Classical Stretch Season 12: Aging Backwards

After checking out Classical Stretch Season 8 from the library and thoroughly enjoying it, I looked into actually buying a season to own. They are expensive. On the Essentrics website Season 12 is $65 (currently on sale for $52). It’s currently $56 on Amazon. Of course, you are getting 30 workouts. But still. It was out of my price range. Then Classical Stretch/Essentric’s website had a sale (an even better sale then the current one) and I caved and bought Season 12. Classical Stretch “seasons” are collections of Miranda Esmonde-White’s workouts that aired on PBS. Due to the fact these workouts are created as 30 minute TV programs that have commercials, each workout is actually approximately 23 minutes.

Just like Season 8, Season 12 is shot entirely outdoors in Jamaica. The scenery is always beautiful. Miranda’s workouts are very hard to break down. So I am not giving detailed breakdowns of these workouts. Each workout just gets a summary so you know what to expect. I don’t list the time because they are all approximately the same length–23 minutes, give or take 30-45 seconds. Because of the length of the workouts I used them as finishers. I generally do workouts that are longer than 35-40 minutes in the morning, so it took me a long time to get through this entire collection. Because it took me so long, the summaries will not be consistent. By that I mean, some days I felt like going into a bit more detail and other days I didn’t. You will still get the basic idea of what each workout contains, any equipment needed and my own thoughts about the workout.

Classical Stretch workouts all use the same basic movements–but there are a lot of them. Miranda based her technique on Tia Chi. She takes you through wide range of motion exercises that give you the benefits of mobility, strength and flexibility work. The titles of the individual workouts lead you to believe it is a workout that focuses on one aspect of the body but that is not how any of the workouts actually play out. Most of her workouts hit every muscle group in your body in some fashion–stretching it, strengthening it or just taking it through full range of motion. Her workouts are feel good workouts, too. Occasionally you will feel the burn from some of the exercises but for the most part Classical Stretch workouts just feel good. Even when there is a burn factor it never lasts long. She doesn’t burn you out like other trainers do. If I had to classify them, I would say they are bodyweight fusion workouts, but they are more than that. With that said, you are not getting 30 identical workouts. Miranda varies them so that each is different. Some are more gentle than others. Some are all standing and others use some basic equipment. Some are more focused on strength whereas others are more focused on dynamic flexibility. All of them incorporate mobility. None of them are advanced but some of them are more challenging than others. 

I am returning to Classical Stretch workouts for many reasons. First, I never should have stopped doing them. I really think workouts like these are important for a holistic approach to fitness. Most people tend to focus on the modality of fitness they enjoy the most, or that is giving them the aesthetic result they want. But true fitness is more than that. I am guilty of neglecting mobility and flexibility and putting more focus on strength and cardio. But I really want to incorporate more balance into my rotations. Second, I think they are what is missing in getting my left shoulder back to 100%. According to my ortho surgeon, all that’s left for me now is to regain the strength in all of the muscle groups in my shoulder–including the small ones. I’m doing a good job with the large muscle groups but I think it’s the small ones that are still causing me problems and Classical Stretch workouts will hopefully help me correct that imbalance.

As noted above, it took me a long time to get through all 30 workouts in this collection. So some of the early ones I may note my shoulder is still not 100%. Technically it still isn’t, but it is much better now than it was when I did Workout 1, and I did the workouts in order–I started with Workout 1 and ended with Workout 30 (which I did today). You do not need a lot of equipment for these workouts and some of the workouts use no equipment. The basic equipment you will definitely need is a chair and a fitness mat. Other optional equipment includes a flat yoga block, a dynaband and a hemorrhoids pillow. The hemorrhoids pillow is for hip alignment when doing side lying mat work and it is surprisingly effective! 

Workout 1: Plantar Fasciitis Release: No equipment needed. The focus of this workout is on your feet. Miranda says this is a slow and gentle workout; a healing workout. I agree with that but with my left shoulder still not 100%, that arm fatigued quickly with all of her flowing arm movements. I consider that a good thing btw. I need to strengthen those smaller muscle groups in my shoulder. I do not have plantar fasciitis but I do have 2 plates and 12 screws in each heel so I have so foot problems! This would be a great workout for me to do on those days (usually Sundays) when my feet are cramped in the morning. When I did this workout my feet were fine so I am not able to vouch for it’s effectiveness but Mirianda makes a pretty bold claim during this workout–that “many people” suffering from plantar fasciitis are pain free by the end of this workout. So after I sample all 30 of the workouts in this collection, I definitely plan to return to this one on a bad foot day. I will update this review at that time. The workout starts with lots of standing dynamic flexibility/range of motion moves. Though you are using your upper body a lot, the focus is on knee bending movements for the feet. Next you focus on the feet by raising heels and toes. Next she spends more time focusing on the calf muscles with lots of shifting forward and back in split stance then in wide plie squat. Throughout it all you are raising and lowering the heels. Put all of your weight on one leg, raise and lower the other while flexing and pointing. Next she moves on to working your fingers and arms. More total body dynamic stretching/range of motion moves. You return to working your feet again. The workout ends with more dynamic flexibility/range of motion moves.

Workout 2: Hip Pain Relief and Stretch. Equipment: a chair and optional theraband. I do not suffer from hip pain so I cannot confirm that it alleviates hip pain but I definitely felt it in my hips! Not a difficult workout, but Miranda takes your whole body through range of motion/flexibility exercises with a focus on your hips. The workout starts with a dynamic flexibility/range of motion warm up that focuses on the upper body then transitions into being total body. Next you focus on loosening up the hips. You do some gentle lunges. Next you do a hip exercise, legs wide, hinged forward at waist while lunging side to side. Get a chair. You will do hip range of motion exercise for the hips using the chair for balance. Next you do hip and leg stretches using the chair and a theraband if you need it. The workout ends with more stretches for the lower body using the chair but also incorporating range of motion upper body work.

