Hardcore: Stretch MaxCathe Friedrich
Year Released: 2005
Categories: Athletic Stretch
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I'm always looking for extended stretches to add on to my workouts and Cathe's Stretch Max from the Hardcore series is one of my go-to's if I budget 20 minutes to work out the kinks. Cathe leads her Hardcore crew in a series of athletic stretches while mellow music tinkles in the background. These are total-body stretch routines.
All workouts need a mat. Workout 1 uses no other equipment, Workout 2 uses a stability ball and you'll need a band or yoga strap for Workout 3.
These are not long, relaxing yoga-style stretches; Cathe holds most positions for 8 counts or so. The no-equipment workout seems to move the fastest, while the band workout has slightly longer holds and a lot of moves for hips and groin. All workouts incorporate standing and floor stretches but you don't jump up and down; you'll finish all the floor work before getting up, or all the standing work is at the beginning and then you move to the floor. Cathe says "next, we're gonna....." a lot as her standard cue. She doesn't cue about breath or positioning very well; I have to look at the screen frequently to see what she's doing in the ball workout.
Positives: short, thorough, familiar stretches
Negatives: stretches not held for long enough, cues could be more specific
Cathe is very professional, though she does seem a little out of her element in cueing a slower workout. This is the series in which she is the most muscular and ripped and it is impressive.
Iím reviewing this workout after doing the first and third segments at least half a dozen times in the year and a half Iíve had it.
General workout breakdown: There are three different flexibility segments, made up primarily of athletic stretches. The poses are held for a decent amount of time. You donít move in and out of them too quickly, but if youíre looking for long holds, this isnít the video for you.
*Stretch Workout #1 (about 21 min.) doesnít require any equipment. I found that this one had a yoga-like feel to it and touched upon the lower body quite a bit, with a lot for the hamstrings. The segment begins standing, with side bends, upper back and shoulder stretches, and neck rolls. Next come lots of forward bends with various leg and torso positions, then lunges, downward dog, and more forward bends. In a seated position come side bends, a shoulder stretch, triceps stretch, and more hamstring and oblique stretches (flowing between forward bend with one leg out into a ballet-type stretch with one leg out, one bent underneath you, and one arm reaching overhead). Cat and cow are done on all fours before lowering into childís pose, and then itís back up into down dog. After a brief rest on the back (first flat, and then with knees to chest) come reclined hamstring stretches and twists, and then itís up into pigeon with variations and finally a seated twist.
*Stretch Workout #2 (19 min.) requires a stability ball. (I havenít used this one because I didnít have a stability ball when I was using this DVD with some regularity.) The segment begins seated on the ball with shoulder rolls, side bends, lunges with arm variations, and shoulder stretches, and then moves from a bridge into a glutes stretch. Stretches done with the back and then the side on the ball follow. While seated on the floor the ball is rolled around to stretch the arms. Moving to a reclined position come more hamstring and glutes stretches plus a little for the inner thighs and a twist. After a straddle position, lying prone on the ball becomes upward dog and then a quadriceps stretch. After lunges and a forward bend comes around the world, holding the ball while standing.
*Stretch Workout #3 (just over 17 min.) uses a resistance band of minimal resistance. (Iíve also tried this with a yoga strap and even without anything, and it worked fine. You could easily substitute in an old tie, long belt, or even a towel.) This felt to me more like a total body stretch workout, with a good amount for the upper body, making it a good choice for after a total body or upper body weights workout. The segment begins on the back with a variety of stretches for the hamstrings and outer thighs and then a quadriceps stretch (this felt awkward to me, no matter what I did); this is followed by a twist into a C-stretch sequence. While seated come upper body stretches, including side bends, shoulder stretches, variations on cow face arms (i.e. triceps and shoulder stretches), forearm stretches, and chest openers; these are followed by seated hamstring stretches. Moving up to standing, you do more for the lower and upper body, including some side and back bends.
Level: Iíd recommend this to a beginner with a little stretching experience through an intermediate. Cathe doesnít include a lot of form instruction and pointers, although she does tend to include more with the exercises using the ball and band. There arenít a lot of modifications for those with very limited flexibility; those with somewhat limited flexibility (like myself) will probably find it easy to improvise by just not going down as far.
Class: Jai, Brenda, Rhonda, Lorraine, and Cedie join Cathe.
Music: soft instrumental. Sometimes itís nice flute-based music, sometimes itís jazzy, and sometimes itís more elevator-type stuff. (I usually find the music good or at least nice during the stretch portions of the Cathe videos I have, but overall the music here seems just OK to me.)
Set: the HardCore set: a sort of courtyard with gray columns and steps, potted ferns, casts of Classical / Renaissance sculpture (e.g. Diskobolos), and doors off to the one side, with a blue background behind.
