs a few brief back extensions, leg lifts, and child's pose to finish.
DISC 2, POOLSIDE - LOWER BODY + ABS (33 minutes)
The warm-ups for the the lower body segments are faster paced. This one includes movements of the arms and legs together plus knee ups and "leg throws" (kicks). The workout itself begins with a series of deep plies, adding in arm movements. Next comes a balance segment which includes feet articulation work and the alphabet (through "o" only, although Miranda recommends doing the entire alphabet twice); Miranda finishes with Figure 8 for the hips. This is followed by slow front lunges with kicks, then around-the-world lunges and finally both front and side kicks. Miranda then moves into a long series of side and rear leg lifts. She concludes the standing work with stretches for the calves and inner thigh. At the 23-minute mark, Miranda moves to the floor for a 3.5 minute abs series that includes crunch with inner thigh squeeze and lower crunch. Coming to seated, Miranda performs a short (3-minute) sequence of leg strengthening work with the legs stretched straight out in front. She concludes this workout with 3 minutes of stretching lying on the back.
DISC 2, GARDEN - LOWER BODY + ABS (35 minutes)
The 3-minute warm-up here includes side-to-side taps, knees, kicks, and hamstring curls. A plie segment follows, incorporating stretching, heel lifts, and little jumps. After just 7 minutes, Miranda moves down to the floor for the first 5.5-minute abs segment. It's a bit different, starting with partial roll-backs (adding rotating) before moving all the way down to the floor for crunches, including with the legs in/out and bicycles. Miranda then comes to a side-lying position to work the obliques, inner thighs, outer thighs, and glutes (about 3.5 minutes per side). At the 18-minute mark, she starts a second set of situps, beginning with single and double toe taps and then moving on to her more usual bicycles, oblique work, and crunches (4 mins. total). Miranda briefly stretches the abs on the stomach, and then this routine concludes with an extra-long (almost 10 minutes!) final stretch. Miranda starts seated for additional abs and quad stretches then moves to lying on the back for a long series of hip and hamstring stretches. Finally, she returns to seated and finishes with groin stretches.
I love Miranda's unique work for the arms, so it's no surprise that I especially liked the Upper Body disc of this set. I particularly enjoyed the second routine (Garden), which had two separate arm sequences and more unique moves, but I also enjoyed the standing abs/waist work in both workouts. Personally, I don't especially like doing traditional crunches for abs, so the second lower body workout (Garden), which had two different abs segments on the floor, was my least favorite of this set. Otherwise, I could see doing these workouts in the future and simply skipping those portions. Overall, these are great routines in the Classical Stretch tradition, and I would definitely recommend them.
I have been working out with Miranda for years now, and I enjoy her. She is definitely quirky--you'll notice her saying "whoops!" occasionally here when she loses her balance, and she may sometimes count unevenly (although I didn't really notice that in these workouts)--but those things don't bother me. I think her chattiness just makes her come across as sweet and genuine. ;)
Using upbeat instrumental music, with wonderful outdoor settings (both poolside and in a garden) in Cancun, Mexico, you'll sculpt and tone long strong muscles. Two distinct segments, one disc for upper body the other for lower body, both will assist the participant in toning their body (and gaining flexibility from the active stretches). Disc 1 is for the Upper Body and is broken down as follows:
Workout 1: Arms, Abs, Posture-30 minutes
Workout 2: Arms, Abs, Waist-30 minutes
Disc 2 is for the Lower Body and contains the following:
Workout 1: Lower Body & Abs-32 minutes
Workout 2: Lower Body & Abs-33 minutes
Each segment is only approximately 30 minutes in length so its easy to choose the workout based on your personal time constraints and needs.
Miranda's cuing is precise so you'll gain the most benefit from each pose. She'll often provide form pointers throughout each workout.
Each workout begins with fluid, rhythmic movements. Uniquely integrating isometrics with active stretching and traditional toning, you'll tighten and tone without the use of weights. Miranda often mixes traditional work (such as tricep dips, abdominal curls/bicycles, leg lifts, etc) with ballet inspired exercises. (some also mimic pilates which continue to add additional toning benefits)
Short pulses and static squeezes (or bounces as she sometimes calls it) will help to slenderize and trim the arms and legs (both inner and outer thighs) and reduce saddlebags.
The lower body disc includes some lower impact aerobic moves that will raise the heart rate and continue to burn fat. (very easy to follow moves such as side steps, kicks, hamstring curls, knees and twists) Ballet type moves are included in the lower body toning. Miranda blends the ballet exercises with well structured isometric elements (adding more toning emphasis to really work the glutes, saddlebags and thighs).
This program is low impact, requires no special equipment and can be done anywhere. If you enjoyed Miranda's other Classical Stretch programs, you'll be sure to like this one as well!