Workout 3: Quad Strengthening. Equipment: fitness mat and optional flat yoga block and hemorrhoid pillow. This was a more strenuous workout than Workouts 1 &2–but not killer or anything. Still, I felt this one throughout my entire body. I did just finish an intense strength workout that hit my back and shoulders hard, so I really felt the range of motion/flexibility exercises that focused on those areas. I also had some quad burn out and some arm burn out. So you’re getting it all in this short workout–total body mobility, flexibility and strength. The workout starts warming you up with full body range of motion exercises with an emphasis on the upper body. Continue the range of motion exercises but the pace slows down and you are also stretching dynamically–the focus is on the shoulders though the entire body is involved. Next is a plie squat and lunge series. Miranda of course finds a way to add the upper body. Then you do a series of strengthening exercises that focuses on the upper body. Come down to the mat for floor core work. Next Miranda lays on her hip with the hemorrhoid pillow under her hip for leg lifts. Sit on your bottom with legs extended straight in front of you for quad strengthening exercises. Sit on yoga block for static total body stretching.

Workout 4: Weight Loss and Calorie Burn. No equipment needed but I had to grab a chair for balance on a few exercises. This was another thorough mobility/flexibility workout. I do have to comment on the title. According to my FitBit I burned 65 calories doing this workout. You will not burn a lot of calories doing it. But for me, that is never the point of a Classical Stretch workout. I burn calories elsewhere. But for my purposes–mobility/flexibility–this was a very nice, feel good workout. I did get a bit of a burn in my arms during the arm strengthening section. The workout starts with large range of motion exercises using primarily the upper body then it moves to warming up your feet and calves. Next you return to the upper body and the spine for dynamic flexibility. Next is total body flexibility/range of motion exercises. Then you focus on the lower body with wide plie squats with variations such as heel raises. Return to spinal and shoulder mobility exercises. Next you do barre style kick drills but you are balancing on one leg (I needed my chair for this). You move to the upper body, doing arm and hand strengthening exercises. Move back into total body mobility exercises. The workout ends focusing on strengthening your feet, ankles and calves through heel raise variations.

Workout 5: Back Pain Relief. Equipment: chair. I do not currently have back pain but if I did, I really do not believe this workout would help it. In fact, I think it would make it worse. But with that said, I found this to be a very nice mobility/dynamic flexility workout that may prevent back pain. With my back currently pain-free, this workout felt good. It starts with mobility exercises that focus on the spine and upper body. Next she has you some low impact/low intensity cardio moves (side steps, knee raises, etc). Return to range of motion/dynamic flexibility exercises that focus on spine, shoulder and upper body. Next you do dynamic stretching for the hip flexors, calves and hamstrings. Get your chair. Do various versions of barre squats using the chair for balance. Place your foot on chair seat for various dynamic lower body mobility/stretching. You continue the lower body mobility/flexibility exercises but she adds upper body to the mix. Using the chair, do mobility/flexibility for the spine.

Workout 6: Full Body Strengthening. Equipment: mat, hemorrhoid pillow and a large flat yoga block. This was a very good total body bodyweight strength and mobility workout. Miranda probably hits every muscle in the body very nicely. I also bought a hemorrhoid pillow specifically for these workouts and Miranda is right! It does align your hips perfectly for the mat exercises! If you like lower body mat work then get one. They are cheap. They come in different sizes so get a larger one since you are laying on your side with your hip in the hole. I plan to use mine for all of my mat work now. The workout starts with some pretty vigorous upper body work focusing on the fingers/hands. Next you move into your lower body doing low impact cardio moves. The tempo of the moves slow down and you do total body range of motion/strength/mobility exercises. Next is wide plie squat work. Then you return to the upper body and hands/fingers for more range of motion/strengthening exercises. Get your mat and pillow for floor work that works both your lower body and core with the same exercises. Sit on the flat yoga block for hip stretches.

Workout 7: Posture. Equipment: chair. This workout challenged me more than I expected it to. I was able to do everything, but I really felt many of the moves–in a good way. I did come to this workout with my body in pain. No injury pain, but soreness from working hard the day before. So that could have had something to do with it. But Miranda worked me well in this workout! She is really funny during this workout. One of the exercises is very effective but doesn’t feel good to perform. While doing it, she says several times “isn’t this horrible” in her cheerful way. It’s cute and funny. The workout starts with a warm up of tapping feet and swinging arms. Then you focus on upper body and spine range of motion/mobility exercises. The exercises continue but move into full body range of motion/mobility exercises with spine focus. Next the exercises focus on hip range of motion/mobility. The focus returns to the upper body with dynamic flexibility exercises focusing on the chest, back and arms. The dynamic flexibility/range of motion exercises continue but move into full body again. Get your chair. The focus begins on ankles, feet and calves by rocking from heels onto toes and doing barre squats. Next you use the chair for lower body stretches. Continue doing the lower body stretches but now you add upper body mobility/range of motion exercises. The work ends with total body flexibility still using the chair.

Workout 8: Long Adductor. Equipment: chair. This was a nice full body mobility/flexibility workout with a focus on the inner thigh. But as usual, Miranda still manages to hit most of your muscles and joints. She even has a short arm/hand segment that started making my arms burn. The workout starts warming up the lower body with stationary side lunges. Add sports themed range of motion upper body movements (frisbee, tennis, golf, baseball). Continue the lower body movement but the upper body range of motion moves become more flowing and strength focused, and the spine becomes more involved. Next you focus on the hands, fingers and arms with strengthening and mobility exercises. Move to the lower body, focusing on the hips and inner thighs with range of motion and flexibility exercises. Then the focus moves to the quads. Get your chair. Do barre squat variations using the chair for balance. Next you will do barre leg lift variations. Next you will use the chair for lower body flexibility and mobility exercises. Continue the lower body flexibility/mobility work but Miranda adds the upper body to involve the spine.

