No (Downward) Dogs Allowed!
I’ll admit, I went into this review of Total Stretch for Beginners with some preconceived notions. The DVD blurb said something about being for people who find yoga too difficult, boring or uncomfortable. I took this to mean that it was going to be a yoga DVD, but without using the “Y” word. Frankly, I expected it to be yoga for people who worry that practicing yoga postures will somehow change their belief system and make them heathens.
However, I was quite pleased to be proven wrong. While there are some stretches on the DVD that are similar to yoga poses, this was not just rebranded yoga.
Instructor Tamilee Webb takes us through one 30-minute workout; and three 10-minute workouts covering standing, sitting, and floor stretching, respectively.
There is not a downward dog anywhere on the DVD. I had not noticed before how many yoga poses require you to support a lot of your body weight on your arms, but it was a refreshing change not to have to do that in these workouts. The focus here is solely on stretching, not the combo of stretching and strength that is usually found in yoga.
The intent of the three 10-minute workouts is that each one is a total body stretching workout, and you can choose the one that is best for you and your current situation (e.g. the sitting workout might be more appropriate for a break at work than the floor exercises would be).
Because each was intended to be a standalone workout, there is some repetition between the three short workouts. For example, you do the same tricep stretch in the standing and sitting workouts … it’s just that one is done while standing up and one is done while sitting down. Most longer workouts tend to be somewhat repetitive though, so I didn’t feel cheated when I did all three short workouts back-to-back and encountered the same stretch in different segments.
A lot of those same stretches were featured in the longer 30-minute workout too. The nice thing is that the longer workout was not just the three segments played one after the other. It was a totally different workout, complete with a short relaxation segment at the end.
Instructor Tamilee Webb was the sole exerciser in all four workouts on the DVD, but she did a great job describing modifications, so additional exercisers were not really needed.
One of my favorite parts of the whole DVD was during the short floor exercise workout, when she was explaining the different depths you could go to while doing a one-legged forward bend. She demonstrated the level where you touch your knees, then the level where you touch your toes. Then she explained that there was a level where you could touch your forehead to your knee, but that she couldn’t do that level. It was a small thing, but made me feel better about my own stretching limitations.
I don’t believe that this DVD is officially part of Webb’s “The Science of Fitness” series, but it was clearly done in the same style. She is a very no-nonsense “technical” instructor, explaining clearly and concisely how to do each stretch, without a bunch of perky cheerleading.
As she describes how to do each stretch, she makes sure to explain proper form and where you will feel the stretch if you’re doing it correctly. This was really helpful feedback for me – confirmation that I was on the right track with each move.
Plus, it was great to be able to get a hamstring stretch without having to support half my body weight on my arthritic elbows. This downward-dog-free workout is a winner in my book.