Advanced Lastics: A Stretch That Moves You

Donna Flagg
Year Released: 2014

Categories: Athletic Stretch

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I am a daily exerciser who also frequently practices yoga and other forms of stretching. However, I am not naturally very flexible, and so sometimes I feel the need for more specific routines which focus on longer, more intense stretches. I first tried the original Lastics: A Stretch Workout Like No Other DVD, which was actually fairly challenging for me. I could have just stayed with that routine, but someone offered to give me Advanced Lastics, so I decided to try this one as well.

As with the original, Advanced Lastics is led by creator Donna Flagg, a dancer. This workout is filmed in a brighter studio, with exposed brick walls and windows, and Flagg is joined by both students who appeared in the first video, Alyssa and Patty (although this time, Patty is present for the entire routine). The original had no menu; Advanced Lastics has an excellent Main Menu which not only lists each chapter but also provides short descriptors--and times as well!--to the right when you scroll over that item. For example, scrolling over "Play All" tells you that you will get "an hour-plus stretch fit for Gumby." I have listed the remaining chapters plus additional details below.

This is some brief information on what you need to know before beginning the program. Flagg suggests certain criteria of flexibility necessary to perform this routine, including being about to bend over and touch your toes, being able to sit with your back straight in a seated straddle, and being able to touch your hands to the floor in a split. If you can't do any of these things, she recommends using the original Lastics DVD.

WARM-UP (7:31)
As the descriptor suggests, this truly does provide you with the opportunity to get into your body "head-to-toe." Flagg and crew begin standing for a side bend with arms stretch and hip release. This is followed by a wrist stretch and neck release with arm twist. Next, Flagg moves through a standing forward bending series that includes squatting in a wide a close plie position, circling the arms, and other variations. She finishes kneeling for foot and additional wrist stretches.

This section begins seated with the legs straight out in front. The hands are laced behind the head and the head is pulled forward while stretching the neck muscles. This stretch is repeated and performed from various angles, such as with a twist. The legs are then taken into a straddle and the neck stretch is performed from this position. A twist is added, going deeply into a revolved position.

HIPS (15:05)
This segment also starts in a seated position. Again with the legs out in front, one leg is crossed over the other, placing the ankle on the opposite thigh so that the legs form a "4." From this position, you forward bend over the leg, repeating on the second side. Moving the legs into a butterfly position, Flagg has you contract and lengthen the spine several times, and then repeat this in a straddle position. Coming to seated, you bend the legs into a lightning bolt position (aka pretzel) and lift and lower the hip; repeat on second side. The last move is sitting with the legs crossed in a cow-face position (knees stacked) and bending forward, repeating on both sides.

The menu notes that this section works the hamstrings from three different angles. You start lying on your back with the heels in the hands. Holding on to one leg behind the hamstring, you use a combination of the straight leg/core strength to roll into a sitting position. The next stretch involves moving the leg over the head, still holding on. The final angle involves moving the leg out to the side, eventually actually rolling out to the side with the legs in a splits position. You then relax briefly in reclined butterfly before repeating the entire sequence on the second side.

For this segment you'll start lying on your back, holding your legs in your hands, almost in a shoulderstand-type position. Flagg gives the option of moving the straight legs up to touch the floor behind the head (plow). Releasing this pose, she has you move down slowly through a straddle position. Next is a cross-leg twist. This is followed by table (aka reverse table) and what she calls bridge, a full backbend (aka wheel pose in yoga). This second concludes with the reclined twist on the second side.

Flagg and crew return to standing to begin this segment. Flagg starts in a split leg forward bend position, then moves into a lunge. From this position, she lowers and raises the knee several times before moving into a runner's lunge, adding a hamstring stretch to this. From here, Flagg moves right into the splits, adding several even more advanced variations, including lying over the front leg and adding a hamstring stretch. After repeating on the second side, Flagg performs an inverted V (aka downward dog) and returns to standing. The second round begins with the same split stance, moving from a split standing forward bend right into standing splits. This is followed by a three-legged V push-up and then repeated on the second side. Flagg finishes this section with some final forward bending and deep breathing, and that concludes the workout; there is no final cool-down.

I definitely found this routine to be more advanced than the original Lastics. As I noted above, I am not very naturally flexible, and there were definitely moves in this DVD that I could not do, particularly in the final (Splits) chapter. I really appreciated that Patty was shown throughout the program to offer modifications (unlike in the original, where only Donna herself and Alyssa were featured). However, I found that sometimes even Patty's modifications were too advanced for me. Still, I think this workout would be appropriate for experienced intermediates (like myself) who are comfortable modifying on their own when needed; otherwise, this is definitely an advanced stretching routine.

Instructor Comments:
In both this DVD and the original Lastics, I liked Donna's style. I have tried other fitness videos by dancers and have found that they seemed standoffish, but Donna seemed very down-to-earth to me. She cues well (although not mirrored, and she says "yeah?" a lot), and I had no problems following her instruction. However, she is VERY flexible, and she goes much more deeply into the poses than I could! She is pretty good about telling you to only go as far as you are able to though.

Beth C (aka toaster)