Workout 9: Back Pain Relief. Equipment: fitness mat, flat yoga block(s) and a pillow (Miranda has her hemorrhoid pillow). Miranda says she suffered from the “worst chronic back pain in the world” before she developed the Classical Stretch technique. Though I do believe Classical Stretch workouts are good for strengthening the spine, I do not believe this workout will give you relief if you are in pain. In fact, it will probably exacerbate it. But if you are not hurting then it is another excellent Classical Stretch workout. I was not in any pain and it felt very good. If you do Miranda’s back pain workouts (this one and her DVD Back Pain Relief & Prevention), then you will go a long way to preventing future back pain. The workout starts warming you up with faster paced range of motion/dynamic flexibility moves primarily working the upper body and spine (lots of wide/large arm movements). The moves change to lunging side to side while flicking fingers. Next you move into slower mobility moves that focus on the spine and shoulders. Next you do wide plie squat variations. Add upper body range of motion moves. Next you focus on arm strengthening moves. Get your fitness mat, flat yoga block(s) and pillow for floor stretches. Miranda sits on 2 yoga blocks. I only own one so that is all I sat on. Do seated dynamic flexibility/mobility moves for the spine. Lay on back with pillow under head/neck. Do dynamic flexibility/mobility moves with legs to work the spine, glutes, hips and legs (this is a long segment). The workout ends sitting up again on yoga block for some neck stretches.

Workout #10: Endurance and Power. Equipment: fitness mat, hemorrhoid pillow and large flat yoga block. This was a feel good workout. I felt like Miranda managed to lightly work your entire body. Nothing strenuous or difficult, but you get mobility, flexibility and some strength in this workout and she manages to hit nearly every muscle and joint in your body. The workout starts warming you up by shifting side to side, swinging your arms and shaking your hands/fingers as if flinging water off your hands, side steps, foot taps, kicks and exercises to warm the feet. Next you move into spine and upper body mobility exercises; you are lunging side to side and also doing some wide plie squats but the focus is the upper body and spine. Then you focus on the lower body with plie squat variations. She adds spinal mobility/flexibility to the plie squat variations. The focus returns to the upper body with finger and arm exercises. Get your mat and pillow for floor work. Do side lying leg work with pillow under hip. Next Miranda lays on her back for core work with the pillow under her head–you do crunch variations. Sit on the flat yoga block for more spinal mobility/flexibility work.

Workout #11: Finger Arthritis. No equipment used in this workout. This felt like a fairly gentle workout. Miranda, as usual, managed to work your entire body through mobility, flexibility and even some strength work but nothing challenging or difficult. Another feel good workout. This workout starts with toe tap variations, plie squat stretches and front kicks. Next is spinal mobility work with your arms flowing to assist. Next you move to lower body work by contracting then relaxing your legs while doing narrow then wide plie squat variations. Next Miranda moves into full body flexibility/mobility exercises followed by clockwork kick/leg lifts (kicking in all directions). At this point (15 minutes into the workout) you finally move into the finger workout. Miranda has you making fists the stretching your fingers wide then doing more finger stretching and wrist work. The entire time your arms are extended out straight to sides. Lunge side to side with various arm reaches. Next she has you do spine work with body rounded forward, swaying side to side with arms moving gently to assist in stretching the spine and the shoulders.

Workout #12: Hamstring Flexibility. Equipment: chair. This was a nice workout. In some places it gave me some nice mobility and in other places it made me perspire a bit and gave my muscles a little burn. As with all of her workouts, even though there is a focus on the hamstrings, the entire body is worked or stretched at some point. Miranda starts the workout warming you up with big arm swings and circles that involve the entire body. Next it changes to range of motion exercises for the spine and shoulders. Then it becomes full body mobility/flexibility/strength work. Next you do dynamic flexibility/mobility work for the lower body. Then Miranda returns to the upper body for more mobility/strength work for the spine and upper back. Continue the spine and upper body work but now the hamstrings are involved with forward folds. Get the chair for some mobility/flexibility work. You start with some dynamic flexibility/mobility work for the legs and hips (hip cleaner variations). Next you place your foot on the chair seat for dynamic stretches of the legs and hips. Add upper body arm movements to work the spine and core. The workout ends with more hamstring, hip flexors and quad stretches standing behind the chair, holding the chair back for support.

Workout #13: Toning the Waist. Equipment: a fitness mat, hemorrhoid pillow and optional large flat yoga block. This workout is done primarily on the floor though the first 5 minutes is done standing. The “waist toning” is not traditional core work as you would expect (though there is some of that). Miranda still works your entire body but she does a lot of dynamic stretching of the side body and spine, she does core strength work, lower body strengthening (mat) work and dynamic flexibility for the lower body. Though not an aggressive workout, it is more intense than some of the others in this collection. Miranda starts the workout warming you up by swinging your arms side to side then circling them. Then she does some exercises to warm up your feet. Next Miranda has you round spine, hinging forward then round spine up, reaching arms overhead, stretching arms and core while lunging side to side. This transitions into flowing arm reaches and pulls while continuing the deep side to side lunges. Get your mat, pillow and yoga block for floor work. Sit on the mat with bent legs extended in front of you and do dynamic stretches for your spine, hips and waist. Lay on side with hip on hemorrhoid pillow. Raise and lower both legs at the same time while also raising torso. Next do leg lift variations. Lay on back for core work (place yoga block under head if needed). Do basic crunch variations. Sit up for butterfly stretch variations. (You can also sit on your yoga block for better alignment if needed.) The workout ends with seated spinal and lower body stretches.

