Essentrics Flexibility Workout for AthletesSahra Esmonde-White
Year Released: 2008
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Beth has provided her usual thorough review of this workout so I will not repeat that type of information but focus on my impressions and results. I obtained this workout from a kind VFer through share the wealth. I had a nagging hip injury (and had been sick) so I had been using other CS workouts for lower body work - but despite chiropractic and massage I could not clear the hip pain. This workout cleared the hip pain after using it one time. It has only returned briefly twice and in more mild form. Although I enjoy Miranda, I did like seeing the athletes working out with Sahra as they do not all possess Miranda and Sahra's natural flexibility. I found it motivating to realize they are all outstanding athletes even if they cannot perform the moves with the same flair as Miranda and Sahra. I really enjoy the music on both the essentrics.
Sahra and several athletes demonstrate to Miranda's voice over.
I had been wanting this workout forever, so I was thrilled to finally make a trade for it! Unfortunately, once I actually tried it, although I liked it, it wasn't quite what I expected and left me feeling a bit disappointed; I'll explain why in more detail below.
This workout is a collaboration between Miranda Esmonde-White, founder of the Classical Stretch technique, and her daughter, Sahra Esmonde-White. Miranda does not appear in the workout itself; rather, Sahra is shown as the lead demonstrator while Miranda instructs via voiceover. During the brief introduction, Sahra explains that the workout, which is designed for athletes to increase flexibility, is more lower body focused; this was my first disappointment, as the web site, essentrics.com, suggests a more lengthy upper body segment than is actually included on this DVD. Miranda notes that the exercises in the DVD are meant to be "progressive"--ie, you should not perform the segments out of order or independently of each other. Finally, Miranda recommends using the DVD 2-3 times per week for best results.
In addition to the Intro and Participants descriptions, the Main Menu offers options to select individual chapters (Standing/Floorwork/Barrework/Splits) or Play All. When you make your selection, you also have the choice of instruction with both Music & Voice, Music Only, or Voice only. Sahra works out with a group of 2-5 other athletes (the number varies for each segment) in a large, very bright studio with full windows in the background (in fact, the light coming in from the windows is a bit TOO bright, making the participants appear dark).
The first segment, Standing, is 20 minutes long, the first half of which is upper body work. This section begins with a very brief (<2 minutes) warm-up that consists primarily of gently rolling the shoulders to get the blood flowing. The upper body work continues to focus mainly on the shoulders, upper back, and chest through flowing but more intense movements, including rounding your body forward and then actively pulling to each side in turn. Side-to-side lunges are also incorporated into the upper body work. Next comes approximately 5 minutes of "Tai Chi plies," a very typical part of most Classical Stretch workouts; Miranda cues the group to tense and release the quad and hamstring muscles and has them perform some of the work on their toes. The standing segment concludes with 5 minutes of "airplane" work for the hamstrings, a nice section of forward bends and twists. Miranda then instructs you to get a mat for the 20 minute floorwork segment. This begins seated for a butterfly stretch, then moves to lying for baby (aka thread the needle) and an IT band stretch. Coming back to seated, Miranda leads the class through a series of seated forward bends to stretch the hamstrings. Next is a sequence of quad stretches (aka pigeon pose), and then the floorwork concludes with lying leg lifts, 32 total on each side.
The final portion of the main workout is the Barrework, which is 9 minutes long; Sahra and the two male athletes joining her use a chair for this section. The first part of the barre work involves stretches for the feet and calves, with the participants using the barre for balance only. In the second half, Miranda leads them through a series of hip stretches with one foot placed on the seat of the chair. This brings the total time of the workout in at 59 minutes, but there is also a bonus portion, the Splits. Miranda cautions that the bonus segment should NOT be attempted unless you have warmed up with the main workout first. The Splits segment starts out with an intense hip opener, frog pose (called "froggy" by Miranda), held for 2 minutes. Next, the group performs a wide-legged split at the wall, also held for 2 minutes. After this, Miranda cues some additional standing psoas and hamstring stretches and then has the participants attempt the splits, first on one side, then the other. This bonus segment is just 8.5 minutes long.
Overall, although I did like this workout, I had a few disappointments with it. As mentioned above, there was not quite as much upper body work as I was led to believe there would be; in particular, I missed Miranda's unique arms work. I also missed Miranda! Although she provided voiceover instruction, there was no way for her unique, quirky personality to shine through. In the end, although this DVD is definitely very well-done, I'm not sure that this workout offers anything new and improved over Miranda's Full Body Volume 1 or Volume 2. However, this might be a good choice for those who like the idea of the Classical Stretch workouts but who find Miranda's live personality to be a bit too over-the-top. Although Sahra is listed as the instructor, she doesn't really provide any actual instruction here; she is, however, an excellent model, as she has beautiful form--she is always smiling, too! Given the voiceover, Miranda is more low-key here than in her live instruction, and she doesn't make any cueing mistakes.
Expanding further into sport training, this program prepares the athlete in their preferred sport. Sahra and several olympians perform active stretches in a lengthened position. The dvd is broken down into the following chapters:
You'll also be able to choose your own sound options: music & voice, music only or voice only.
The set is the same as the other Essentric Workout Sahra put out. The music is instrumental & serene, working well for this type of workout.
You'll begin with a brief warmup. (I'd suggest doing the program after a good cardio session to further enhance the benefits) The standing session puts extra emphasis on the upper body. You'll work into the upper & lower back, deltoids, rhomboids, traps, triceps and biceps--it is very thorough! You'll also feel it in your chest. This would make a great session for those whose sport includes tennis or swimming. You are always moving (the stretches are very fluid), yet it is very relaxing. Sahra also demonstrates exercises to stretch the ankles, feet and legs. The floor work session targets tight hips, hamstrings, quads, groin, psoas and even into the lower back area. One person modifies for those that aren't as flexible. Great for runners, bikers or anyone that demands extra attention to their lower body. The split section is a "bonus" section for those that want to work up to doing full splits.
Tons of variety and beautiful music make this workout standout. You'll feel relaxed, increase your flexibility, help prevent injury and gain better mobility in your joints.