Egoscue Pain-Free Workout Series, Volume 2Liba Placek, Brian Bradley
Year Released: 2007
Categories: Total Body Workouts, Yoga
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I recently picked up both volumes of the Egoscue Pain-Free series at a used book sale. This second volume is labeled "Advanced," and it is meant for those who are regular exercisers. Most (but not all) of the exercises which appeared in Volume 1 are included here plus many new exercises as well. The workout is not any longer because the instructor, Liba Placek (who modeled the exercises in the first routine) transitions quickly from one move to the next with little explanation.
The Main Menu offers several options. First, there is a brief Functional Test (trying to put your palms on the ground); this is supposed to be repeated at the end of the workout. Next, there is the option to select the Complete Workout, with Liba instructing live. Two other workout options are included. The first is Workout with Music only. Here, Liba's instructions are muted--instead the names of the exercises appear on screen, and an audio cue (a bell flourish) sounds when it is time to change exercises. I found this odd and awkward, especially with the loud, revival-like guitar music playing in the background. The final workout option is Workout with Muscular Explanations. Here, Liba's instruction is again muted, and Brain Bradley, the instructor from the first volume, is featured describing which muscles are being activated by each exercise; this segment is designed for medical professionals. The Menu also includes a resources section.
Liba instructs the workout alone in a plain studio. She uses a timer for the exercises which require a hold. I have listed all of the exercises below, sometimes offering brief descriptions.
1. Standing Arm Circles, 40 forward/40 backward
2. Lateral Leg Raises, 10 reps per leg/2 sets
3. Standing Elbow Curls, 20 reps
4. Standing Windmills (side bends), 5 reps per side/3 sets (moving legs wider)
5. Cats and Dogs (aka cat/cow), 10 reps
6. Hip Crossover Stretch, held 1 minute per side
7. Hip Lift with Oblique Crunches, held 30 sec per side/10 crunches
8. Free Crunches*, 20 reps/2 sets
9. Flutter Kicks* (lying face-up), 100 reps
10. Sphinx Pose, held 30 sec legs narrow/30 sec legs wide
11. Active Cobra (pushing soles of feet together), 20 reps
12. Opposite Hand-Leg Lifts, lying prone, 5 reps per side (held 5 secs each)
13. Opposite Hand-Leg Lifts, hands & knees, 5 reps per side (held 5 secs each)
14. Downward Dog, held 1 minute
15. Upper Spinal Twist (lying), held 1 minute per side
16. IT Band Stretch (lying, bottom leg straight), held 1 minute per side
17. Pelvic Tilts, 10 reps
18. Full Situps* (with bent knees), 10 reps
19. Active Bridges, 10 reps
20. Full Situps* (with bent knees), 10 reps
21. Supermans (with moving arms), hold 1 minute
22. Extended Wide-Legged Forward Bend, held 30 seconds in center and each side
23. Extended Side Angle, hold 1 minute each side
24. Push-ups (legs spread), 10 reps
25. Downward Dog, hold 1 minute
26. Push-ups (legs spread), 10 reps
27. Free Squat, hold 1 minute
I had some mixed feelings about this routine. On the one hand, I really liked some of the moves, including the opening exercises for the upper body (#1-4), which were not included on Volume 1. I also felt that lying spinal twists and hip stretches were very effective. On the other hand, the exercises that I marked with the asterisk (*) felt very jerky and more likely to hurt the back than to be helpful; I modified or skipped these altogether.
The "Pain-Free" label of this DVD seems like somewhat of a misnomer. Some of these exercises are fairly challenging, and they would likely be quite difficult for someone attempting them for rehab work; this DVD is probably better used as prehab/injury prevention for more experienced exercisers.
Liba generally taught well, and she does mirror cue. I would say her teaching style is pretty no-nonsense. She has a fairly heavy accent, but I found that with few exceptions, I was able to understand her relatively easily.
I rented this workout from Netflix, which means I received no written materials that might have come with this DVD (one of the cons of renting!). Therefore, the background information I’m giving here is mostly taken from a description at Amazon. The Egoscue Pain-Free Workout Series consists of two volumes. Volume 1 is for those who do not exercise on a regular basis. Volume 2 is for anyone in good physical condition or currently in an exercise program. Both focus on proper alignment, posture, and active muscle engagement. This review is for Vol. 2. There are three versions of the same 42-minute workout on the DVD. Liba Placek, the Egoscue Director of Athletics, demonstrates and instructs in the first version. The second version is just a music-only option, so you’ll see her lips moving as she instructed in the first version. In the third version, Brian Bradley, the Egoscue VP of Therapy Protocol, explains in technical terms (via voiceover) how every exercise affects your body and the reason for its use.
Setting: Liba is in a large, rather plain-looking room. The music is a soft and pleasant acoustic guitar soundtrack. She uses no props, that I recall, except for maybe a mat. She is wearing athletic clothes–-what appears to be bike or running (knee-length) shorts, a close-fitting knit top, and sneakers.
Workout Description: The workout is quite basic in nature, but the exercises seemed to me to be quite effective for the goals of this workout–-to be, or to remain, pain-free. Liba Placek is the only demonstrator. You begin with a few exercises for the upper back (for example, standing arm circles, with thumbs facing forward for 30 reps, and then thumbs facing back for 30 reps). Then you move to the floor for what she calls ‘cats and dogs’ (yoga stretch on all fours), and a hip stretch lying on your back. This is followed by ab strengthening exercises, and a series of ‘cobras’ and other similar back strengtheners and stabilizers. Next comes one minute in downward facing dog, followed by spinal twists and stretches for the hip and IT band. Pelvic tilts are next, followed by alternating back and abs exercises (bridges and situps, repeated once each). Supermans, with various arm positions, are next, followed by wide-legged forward bends (ahhh!). There’s another yoga pose here, also, but I don’t know that name of it (sorry!), then you move back down to the floor for wide-legged pushups (she does boy pushups!), another one-minute down dog, more pushups, more ‘cats and dogs,’ alternating down dogs with up dogs, another forward bend, chair pose, and standing stretch.
Reps are done in 10s, so you might do 10 reps of certain exercises, up to no more than 30 reps for each exercise. Most of the stretches are held for one minute, and for no fewer than 30 seconds. The workout moves along fairly briskly, as she does not take much time to set up each exercise. There are no modifications shown, but she does occasionally say to skip reps or to stop and rest as needed.
General Comments: Despite the “Pain-Free” title, this is not a beginner’s workout, by any means. Beginners might want to check out Volume 1 instead. I would recommend this workout to active people (and experienced exercisers) who need extra stabilization, strength, and flexibility in the core muscles supporting the back and spine.
Evaluation: It works for me! I’d give it a B+/A-, just because it’s a bit on the dull side. However, I think it has great value to people like me who need extra help with their backs.
Liba speaks with an Eastern European accent, but I had no difficulty understanding her. She does not give a whole lot of instructions or form pointers, but I assume that many of the basic elements of this workout must have been covered in Volume 1. She is what I would call a serious instructor, but with a pleasant way of speaking. She did tend to count a lot, or to be repetitive with her instructions (for example, up and down, up and down, etc.), but once you’ve learned the workout, you can switch to the music-only version (how nice!).