Workout #14: Spine Strength. No equipment needed for this workout but there are some balance moves so if you are balance challenged have a chair nearby. This is an all standing mobility/flexibility/strength workout. Nothing advanced or challenging but I felt it through my spine and side body. It felt very good. Miranda starts the workout warming you up by swinging your arms side to side then circling them. Then she does some exercises to warm up your feet. Next she has you tucking your tailbone, rounding your spine and swaying your arms side to side. Circle torso around with arms extended overhead. Reach and stretch arms to side while side lunging deeply. Wide plie squats while stretching arms overhead. Round spine while tucking tailbone then arch spine. Shift hips side to side. Add arm reaches to these spine/tailbone movements. Straight leg lift variations (balance move). Next Miranda moves to your hands, arms are extended out to side while you work your fingers and wrists. Next you start working your arms. Then you move to more full body mobility work that still focuses on the spine. Miranda next does feet exercises, having you raising and lowering heels in different stances. The workout ends with Achilles stretch into a side reaching stretch.

Workout #15: Shoulder Pain Relief. Equipment: chair. Another nice mobility, flexibility and strength workout. The workout starts with gentle but thorough mobility/flexibility work for the shoulders. The second half of the workout is strength and flexibility for the lower body. The workout starts with gentle shoulder rolls. Next you sway arms side to side then in slow gentle circles. Your arm movements become more mobility/range motion focused with large circles and reaching further. Miranda adds spinal twists to the slow arm movements. Extend arms to side while working the hands, fingers and wrists. Changes to shoulder work using the arms to to push and pull and circle the shoulders. Get your chair. Holding onto the chair do barre inspired leg raises, circles and heel raises. Next Miranda does dynamic stretches for the lower body using the chair. She adds upper body arm reaches to involve the spine in the stretches. The workout ends with forward fold variations with hands on the chair back to stretch the entire body–including the shoulders.

Workout #16: Relieve Neck Pain. Equipment: mat. These last few workouts really speak to me! Spine, shoulders and neck–all places I have pain. My neck is always achey–some days worse than others. Though this workout did have a nice neck and shoulder focus, my neck did not feel any better after doing this workout. But that’s okay because I am sure this is one of those workouts that you have to do frequently to get results. The focus of this workout was neck, shoulders and at the end, hips. Miranda warms you up with toe taps and arm swings, twisting spine/torso to sides to warm the spine when swinging arms. Toe taps change to cross body knee lifts. Next you roll your shoulders, first smaller ranges of motion then larger ranges of motion that involves the entire body. The moves transition into more mobility work for the spine and upper body, flowing arms side to side. Return to large shoulder circles, using the arms and rounding the spine. Extend arms to sides and stretch fingers wide, close and open fingers wide. Next work the wrists and the arms. Get your mat for floor work. Sit on mat with legs extended straight in front of you and do foot exercises. Butterfly stretch variations. Sit with knees bent and feet on floor, hands on thighs, round and straighten spine. Seated side bends. Spine circles with arms extended overhead. With legs in seated pretzel, hold back foot with same side hand, lift that leg and move it back and forth; pull foot into bottom to stretch quads; extend leg straight behind you on floor and shift hip around. Sit cross-leg and do neck stretches.

Workout #17: Full Body Toning. No equipment needed. This was a very nice total body mobility/flexibility/strengthening workout. I never do these 22/23 minute workouts in isolation. I had just finished another mobility/flexibility workout by another trainer, and this continued to work my body through all ranges of motion very nicely. I have to make a comment on some of the absurd things Miranda says. She suggested measuring yourself before this TWENTY TWO minute workout because you will be smaller afterward. Really? I love Miranda’s workouts but she must think her viewers are so ignorant. No 22 minute workout will give you results like that. Maybe if you did it every day for a month while also cleaning up your diet but not after one workout! The workout starts with Miranda stepping side to side while reaching arms forward and back to work the spine. This changes to front and cross kicks. Swing arms in wide circles with wide plie squats. Tuck pelvis and round spine and shoulders, shifting torso around, rolling shoulders and reaching arms. Next you move into full body mobility stretching and strengthening exercises. Next you do front kick variations with toe taps in front of you (kick-tap); changes to kick/lifts to side then to back. Next do some Achilles and calf stretches and move up to stretching the muscles of the quads and hip flexors. Return to more (but different) full body mobility stretching and strengthening exercises. Next you move into some lower body mobility and stretching exercises that also incorporate balance to work your core. Next the focus moves to arm strengthening exercises. Return to the lower body by shifting hips side to side then circling the hips; round and arch the spine; add upper body mobility moves to the spine movements. Next Miranda does her 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). The workout ends with more (but different) full body mobility stretching and strengthening exercises.

Workout #18: Psoas & Hip Stretch. Equipment: chair. This was a nice, feel good workout. As usual, Miranda manages to hit every muscle group in your body. It is primarily mobility/range of motion/flexibility work, but there is a bit of strengthening worked in, too. You start with sports related arm movements to warm up: tennis, softball throws, Frisbee throws. Round spine and tuck hips as you hinge forward, head and arms hanging down loosely. Dynamic stretching of the upper body. Miranda’s windmills with deep lunges. Transitions to full body mobility/dynamic stretching. Next Miranda works your fingers and wrists with arms extended out straight to sides. Then you transition into arm work. Single leg squats (balancing on one leg, other raised in front of you); changes to drawing a figure 8 with raised leg. Lunge side to side to stretch legs. Get your chair. Barre squat variations (spine straight, raised onto toes). Calf and Achilles stretches. Side leg lift variations. Next is dynamic stretching and mobility work for the lower body using the chair. Hinge forward with hands on chair back and legs wide, shifting side to side to stretch lower and upper body. Stand closer to the chair, still holding chair back, and round spine, shifting torso/hips around.