Production: clear picture and sound. Neither is as crisp as on Catheís Intensity or BodyBlast series, but both are still high quality. The camera angles are helpful, and I didnít find them distracting.
Equipment: mat (or equivalent, depending upon your floor), stability ball for segment #2, resistance band (or equivalent) for #3.
Space Requirements: You should be able to move your arms and legs around freely while standing, seated, and lying down.
DVD Notes: The main menu allows you to select Intro to the Workout, each of the stretch workouts, and Credits. You are returned to the main menu at the end of the stretch segment. There are no chapter points within the segments.
Conclusion: This isnít a bad video. Iím still in search of the perfect stretch video, but this one does a decent job. The 20-minute length allows for more stretches than in Tamilee Webbís Total Body Stretch, but the holds are probably about the same length. These segments seem to be intended as add-ons after strength or cardio workouts (like Tamileeís video) rather than flexibility workouts meant for relaxation (such as Madeleine Lewisí PM Stretch or Tamileeís Beginnerís Stretch for Flexibility). I also like the resistance band workout better than the no equipment one because itís one of the few stretch segments on my videos that includes a good variety of stretches for the upper body.
Cathe isnít her usual chipper self here; sheís quiet, which is appropriate for this type of workout. Sheís professional but perhaps a little stiff in terms of her persona. She focuses almost exclusively on getting you into the stretch, indicating what to do with the ball or resistance band in those segments.
In 2004, I got into stretching workouts as a way of relaxing myself and dealing with really tight muscles, especially in the neck and shoulders. Since starting this, I have seen some real flexibility gains and have loosened up my neck and shoulder area. In putting together a combination of tapes, I have several athletic stretch tapes/DVDs and several yoga workouts that are mostly stretch oriented. The workouts I reach for most often are Tamileeís 10-minute stretches and Slim & Limber (just under 15 minutes) as add-ons after my regular workouts. When I want a longer workout that relieves major stress, I reach for Suzanne Deasonís Stress Relief Yoga and PM Yoga Conditioning for Weight Loss. I tend to do something short every day I work out, six days a week.
I was interested in this DVD because it has three stretches around 20 minutes and I thought Cathe would do a good job, the only question being how good of a job. Overall, I like this DVD and will keep it and make it a part of my regular stretch routine.
The set is the one used in all the Hardcore workouts with the statues, etc. The same group of background exercisers is there as well. She does not, however, interact with them at all. She doesnít look at them or refer to them after she introduces them. I enjoyed the music when I turned the volume up on my TV and could hear it. Itís instrumental.
Cathe didnít seem totally comfortable leading this workout. Given what a professional she is, it wasnít a major deal Ė she just didnít seem as relaxed and comfortable as she does in a strength workout. She didnít give as much instruction as I would like with breathing reminders, form pointers, etc. She gives some, but not much. There were times I enjoyed the quiet of not as much talking by the instructor and times I wished she would say more about the move she was having me do.
As far as specifics about the workouts:
Stretch #1 uses no equipment. It clocks in at 21 minutes. This was my least favorite of the three. It did leave me feeling relaxed though as was the only one with stretches for the neck specifically (something I look for a lot of days). It also had the most number of moves unfriendly to the wrist Ė around 2 or 3 stretches where you propped yourself up on your hands. For someone with wrist issues, you would want to modify or just be aware they are coming.
Stretch #2 uses the ball. It lasts for 19 minutes. I started out wondering if I would like this one and ended up feeling really good. So, Iíd say I liked it and it was my second favorite. There are just some moves you can do on the ball that you canít replicate otherwise at home.
Stretch #3 uses the resistance band and ran for 17 minutes. It was my favorite of the three and left me feeling really good! My resistance band is not as long as the ones used by Cathe and her group, but it wasnít a problem. Just be aware that they use bands that are longer than the average.
She is such a professional and is so here.
This DVD contains three 20 minute stretching segments. The first one uses no equipment, the second a stability ball and the third a resistance band. It is chaptered so you can pre-program a DVD player to only play one segment.
I've only done the first segment once and didn't much like it. The second segment I've done twice and thought it was OK. But I've done the resistance band segment several times and like it quite a bit. I think the band adds something different. In addition to the usual muscles, it targets the groin and forearms, which I think is nice.
I have modified it to get more out of the stretches. For instance, she begins with a set of groin and outer thigh stretches, alternating until you've done two each and then switching legs. Instead of doing two each, I hold the stretches longer and do one each.
I've tried beginning yoga and like it for how it really gets you to relax into the poses. But in general I prefer stretching workouts that aren't yoga. For some reason this workout has less dread factor for me than yoga. I'm more likely to do this twice a week, whereas I can barely bring myself to do yoga every 10 days.
Cathe doesn't seem particularly comfortable doing a stretch video. She doesn't remind people to breathe frequently enough, nor does she spend enough time on many of the stretches. I find this can be circumvented in some cases through some easy modifications.