Essentrics Strength & Stretch in MotionSahra Esmonde-White
Year Released: 2012
Categories: Athletic Stretch , Ballet/Barre
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I've only done the stretch dvd so far(just got this today!) I loved the stretch dvd. I started with the first workout-hips and hamstrings- and it's just Sahra by herself. After the warmup she uses a chair for balance and works the legs. Beth has already given the details(which is good since I don't remember all the stretches!)so I'll just add that I felt very stretched afterwards! She does little different moves like adding arms or turning the leg one way or the other to make the same stretch feel a bit different. The chair is also used to support the foot/leg for some of the strtches as well as for a back stratch near the end. At the end she has you fold down like a rag doll and touch the floor - I was surprised I could do this no problem! I usually struggle to reach the floor in yoga and usually can't! I felt so good after this stretch that I decided to go ahead and try the 2nd one that was for shoulders and hamstrings- and I think back - in this one it's standing and on the floor (no chair) and she has 2 others with her - Jean Luc and Shanna I think. There were more arm and shoulder movements in this one then she did some nice calf/quad standing exercises then we went to the floor where I struggled to do the stretches on my back - I think she says in one that some people have more bulk in their thighs! these felt nice in spite of my struggle then we went to seated stretches and I loved these. She talks about sitting on a prop if we needed and I'm glad she did because turns out I needed it for the back exercises! She did legs straight in front with feel pointed and flexed for a few rounds or forward bends with arm movements. This felt nice.
I'm curious about the strength dvd now and will probably do it soon. I was tired after work and hoped by doing the stretch dvd it would be less challenging and more relaxing than the strength workouts. For a minute I thought the first routine was strength with the going up on the toes stuff but it felt nice and didn't go on long enough to have me in agony!
I didn't think I would like Sahra since I like Miranda but I was surprised. I found her to be graceful yet down to earth. She made mistakes but corrected herself and I just couldn't help but like her. She talks throughout the routine and gives pointers and says what we're stretching and shows the incorrect way to do stuff so we don't do it wrong. Very pleasant voice and easy to understand.
This 2-DVD set is one of two new releases by Sahra Esmonde-White (the other is "Essentrics: Class of 2012"). Sahra is the daughter of Miranda Esmonde-White, founder of the Classical Stretch workout series. Although the exercises in the various Essentrics workouts are quite similar to the parent Classical Stretch programs, in general, the music tends to be a bit more upbeat, the setting more modern (here, the Montreal Science Center), and the overall sense seems to be that Essentrics is striving to appeal to a somewhat younger audience than Miranda's followers.
The two Essentrics discs in this DVD set are nicely packaged (they came with a bit of foam between them for cushioning). There are two 25-minute workouts on each disc, with the Main Menus lists options for About Essentrics/Classical Stretch, Workout 1, and Workout 2. Sahara instructs all of the workouts live, sometimes by herself, sometimes with two background exercisers. I have broken down each of the workouts in detail below.
DISC 1--STRENGTH IN MOTION
*Workout 1: Core & Legs*
Sahra works out here with Pier-Luc and Erica. I liked that she began with some brief upper body stretches; in fact, although all of the routines in this set have defined target areas, they are definitely full-body workouts. However, I found the standing flow segment to be a bit repetitive, as there seemed to be a lot of cutting the air/lunging and reaching/pulling moves. After 10 minutes of standing, Sahra and crew move to the floor for an abs segment. In full disclosure, I tend not to like traditional abs work involving crunches, etc., so I was not a fan of this section. Moves here included hip raises, leg scissors, and flutters. I did enjoy the side leg lift series which followed, as this nicely targeted the outer hip. Finally, this workout concludes with a nice 5-minute stretching segment, starting lying for the baby stretch and moving to seated for a series of groin and other stretches.
*Workout 2: Full Body*
Sahra was alone here. This routine started with an easy warm-up consisting of gentle throws, tennis moves, and kicks. Next came a really nice series of stretches for the shoulders, back, and abs. Continuing to work the core and posture, Sahra performs plies and a move very similar to Miranda's "Caribbean Spine." She then does an arms work segment which includes bow and arrow as well as moves working the arms and legs together; this is followed by additional plies. This all-standing workout concludes with a 5-minute standing stretch which targets the quads, soleus, hamstring, and calves.
DISC 2--STRETCH IN MOTION
*Workout 1: Hips & Hamstrings*
Sahra is alone again for this practice; with the exception of the warm-up, she uses a barre (chair) for the majority of the workout. Again, she begins with a few nice upper body stretches here, then moves on to some work with the feet and ankles. Moving into a series of stretches using the barre, Sahra performs hip cleaners, quad stretch, and hips, glutes, and psoas stretches with the foot on the seat of the chair. Continuing with the foot on the chair, she moves into a long series of hamstring stretches, thoroughly targeting this area, including the IT band. Sahra sits on the chair to perform calf stretches, and she concludes the workout with about 3 minutes of standing stretches for the side and back.
*Workout 2: Shoulders, Upper Body, & Hamstrings*
For this workout, Sahra is joined by Pier-Luc and Shana. The warm-up gradually moves into lots of nice, shoulder-opening work (i.e., a more gentle version of Miranda’s “shoulder blast”). This is followed by a unique shoulder/neck rotational move—loved this! Sahra then performs standing calf and quad stretches. At about halfway through the routine, she moves to the floor, starting with lying on the back for a long series of stretches including the baby stretch and then continued stretching/lengthening from a seating position involving groin stretches, back work, and calf stretches.
Overall, this DVD was a GREAT purchase for me! I love the 25-minute length of the workouts (easy to use as add-ons), and the workouts themselves were just wonderful. Although I know I will use all four routines regularly, I particularly enjoyed the second workouts on both discs, probably due to the amazing shoulder opening work in these two routines. Highly recommended!
Although I do like her mother, Miranda, I enjoy working out with Sahra as an occasional change of pace. I find her to be extremely graceful, and I enjoy aspiring to move like her. I think she offers helpful form tips, and I generally find her mirrored cuing fine, although like her mother, she can be known to make the occasional cuing error (but also like her mother, she has a great sense of humor about it!).