Workout #19: Waist Slenderizing. No equipment needed. This was a total body workout. Miranda gives you strength, mobility and flexibility–and all done standing. She hits everything in this workout. You do get some focused standing core work but it doubles as mobility for your spine, too. Very nice workout. Miranda warms you up with side to side steps, plie squats, toe taps, knee lifts, hamstring curls. Next she does large arm circles that use the entire body. Roll body up and down, raising arms overhead then total body mobility/flexibility moves. Next she has you tightening/contracting your thigh muscles with your legs in various positions to work the thighs and glutes. While in plie squat, do reach and pull mobility stretches to work the waist. Miranda moves to the lower body with kicks/lifts in all directions. Next you work your hands and fingers with arms extended out straight to sides; add working the arms while still working hands/fingers. Next Miranda returns to the lower body for foot/calf/Achilles stretches. These transition into total body mobility stretches.

Workout #20: For Balance & Feet. Equipment: chair. This workout is a bit longer than the others in this season, which I found a little odd. It is a full minute longer. The first part of this workout was more strength focused and I felt like I was working harder than I usually do in Miranda’s Season 12 workouts. But at about halfway through it became more relaxing–dynamic stretching and mobility work. As usual, she hits everything in this workout but there is segment that focuses on the feet and toes. Miranda warms you up with side to side steps with various arm movements. The first series of exercises all focus on arm strength. Then swing the arms around the body to work the spine. Side lunge side to side with sweeping arm movements. Continue shifting side to side but the arm movements become broader and more focused mobility work so you are working your entire body (spine, core, upper body and legs). Next you work your calves and feet; add windmill arms. Get your chair. You will do more foot and toe exercises while holding onto the chair for balance. Next you will do mobility/flexibility exercises for the legs and hips with one foot on the chair. Continue the lower body/hip mobility/flexibility exercises but add dynamic upper body stretches to deepen the stretches. Next you will use the chair to stretch your spine. The workout ends with neck stretches.

Workout #21: Connective Tissue. Equipment: chair. This workout had some deep dynamic stretching and mobility work. I felt it deeper in my joints and spine than I usually do. I suppose that is why Miranda titled this one Connective Tissue–because she was working deeper into the muscle and joints and ligaments and fascia. All I know is I felt it. Some moves were a bit uncomfortable, but doing their job. There is also some strength work for the lower body. Though it is not used immediately, the workout starts with the chair behind Miranda. She is standing in front of the chair, swinging and circling her arms. This changes to figure 8 motions with the arm to work the shoulder then returns to swinging the arms in large arm circles. With arms extended overhead, circle upper torso/arms. Next you do large range of motion/dynamic flexibility moves with the arms to work the shoulders and spine. Stand beside chair, holding chair back for balance for some lower body barre work–leg lifts, heel raise variations. Stand in front of the chair (not using chair any more) and do wide plie squats with various arm stretches and spinal twists. Stand behind the chair again and do lower body and foot stretches with hands on chair back. Next you do more barre work holding onto the chair back–various leg lift variations (to the side, to the back, on a diagonal). Next you do full body stretches, still holding onto chair back for stability.

Workout #22: Hip & Glute Flexibility. Equipment: fitness mat, hemorrhoid pillow and theraband. This was a feel good workout. Lots of flexibility and mobility in this workout. A little bit of strength but not much. Miranda says you can do this workout every day and even combine it with other workouts. The workout begins with a warm up of stepping side to side, forward and back, plie squat taps. Add large figure 8 motions with the arms and flowing frisbee throw arm movements to work the shoulder and spine. Next is large range of motion/dynamic flexibility exercises to work upper body/spine. Wide plie squat variations that include heel lifts, pivoting into a lunge and leg lifts. With arms extended, work your fingers and arms. Continue the arm exercises but add lunges. Sit on mat and do butterfly stretch variations. Lay on back using pillow to cushion your head and do dynamic lower body mobility stretches. Continue the lower body mobility/flexibility exercises but use the theraband to stretch deeper. Sit up with legs extended straight in front of you and dynamic seated forward fold stretch variations.

Workout #23: Stretch Your Spine. No equipment. This is a very spine focused workout. As usual, Miranda does manage to incorporate your entire body into this workout, but the focus is definitely spine mobility and strength. This workout starts with Miranda shifting side to side while swinging her arms side to side while also rounding and stretching the spine. Shift side to side lunge while flicking the fingers. Step touches with arm reaches. Spinal/core stretch variations with arms reaching overhead and circling and reaching to the sides with stationary side lunges. Balance on one leg while raising and lowering the other leg to the front, the side and behind you with different foot positions. Wide plie squat variations. Next do standing dynamic stretches for the calves and Achilles. Then you do more mobility/flexibility exercise for the spine and arms. Next you do Miranda’s windmills while lunging. More leg exercises while balancing on the other leg–bicycles. Next is standing arm, shoulders and wrist exercises. The workout ends with more spine exercises that also work the upper body.

