Classical Stretch Stretching For MenMiranda Esmonde-White, Alexandre Despatie
Year Released: 2006
Categories: Athletic Stretch , Strength Training (Total Body)
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This DVD presents a 45-minute Classical Stretch workout, along with a separately chaptered bonus section of hip openers.
The workout is led by Miranda Esmonde-White, who created Classical Stretch. Miranda is a former ballerina, and initially developed CS to cope with chronic back pain. CS draws on dance, barre, tai chi and many other influences. No equipment is used except for a mat for floor work and a “barre” for standing stretches (Miranda usually uses a chair or a railing – anything sturdy enough to support the foot/leg for stretching). CS is done barefoot.
The DVD was filmed at a Mexican resort. Instead of the usual workout tunes which mainly keep a beat, Miranda uses a variety of classical and other music (hence the “Classical” part of the name).
It is hard to compare Classical Stretch to other workouts as it is truly unique. In a CS workout you will thoroughly stretch the entire body in all planes of motion, which feels wonderful and should help relieve chronic aches and pains. However, many of the movements also strengthen the muscles in the “eccentric” or elongated position (as opposed to traditional weight training, which strengthens muscle in the “concentric” or shortened position). CS is effective as a fitness system by itself, but it is also complementary to a wide variety of activities, and in fact Miranda works with professional and Olympic athletes from many sports.
In Stretching For Men, Miranda joined by Alexandre Despatie, a world and Olympic champion diver who has studied with Miranda for five years. Alex does the workout along with Miranda, and contributes his own observations (along with some occasional good-natured groaning!). Sometimes Miranda will stand or kneel next to Alex as he does the moves to point out what muscles are being worked.
The DVD is chaptered as follows:
-Basics of Classical Stretch (8:35): A helpful section in which Miranda explains some of the basic body positions used in CS.
-Introduction (3:30): Miranda explains this CS program is specifically designed for men, who tend to have short, tight muscles which restrict their range of motion. By doing CS, Miranda says men (well, of course anyone) will free up their joints, improve posture, and increase strength and speed for sports activities.
-Stretch Workout (45 minutes total): The main workout. There are chapter points within this section as follows.
-Standing section (18:30): After a sports-oriented warm-up, Miranda and Alex do a series of flowing back stretches followed by a short unweighted arm section (“Don’t worry if you hate it,” says Alex, “because everyone that I know does too!”). We follow with a longer series of held plies which challenge the thigh muscles, then standing leg stretches. Next are some signature CS moves – side to side washes, the clock, and the airplane. One minor quibble with this section – Miranda and Alex are on a beach standing in deep sand, which somewhat obscures their foot positioning.
-Barre section (12:30): Miranda and Alex move to a patio, and use sturdy chairs as their “barre.” Foot articulation exercise begins this section, followed by hip cleaners and a quad stretch. One leg is then placed on the chair/barre for stretching out the glutes, hips, psoas, low back and hamstrings.
-Floor work (13:20): Now we are poolside. This section begins with Miranda’s side-lying leg lifts, which emphasize pulling the leg out away from its socket while lifting it (ouch!). This section concludes with gentler seated forward stretches, groin stretches and spinal twists.
-Bonus Advanced Stretches (7:40): Floor stretches designed to open up the hip joints.
-Special Thanks: Credits.
As noted, Miranda’s comments are particularly targeted towards men throughout the workout, but of course women will enjoy this routine as well. Alex is a welcome presence in this DVD. As a diver, he is of course more flexible than the average guy, but he’s not Gumby either so most home exercisers can probably relate better to his own range of motion in performing the exercises. Besides, Alex just comes across as a really nice guy – very pleasant and personable, with an excellent sense of humor and an easy rapport with Miranda. He is also familiar with Classical Stretch and offers helpful comments that supplement Miranda’s instruction.
Bottom line: Stretching For Men may be the most accessible of the currently available Classical Stretch workouts. I also really enjoy the camaraderie between Miranda and Alex. This is a DVD I would suggest to anyone who would like to see what Classical Stretch is all about.
The best place to buy Classical Stretch DVDs is their website: www.classicalstretch.com. As of the date of this review Stretching For Men is still available through the CS website. Classical Stretch appears to be a fairly small operation, and their DVDs go in and out of print (sometimes they stay out of print!). The CS DVDs do show up on eBay and Amazon, but almost always at wildly inflated prices (particularly for the out-of-print workouts). The CS website sometimes offers free shipping when purchasing multiple DVDs, so if you don’t already own Stretching For Men, it would make a good choice to add to your cart if placing an order with Classical Stretch.
Miranda has a quirky, chatty personality which I personally enjoy but which might not appeal to some. In Stretching For Men she at least has Alex to talk with! At first Miranda might come across as a bit flaky, but as you listen to her and learn the CS exercises you realize she really knows her stuff.