Essentrics: Barre Workout is led by Sahra Esmonde-White. I’ve been looking forward to doing a workout by Sahra. Her mother, Miranda Esmonde-White is the creator of Classical Stretch/Essentrics. I was charmed by Sahra. She did not remind me of her mother at all at first, but then, sometimes her mannerisms or the manner in which she would say something reminded me of a low key Miranda. She led a tough and thorough workout. I honestly was not expecting to work as hard as I did. This is a long workout (64 minutes) but that is the full version. There are several premixes plus you can do the individual chapters. So you do not have to do what I did this morning and do the entire hour+ workout. With that said, it is not 64 minutes of hard work. Some sections worked me hard, some worked me well but not hard and others felt good. When I return to this workout, I will definitely be doing a shorter version.
I cannot help but compare Sahra’s instruction to her mother’s. But first, let me explain what Classical Stretch/Essentric workouts are all about. They are mobility workouts that incorporate flexibility and strength. Any strength work is body weight so you will never use dumbbells or resistance bands. You do use a chair and a fitness mat in most workouts. You are usually in constant motion and even when you repeat moves some detail about it frequently changes. So instructing a Classical Stretch/Essentric workout is all in the details of how to perform each move properly so you get the most out of the workout. Miranda is very good at it. Sahra is better. I think I got more out of this Essentrics workout than I have any of the others I’ve done due to Sahra’s instruction. She is very good.
The parts of this workout that really challenged me are the strength portions. Particularly the standing upper body work and the mat lower body work. My lower body is already suffering some DOMS from yesterday’s workout (Cathe Live: Glutes & Thighs) so I am not 100% sure the lower body mat work would have been so painful had I not already been sore. But I also know from doing Miranda’s lower body mat work that it is challenging and does work your lower body nicely. BTW, if you have been doing barre workouts for a while then you know that mat work can be brutal but trust me, Classical Stretch/Essentrics takes it to a new level. The odd thing is, they usually do not go for the high rep burn out like other mat and barre workouts do (Barlates, Tonique, Cathe). They kill you through the unique leg positioning you incorporate into each exercise. You may only do 4 or 8 reps but OMG do you feel them. Of course, in the mat portion of this workout, Sahra may only have you do 4 or 8 reps of each exercise, but she does 10 exercises, one right after the other on the same leg with no break. So in a sense, it is high rep. BTW–10 is just a guestimate. I didn’t count. It could be more than 10–it was a lot. The floor stretch is only 7 minutes but it is beautiful and feels so good. The barre toning worked my lower body well, too, but the mat work was harder. Finally the barre stretch is very typical of Classical Stretch/Essentric’s workouts. Lots of mobility/dynamic flexibility work using a chair but I really felt, in this workout at least, Sahra brought some clarity to a few of the moves so that I felt them deeper than I normally do. She also brought some discomfort to some because I went much deeper into the stretch than I normally do with Miranda. The premixes are great but I actually think I would rather put my own workouts together from the chapters. For instance I would always want to end any thing I do with the beautiful floor stretch and that is only included in one premix–and it doesn’t end the premix either. So I will just piece my own workouts together.
As with all Classical Stretch/Essentrics workouts, I am not giving a detailed breakdown. Too much is going on. I am just giving a summary of what you can expect in each section plus how long each section is and any equipment you will need. Since I did the full workout, that is how I break down the chapters but each chapter can be done separately or as part of one of the premixes which are listed just below the break down.
Full Barre Workout is 64 minutes. The workout starts with the standing exercises (Standing 14:30 minutes). Sahra begins the workout with a warm up, swinging arms in all different ranges of motion that also engage the spine. Next you start warming up the legs with kick variations. Next you focus on the upper body, spine and core with slower mobility/flexibility moves. Continue the upper body/core focus but now the lower body is add with lunges and plies. The focus moves to the core but you are still standing and using your arms to stretch and engage the core. Next the focus is arm strengthening exercises (this is the part that really burned my arms out).
Next you move to the floor to work your lower body (Floor Toning 9:45 minutes). For this you will need a mat and, if you have done any of Miranda’s newer Classical Stretch workouts (the ones that air on PBS), then there is an additional piece of equipment you can have handy. Sahra does mention using something under your hip but she does not use anything. It is a hemorrhoid pillow. Miranda uses this for side lying leg work because your hip fits right into the open circle of the pillow to keep your body aligned. I am currently working my way through Classical Stretch Season 12 so I bought one and Miranda is right–the pillow does keep your hips aligned. So I used my pillow for the side lying leg work. This majority of this section is very tough side lying lower body mat work. When you move to other leg, Sahra kept losing count. After 7:30 minutes of side lying lower body work, you sit up with yours legs extended straight in front of you for leg lifts that work your quads. The side lying leg work in this section is what really burned my legs out. It didn’t help that my dog decided that since I was on the floor she needed love. She kept licking my face and laying on the mat with me. So I fought for proper form while also giving her scritches.
The next section is stretching on the mat (Floor Stretch 7 minutes). You’re still sitting on the mat in the same position as when Floor Toning ended. For this section you do basic stretches but with a lot of shifting around in Essentrics fashion. This section felt wonderful–especially after the brutal Floor Toning. For some of the sitting exercises I sat on my large flat yoga block so my spine and hips were better aligned.
For the next section you are standing and using a chair for the entire segment (Barre Toning 15:30 minutes). The first part of this section is made up of more traditional lower body barre exercises–all varieties of leg lifts, wide and narrow plie variations. She also incorporates flowing upper body moves to engage the core. Next you move to the upper body doing tricep dips followed by shoulder and tricep stretches. This section ends with mobility/flexibility moves for the upper and lower body.
The next section also uses a chair (Barre Stretch 16 minutes). This is made up of Classical Stretch mobility/dynamic flexibility moves to “stretch” you out. Sahra starts with your ankles and feet and works her way up your body to hips, spine, chest and shoulders. Even though “stretch” is in the title, all of the moves are not feel good moves (but some are!). Some of the moves near the end of this section were uncomfortable and felt like there was even a strengthening element to them.
Power Full Body Tone (Standing & Barre Toning) 30 minutes
Thigh Thinning Workout (Standing, Floor Toning & Barre Toning) 40 minutes
Full Body, Hips & Back Stretch (Standing & Barre Stretch) 30 minutes
Hips, Back & Hamstring Stretch (Standing, Floor Stretch & Barre Stretch) 37 minutes
Full Body Barre Workout (all sections in the order described in review) 64 minutes
Note from Essentric’s website: Pre-mixed workouts 1 & 2 are for toning, strengthening, weight-loss, posture improvement, and help with osteoporosis prevention and reversal. Pre-mixed workouts 3 & 4 are for pain-relief, flexibility and healing.