Workout # 24: Upper Body Pain Relief. Equipment: fitness mat, hemorrhoid pillow and optional large flat yoga block. Another total body mobility/flexibility feel good workout. The workout starts with a gentle warm up swinging arms forward and back in opposition with alternating front toe taps. Then you do some knee raises; add pulling arms down from overhead when raising knee. Next is double arm swings forward and back. After the warm up, you round your spine with your head and arms hanging down in front of you while swaying back and forth. This changes to shoulder and arm circles (spine is no longer rounded). Miranda next does upper body strength and mobility work that incorporates the lower body by lunging side to side. The strength and mobility work continues but Miranda incorporates spinal mobility/flexibility. Get your mat, pillow and yoga block. Sit on flat yoga bock for butterfly groin stretch variations that include shoulder stretches. Still seated on yoga block, legs extended in front of you, knees bent, do more spine and upper body mobility stretches. Lay on back, head supported on pillow, and do lower body mobility stretches. Sit up with one leg extended straight and other bent, for lower body, side body and spine stretches. Hip and spine stretches with legs crossed. Sit on flat yoga block again with legs extended straight in front of you, in this position Miranda performs mobility/strength work for your feet and toes. This changes to flowing in and out of forward fold variations.

Workout #25: Improve Your Balance. No equipment, but since this is balance focused, if you are seriously balance challenged (like me), you might want a chair handy anyway. This is an all standing workout. There is a lot of mobility and dynamic flexibility in this one. The spine and shoulders get a lot of nice work. Miranda starts warming you up by shifting side to side; add large figure 8 movements with your arms, reaching from the floor to ceiling then smaller figure 8s that focus on the shoulder joint. Next you round your spine and tailbone while shifting body side to side; add slow flowing arm reaches. Continue the flowing arm movements while pivoting into side to side lunges and twisting spine while in lunge. Continue the flowing arm reaches but add side bends and plie squats. Next is some balance moves–leg lifts that work the feet when on the floor then you raise them to the front and to the side; add heel lifts. Next is wide plie squat variations that include upper body and spine work. Next is more balance work–while balancing on one leg, trace the letters of the alphabet with the other leg. Still balancing on one leg, lift and pulse the other leg behind you; changes to arcing leg front to side then side to back. Shift side to side in side lunge to stretch inner thigh. Next is full body mobility/strength exercises. the workout ends with some dynamic stretches for the lower body.

Workout #26: Stomach Flattening. Equipment: fitness mat, hemorrhoid pillow, dynaband and optional large flat yoga block. This was another feel good workout. Though the title indicates a lot of core work, I found it more lower body focused–legs and the feet. She does do some core work and there is also total body mobility/flexibility work. Miranda starts the workout warming up your feet. The warm up continues with the legs lunging side to side while the arms swing and circle. Next Miranda rounds the spine down then arches spine up while also doing mobility work with the arms. This changes into full body flowing mobility/strength moves. Get your equipment. Sit on the mat, wrap dynaband around foot to dynamically stretch and strengthen legs, feet and toes. Lay on side with hemorrhoid pillow under the hip, legs are extended straight with legs kept together, raise and lower both legs in this position; add lifting upper boy while lifting legs. Remain on side on pillow and do more leg lift variations. Sit on flat yoga block with bent legs in front of you, hands behind thighs, round and arch back in this position. Extend legs straight and do leg raises. Dynamic butterfly stretches. Dynamic forward fold variations. The workout ends with seated spinal and side bends.

Workout #27: Shoulder Strengthening. No equipment. This is an all standing workout. There is a lot of shoulder work but Miranda also hits everything–even toes and fingers. This workout felt more mobility/dynamic flexibility focused to me. Though there is also some definite shoulder strengthening. Miranda starts warming you up by shift lunging side to side while flinging arms/hands down like you are flicking water off your hands (fling/swing hands low, high, to the sides). This changes to hamstring curls with pull back arms. Inhale/exhale slowly while rounding spine down and up. Stretch spine by reaching arms overhead, to the side while side bending and in front of you while rounding spine. Next do upper body/spine mobility/strength reaches and twists. Next Miranda moves to the feet for some foot and ankle mobility/flexibility exercises (you balance on one foot while doing some of the exercises). Raise and lower heels slowly. Shoulder mobility exercises. Balance on one leg and do bicycle maneuver with other leg. Next extend your arms to sides and work your fingers and arms. Your arm movements become larger so you are working your shoulders. Next you shift your hips side to side and in circles. The workout ends with more full body mobility/flexibility exercises.

Workout #28: Full Leg Toning. Equipment: fitness mat, hemorrhoid pillow, and optional large flat yoga block. This is an excellent full body workout. This one is more strenuous than many of Miranda’s others but nothing advanced or killer. The focus is on the legs but Miranda works your arms, spine, hands and core, too. You also get dynamic flexibility and mobility, of course, but the focus of this workout is definitely strengthening. Just like in Workout #27, Miranda starts warming you up by shift lunging side to side while flinging arms/hands down like you are flicking water off your hands (fling hands low and high). Step side to side then do fast little kicks; this changes to hamstring curls. Inhale/exhale slowly while rounding spine down and up. Next is full body mobility/flexibility/strength exercises. Wide plie squat variations that work the spine and the upper body as well as the legs. Next extend your arms to sides and work your fingers and arms; this turns into more focused arm exercises. Get your equipment for floor work. Lay on side with hemorrhoid pillow under the hip and do leg lift variations. Lay on back with head resting on flat yoga block for combination core and lower body exercises. Sit on flat yoga block with bent legs in front of you, hands behind thighs, round and arch back in this position. Extend legs straight for dynamic forward fold variations. 

Workout #29: Body Shaping. No equipment. As the title indicates, this workout focuses on strength but, of course, you get a lot of mobility work as well. It is done all standing. Miranda works your entire body but the focus, IMHO, is the upper body and spine. During the arm section, I was starting to feel the burn and wanted to lower my arms, but then the segment ended, just in time! Miranda starts warming you up by shifting side to side while swinging your arms side to side and circling them. Extend arms overhead and circle arms and torso to work your core and spine; add lunges while doing side bend reaches. Next you do Miranda’s version of windmills. Wide plie squats while extending arms overhead. Round and arch spine. Changes to spinal twists with arm reaches. Shift hips side to side. Dynamic side lunge stretches. Balance on one leg while kick-lifting leg in a half circle front to back; leg lifts change to leg circles. Next you work your hands, wrists and arms. Next you do total body flexibility/mobility work. The workout ends with dynamic stretches for your legs and feet.

