Soul Stretches

Ulrick Bien-Aime
Year Released: 2005

Categories: Athletic Stretch

Video Fitness reviews may not be copied, quoted, or posted elsewhere without the permission of the reviewer

Show oldest reviews first

This is a good, basic stretching tape. Ulrich Bien-Aime instructs, while three people demonstrate beginner, intermediate and advanced levels of the stretch.

The dvd has 7 chapters: introduction, basic stretching facts, health tips, 2 slower instructional sessions matched with 2 faster stretching sections that repeat the same material as the instructional sessions, just at a faster pace. Each stretching section has 15 stretches; the first session focuses on lower body and the second 15 on upper body. The non-exercise portions are well presented and easily skipped for later workouts.

To start, one should follow the instructional sections. The stretches are held about 20-30 seconds, with lots of good form pointers, for a total session of around 10 minutes. The two faster stretching sections repeat the same stretches as the instructional sections but without all of the form pointers. Stretches are held 10-15 seconds each for a total of about 7 minutes per session. These sessions are designed to give a basic routine someone would do morning and evening, for example. The stretches hit most muscles, and Ulrich is good about explaining what is being stretched and where you should feel it.

The stretches will be familiar to most; there is nothing revolutionary about them. The sequencing is good, and the stretches evenly balanced between body sides. During the instructional sessions, Ulrich stands near the exercisers to instruct, with the exercisers on platforms, pretty much visible throughout the workout. During the faster sessions, the exercisers are presented in three distinct “windows” and are visible all the time, with the intermediate exerciser in the largest window. Instruction is voice-over; Ulrich is not on screen during these sessions.

Ulrich’s voice is pleasant, and he instructs in a calm, unhurried manner. The exercisers (2 women, 1 man) are varied with varied body types. They all wear sport tops with long pants. The music is upbeat instrumental – reasonably interesting but nothing to write home about. The camera work is very basic – no artsy shots – and mostly straight on. For most exercises, I am able to see clearly what the exercisers are doing and follow along. There are a points in the instructional section where Ulrich obscures one of the exercisers. I didn’t find this to be a problem, but some beginners might.

Overall, I liked the workout and the instructor’s style. I prefer stretches to be held longer, so while I enjoy the sequencing and instruction, I’m less likely to do this workout along with the dvd. For background on me, I enjoy Karen Voight’s Pure and Simple Stretch while others find it an insomnia cure. I dislike power yoga and love slow, precise hatha yoga. This workout would appeal to someone who wanted to basic stretching routine that moves at a moderate pace. With the two versions of each session, however, I think most people would find a pace that suits them.

Instructor Comments:
Ulrich is very pleasant with a calm instructional style and good voice. He presents the material well.



Well, I tried this today and I'm not that crazy about it. It didn't have some of my favorite stretches and had too many of the ones I don't particularly like. The stretches aren't held long enough for me. And the transitions aren't smooth between some of them.

It isn't relaxing like Debbie Siebers' "Slim & Limber", which is my favorite short stretch video.

The instructor has a great voice and is very easy on the eyes. But, I don't think that is enough to make me want to do this stretch very often.

Instructor Comments:
Please see review.



The set is simple but not hard on the eyes with lots of greenery. The music is rather forgettable. There are three people demonstrating the movements at beginner, intermediate and advanced levels. Although there are many yoga-based poses like plow and pigeon, the emphasis is on athletic stretching with zero spiritual talk.

The workout is broken up into four segments. You do fifteen poses at a slower pace with lots of instruction and then repeat the poses again at a much faster pace with minimal instruction. Then you are introduced to 15 more poses that are done in similar fashion. Since most of the instruction is done on the first side, I found many instances where the second side was not held as long leaving me feeling unevenly stretched.

At the end of the workout, I can't stay I felt very stretched out or relaxed; perhaps it's the overly clinical approach. For an athletic-based stretch workout, I would much more highly recommend Tamilee Webb.

Instructor Comments:
Mr. Bien-Aime is very professional in his manner and conscientious about giving lots of instruction.