Essentrics: Full Body Toning

Full Body Toning is another Eccentrics workout lead by Sahra Esmonde-White, daughter of Miranda Esmond-White (the creator of Classical Stretch/Essentrics). The website and description on the back of the DVD case say that this is one of the most popular Essentrics routines. It is often the first workout taught in a live class by newly certified Essentrics instructors. This workout is set on the upper floor of an enormous window-walled Essentrics studio in Montreal, Canada.

This workout has 3 choices on the main screen but the times listed are wrong. You can chose the full 60 minute workout (which is actually 56:30 minutes), the 30 minute standing portion of the workout (which is actually 33 minutes) or the 30 minute floor portion of the workout (which is actually 23 minutes).

I liked this workout a lot. This is the second workout I’ve done by Sahra (I bought 3 workouts led by her at the Essentrics’ sale earlier this year, so one more review is coming) and I really like her as a trainer. She is really excellent. Since the only other Sahra Eccentrics’ workout I’ve done is her Barre Workout, that is all I have to compare this workout to. This workout was easier than Barre. Barre had some pretty advanced (for me) sections. This workout is overall intermediate and a better introduction to Essentrics if the Essentrics style of exercise is new to you. However, there are some things about the Barre Workout I liked better. This workout does not contain any of the chair work that always seems to appear in Miranda’s Classical Stretch workouts and in the other Essentrics workouts I’ve done, including Barre Workout. The standing portion of this workout is all standing, no chair work, and it worked me very well but, as I said, was more intermediate level. The mat strength work was not as advanced or intense as the mat strength work in Barre. I have mixed feels about that. I like that it didn’t kill me the way Barre’s mat work did but at the same time, I now feel like my legs were not worked nearly as well. So it’s a give/take. The mat work ends with a long strength which was very nice but didn’t feel nearly as nice as the long mat stretch in the Barre Workout. But that could also have been because Sahra fried my legs beforehand in the Barre workout. Overall, I do like the way this workout is structured better when you do it as a 56:30 minute workout. I will actually do this one as the full hour workout whereas I will not do the full hour of the Barre Workout again–that was too much for me.

Like all of the other Classical Stretch/Essentrics workout there are so many details and nuances to every movement done that I am not going to break this down like I do other workouts. I am just going to give generic overview of what is happening in the course of the workout.

Full Body Toning is 56:30 minutes. The first 33 minutes of the workout is all standing. The workout starts with a warm up that is about 3 minutes. Sahra is lunging side to side while doing large flowing arm movements. Next you do alternating kick variations. The workout actually begins with Sahra doing dynamic flexibility/range of motion/mobility exercises that focus on the spine and upper body. Next you focus on the side body with side lunges and arm reaches, pushes and pulls. Then you focus on the lower body with wide plie squat variations. Hold wide plie squat and do arm work. Standing with legs wide, Sahra does strengthening exercises for your arms. Next Sahra does the Classical Stretch/Essentrics version of windmills (standing with legs wide, one arm extended behind you and the other in front of you; while in this position you pull shoulders back then reach back arm overhead while lowering front arm until arms have swapped position–of course hand positioning while doing this is important). Add deep lunges to the windmills. Next you lunge side to side with flowing arm movements. Return to windmills with deep lunges then back to lunging side to side with the flowing arm movements. Then she has you lunging deeply, while the upper body does reaching and pulling moves (mobility/flexibility for upper body/spine). Next Sahra does a series of upper body focused moves she calls airplanes in which you legs are wide and straight, you hinge forward at the hips and your straight arms stretch/reach in all directions (this works total body but also really stretches out your hamstrings). Next you do calf, achilles, quad and hamstring stretching. Add windmill arms to the stretch.

Floor work. (23 minutes) You need a fitness mat. Optional equipment is the hemorrhoid pillow for you hip that Miranda uses for side lying work and a large flat yoga block to sit on near the end of the floor stretching. Sahra does not use any of the optional equipment or mention the pillow (she does mention the yoga block) but Miranda introduced me to the pillow and it really works to align your hips so I use it for all side lying mat work now. The workout starts with side lying lower body mat work. Sahra hits every little muscle in your legs–some to burn out. She even adds some core work to one of the moves. Next you will lay on your back for abdominal work. Sit up with legs extended straight in front of you; in this position Sahra has you do quad strengthening exercises. Lay back on mat again for stretching. Sahra stretches out your hips, glutes, low back, groin, IT band and calf with dynamic flexibility exercises (you are always moving, even if it is small movements). Sit up again for more dynamic stretching starting with butterfly variations. More seated hip work. Next you will do seated forward fold variations that incorporate upper body mobility while legs are extended straight in front of you. Sitting cross-leg, Sahra works your neck muscles. The workout ends with spinal mobility using the arms to get deeper into the spine.

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