Workout #30: Quad Flexibility. Equipment: fitness mat, hemorrhoid pillow, theraband and optional large flat yoga block. This is a great workout to do after an intense leg workout–which is what I did! I had just fried my legs and finished it off with this workout. It is total body. The first part is standing and Miranda takes you through mobility/strengthening work for your upper body and spine but then when you move to the floor, the main focus is lower body flexibility–which felt really good after the workout I had just finished. Miranda starts warming you up with step taps that quickly turn into front kicks; changes to cross body knee raises while raising arms overhead and bringing them down to knee and hip when knee raises; changes to hamstring curls. Hinge/hang forward with spine rounded and arms hanging downward, slowly swaying side to side, and slowly rising higher as you sway until you are upright again. Next you do full body flexibility/mobility/strength work. Then you work your fingers, hands and wrists with arms extended out straight to sides. Get your equipment for floor work. Sit on the flat yoga block with legs in front of you and do various foot/toe stretches with the theraband. Lay on back with pillow under head and do dynamic stretching for the lower body. Next is dynamic butterfly, pretzel and pigeon stretch variations.

14 thoughts on “Classical Stretch Season 12: Aging Backwards

  1. “I am returning to Classical Stretch workouts for many reasons. First, I never should have stopped doing them. I really think workouts like these are important for a holistic approach to fitness. Most people tend to focus on the modality of fitness they enjoy the most, or that is giving them the aesthetic result they want. But true fitness is more than that. I am guilty of neglecting mobility and flexibility and putting more focus on strength and cardio. But I really want to incorporate more balance into my rotations…..”

    AMEN! Once I’m back to “normal” and can really exercise again, I’m most definitely changing how I exercise. I don’t even know if I’m going to do anymore Jillian. That’s TBD. I need to be more balanced with what I do and not just keep pushing myself to reach some “ideal” body image. I need to make my workout time be fun. I’ve already made a small pile of DVDs that I don’t ever plan to do again (I have a couple of Ilaria’s bodyweight push-up/core programs) because they just aren’t fun and I just don’t want to be pushed. I suppose I’ll end up donating them.

    Later, I’m going to go back and read your detailed descriptions for each of the 30 workouts, but they sound absolutely luxurious and good-for-your-body. I wish my library system had some Classical Stretch or Essentrics workouts I could borrow. I can definitely buy a DVD or two but the entire seasons are just too pricey for me even though it’s a good value for all you get. I suppose I should subscribe to their newsletter so I can be notified of forthcoming sales.

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    1. I am always having to tell myself the same thing. I used to be more concerned with being able to do the most advanced version of everything I did. But really, who cares? I am not an elite athlete nor do I care to become one. And part of me wonders–did I tear my rotator cuff my trying to hard to do crazy advanced things? So now, I try to focus on doing what I enjoy while also making sure I am challenging myself to be strong, flexible and mobile. And safe! No more stupid injuries.

      I also have a pile of workouts that I really do not know if I will ever try. I have slowed down on what I buy, but now I am streaming from 4 different places, plus YouTube. So I guess I have found other ways to spend money on workouts! I will still continue to support my favorite trainers since I always return to their workouts.

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      1. Exactly, I just don’t care to push myself anymore. My fitness level or what I can handle doing doesn’t matter to anyone but myself and, ultimately, it doesn’t really matter. I want to just have fun and feel good when I exercise in the future. And also be safe like you said. I haven’t exercised in nearly 3 months so I’ve lost some toning and definition but, much to my surprise, I really don’t care. I’m not going to work hard to get it back once I’m cleared to fully exercise.

        I had also slowed down on DVD purchases (there was a time when I scooped up some Daily Deals from the TFDVD site because some of the DVDs had been on my list so that really cool, that was probably back in spring, they are still shrink-wrapped) but I’m sure I’ll be acquiring a small number of DVDs soon to help me rehab and then to continue doing once I’m better. Essentrics, Classical Stretch, and Jessica Smith come to mind.

        And speaking of Jessica, why is her Walk On: 21 Day program (2 DVDs, 4 workouts, 2 hours total) so pricey? It’s $29.98 on Amazon. Considering that her other DVDs with the $14.98 price tag have 2 or 3 workouts or have multiple 15-minute mile segments on them, $29.98 seems quite high for just 4 workouts.

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      2. I don’t really know, other than the fact that 21 Day Program is a program. I have bought most of Jessica’s workouts on Amazon. When I buy a program, I frequently get an email that includes a link to a PDF booklet about the program plus a 20% off coupon for one of her other programs. But I’ve bought almost everything she has created so I can’t remember if it happened with 21 Day Program but it probably did. I am pretty sure it happened with all of her programs.

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      3. P.S. And speaking of Jessica again, long story short, was looking at my wishlist on Amazon and noticed that a particular Jessica yoga DVD (sorry I forget the title and I’m already logged out) is not available to be purchased anymore as brand-spanking new from her In Wellness Systems company. It wasn’t like that a few days ago. That particular yoga DVD was not one that I really wanted so I’m not super sad face about it. However, there is one that I really want.

        Anyway, I’m trying to get the point…. In your experience, since you have so many of Jessica’s DVDs, have you found that her DVDs on Amazon do get re-stocked? Or once a title is gone, it’s gone forever? I’m sure she replenishes brand-new releases (her two new DVDs are currently unavailable for purchase but I’m confident that Jessica has shipped Amazon another big pile of them) but what about older ones?

        Jessica is one of the few fitness instructors/personal trainers that makes DVDs and I am so grateful for that but I don’t want to miss out on something I really want.

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      4. This has happened to me, too. In fact, her 3 DVD Walk On Superset was on my wishlist for a decent price but I was waiting for it go cheaper used. Then it sold out! And for a long time. I was so upset because I wanted it so badly. I ended up finding it elsewhere used then a month or so later, it was back in stock. This has happened with several of her workouts. They also became available again eventually. So now I know just to keep checking my wishlist–and not panic shop! Not counting her two new workouts, I only have one Jessica workout still on my wishlist. I think I will finally buy it with any Amazon gift cards I get for Christmas/birthday.

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      5. “I also have a pile of workouts that I really do not know if I will ever try. “

        Just curious. Who’s in that pile? Mine includes 2 by Ilaria, a Mike Donavanik one, Cassey Ho Pop Pilates for Abs, among others.

        Well it’s good to know Jessica’s workouts eventually come back in stock but it’s still got me worried a bit. I’ll try not to “panic buy” as I’m not quite ready to purchase it or others yet. I’ve only made it the first two minutes into mile 1 of 4MPW so I’ve got plenty to keep me busy for now.

        Is the one Jessica workout you are missing/wanting the barre one?

        Also, Have you bought your Classical Stretch and Essentrics DVDs directly from them and also Amazon? I’m just wondering if on Amazon the prices ever go lower. Most of the Essentrics DVDs with Sahra have a list price of $26.95 (yikes!) but seemingly all are on sale on Amazon for either $18.95 or $21.95. Thankfully the one I want is $18.95 but that just seems a little high; I’m just used to being spoiled by lower prices on the TFDVD site, esp when the shop has sales. Do the prices on Amazon ever go lower than that? At this time, I don’t think I’d buy directly from Essentrics (I did sign up for their newsletter) because I assume with their DVD sales you’d have to buy a lot to get free shipping (if it was offered), I’d likely just want to buy 1 or 2 DVDs.

        (I also wonder if CS/E replenishes stock on Amazon when things sell out, I noticed that Amazon has less offerings (at least when it comes to Essentrics) than what Miranda’s/Sahra’s shop has.

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      6. Yes, the Jessica workout I still don’t own is her Barre Fitness workout. I will probably get it in January when I get her other 2 new workouts. I have bought some Classical Stretch and Essentrics workouts from Amazon but only used ones. I only bought them new once from the Classical Stretch website and that was during a big sale earlier this year.

        As for my To Do pile? It is truly enormous and I do not know now if I will ever do them all. I know I will do some of them eventually, but there are too many and I have so many favorites that I have done that I want and need to return to more frequently. But as for what is on the pile–at least 20 (or more) Barlates collections, 10 (or more) Tae Bo workouts, several yoga workouts, 5 Barre 3 workouts, a bunch of BOSU workouts, some programs (RIPT90 Fit, DeltaFit Speed Shred, P90X3, JNL Fusion, Skogg Kettlebells, UCF Fit, Rush Fit, 2 Dream Body collections), 5 (or more) Mindy Mylrea workouts, a Jari Love workout, some Tracey Mallet workouts, some of KCM’s older (pre-30 Minutes to Fitness) workouts, plus a bunch of random workouts from trainers I have never heard of but the workout looked interesting–those are all used, purchased at the yearly library sale or from Amazon.

        So ALOT!

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      7. As for me, the ones I plan to never ever do again is because I just feel they aren’t safe for me and/or push me too hard and there’s no fun factor (the Ilaria’s, Mike Donavanik, the others I mentioned, etc….) I truly think I could let them go without regrets and without wanting to reacquire any of them.

        My to-do pile is different and contains workouts that are still shrink-wrapped that I look forward to doing at some point. Like you, I have a few Barre3 workouts but I got mine as as Daily Deals from TFDVD (they are still shrink-wrapped) and I think you told me you got yours last year at a Black Friday sale and paid 99 cents or $1.99 each. Two of mine are led by Sadie, the other by Candace.

        I need to re-visit Barlates and see if I can make my mind up if the Lazy or Gentle collection would be a good fit for me in the near future. I still find the sheer volume of what she puts out overwhelming but she has a great personality and I like that her cat Minnie is in some of her videos. At times, I way over-think things before making purchases.

        Have you thought of trying to make a rotation for January using a lot of the workouts you haven’t done yet? The timing would be good, new year, new workouts. And Jessica’s new workouts would fit into that rotation nicely too. Although, at least name wise, some of those undone workouts sound a bit intense and you wouldn’t want to tweak your shoulder or anything else — RIPT90 Fit, Delta Fit Speed Shred, P90X3, JNL Fusion.

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      8. I think about doing that but I have other things I want to do. I want to focus on Cathe’s heavy strength workouts and rebounding. I am getting stronger bungees for Christmas which I am excited about–with stronger bungees you can jump faster. I already have January mapped out and it is primarily Cathe strength work and rebounding for cardio. Though the pile of untried workouts does call to me, so does the desire to do what I want to do. I do plan to do more Heather Robertson and Naomi Joy workouts.

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      9. P.S. You may already know this but I stumbled upon two full-length Essentrics workouts on youtube in case you are interested……

        30 minute Connective Tissue with Miranda
        “https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FbWgGgRLp94”

        30 Minute Full Body Pain Relief with Sahra
        “https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qnaxj4ejDdM”

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      10. Thanks–I didn’t know that. I don’t know if I will do them though. I already have more than enough Classical Stretch workouts on DVD to keep me busy.

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