Essentrics Workout

Sahra Esmonde-White
Year Released: 2008

Categories: Ballet/Barre

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This is one of two Essentrics DVDs originally released by Sahra Esmonde-White, daughter of Miranda Esmonde-White, founder of the Classical Stretch DVDs. Sahra is a Classical Stretch trainer herself and appears in many of her mother's workouts, but it is likely that the Essentrics line was deigned to appeal to younger viewers.

I am a Classical Stretch fan, but prior to trying this DVD, I had tried Sahra's other workout, Essentrics Flexibility for Athletes. I actually didn't like that one much at all, mainly because it was cued via voicever (by Miranda), which had a much different feel than the casualness of the Classical Stretch workouts that I was used to and enjoyed.

I thought I might like this workout better, as Sahra cues live here. She is featured in the same set as the other DVD (a large, almost industrial studio with large windows in the background), and she is joined by two female background exercisers, Ileana and Lawrence, who are also Essentrics trainers.

This DVD is broken up into two separate 30-minute workouts: Workout 1: Arms, Abs & Waist Toner, and Workout 2: Legs, Butt, & Thighs Thinner. The Main Menu of the DVD offers a brief (<1 minute) introduction to each workout, an option to "Play All" for each of the two workouts, and finally, a "Scene Selection" option which lets the viewer choose from Standing/Floorwork for the first workout and Standing/Floorwork/Barre Work for Workout 2. I have broken down each workout in great detail below.

Workout 1: Arms, Abs & Waist Toner

Sahra begins this workout with a 3-minute warm-up which includes single arm circles (starting small and becoming larger) and then side-to-side lunges. This is followed by a 6.5-minute standing flow section with shoulder blasts and more side-to-side lunges to work the waist and back. The first arms series (3 minutes) follows, incorporating typical Classical Stretch movements for the arms and shoulders. After this, Sahra performs another standing stretch segment (6 minutes), this time emphasizing windmills and washes. She concludes the standing work with a second 3-minute arms series which focuses more on the triceps.

The final 8.5 minutes of this workout is on the floor. First, there is approximately 6.5 minutes of abs work. Sahra incorporates both crunches and more Pilates-like movements. She then finishes with 2 minutes of stretches, including a stomach stretch (cobra pose) and side stretches in a seated position.

Workout 2: Legs, Butt, & Thighs Thinner

This workout begins with a 3-minute warm-up. Here Sahra also incorporates single arm circles, but she also performs quite a few gentle kicks to loosen up the lower body, and she finishes with Figure 8s (aka hip cleaners) to loosen the hips. This is followed by a 3-minute plie series. Although these are Tai Chi plies (as in Classical Stretch), Sahra teaches them a bit differently.

That's it for the initial standing work--Sahra then moves to the floor for the floorwork series (14.5 minutes total). She starts lying on one side for leg lifts; she targets both the outer and the inner thigh here. She also works with the knees bent to more specifically focus on the butt. The last 5 minutes of the floorwork is a seated stretch segment which includes twist, butterfly, seated forward bend, and thigh lengthening work.

For the last 9.5 minutes of this workout, Sahra and company use a chair for barre work. At first, the chair is used only for balance, as Sahra performs several sets of rear pulses to target the butt (3 minutes). Following this, however, she instructs stretches for the hips, psoas, and hamstring, placing one foot at a time on the barre.

To my surprise, I enjoyed the lower body portion more than the upper--I love the Classical Stretch arms work, so I expected to like Workout 1 better. I did like that Workout 1 had two separate arms segments, but I felt that the standing sections dragged a bit. However, these were great for stretching the back/waist (although I thought that the lower body workout was even more effective for stretching my low back, which has been bothering me of late).

In the end, I enjoyed this DVD, and I would recommend it!

Instructor Comments:
I like Miranda, but now that I've experienced Sahra teaching live, I like her too. Sahra is not quite as goofy as her mother, Miranda, although they do share the tendency to sometimes miscount repetitions from side-to-side. ;)

Beth C (aka toaster)


2 unique programs designed to tone and shape the entire body. The Essentric Technique is different from traditional programs due to the strengthening of the muscle being used in a lengthened position.

Workout 1 Arms, Abs & Waist Toner focuses on the upper body. Workout 2 Legs, Butt & Thigh Thinner targets the lower body. This makes a great split body routine (or do both for a total body blast).

Filmed at the Montreal Science Center, Sahra leads the workout while 2 female assistants perform the workout as well. The dvd is well chaptered so it is easy to navigate and select an area you may want work on any given day.

Workout 1 is broken up into two sections: standing work and floor work. You will begin with a fluid warmup to gently stretch the area and prepare for the deeper essentric exercises. Using no weight at all, you'll focus specifically on the contractions. Every movement is controlled and tight (you'll also perform lots of reps). Arm circles, raises, pumps--all muscles in the arms are going to feel it working! The floor work section begins with traditional abdominal work. Sahra performs multiple versions of crunches to hit all areas of the abs, including the obliques.

Workout 2 has three different segments: standing, floor work and barre work. Do them all or choose any segment to fit your needs. Again you'll begin with a small warmup to get the blood pumping and prepare the lower body for the toning. In the standing segment you'll focus on the inner thigh area, performing several sets of plies each with unique variations. The floor work segment is reminiscent of traditional floor work exercises but with a "twist". Sahra focuses on the lengthening of the move which adds an additional burn. (this segment really focuses on the outer thigh/hip region) The Z move is tough! (the floor work section is my personal favorite) The barre work uses a chair. This segment hones in on the buttock/hamstring area very effectively. You'll conclude the workout with a few stretches using the chair.

Instructor Comments: