What the Heck is Essentrics®?
What the heck is Essentrics®?
E-what? No, not “eKcentric” (although I have been known to act in strange and unusual ways :)).
“Hey Lynne, you spelled it wrong. Isn’t it Eccentrics with 2 c’s?” Nope.
And no, it’s not kind of like Yoga. Nor is it kind of like Pilates. It’s Essentrics. Essentrics – the dynamic stretch and strengthen program. Essentrics – as in the muscle contraction “eccentric” but spelled with 2 s’s. Huh?!!!
It’s hard introducing people to a new training/fitness program when they have never heard of the title, let alone knowing the names of the various types of muscle contractions in the body. Essentrics means nothing to most people. I would like to change that.
Let’s start at the beginning.
Essentrics® is a fitness training program that was developed by Miranda Esmonde-White, a former ballerina with the National Ballet of Canada. After suffering from debilitating back pain and after searching for a training program that people would love and feel great doing, Miranda developed Classical Stretch (also known today as Essentrics). She combined her knowledge of the strengthening theories of ballet with the flowing movements of Tai Chi and the healing techniques of physiotherapy. The result is a program that not only healed Miranda but that has literally changed the lives of millions of people around the world.
Why the word Essentrics?
Miranda created a television program called Classical Stretch which started airing on PBS in 1999. This stretching program is still airing today and is increasingly popular. In the vein of rebranding Classical Stretch and appealing to a wider market, Essentrics was born. But why the word “Essentrics”? It’s essentially a play on words. Many of the benefits of Miranda’s fitness program come from the presence of and importance of eccentric training. An eccentric contraction is one where there is increased tension on a muscle as it lengthens. You are most likely familiar with the opposite – a concentric contraction. Think of a bicep curl. When you hold a dumbbell in your hand and lift it up towards your shoulder, this is a concentric contraction (the muscle shortens to contract bringing the forearm closer to centre). The opposite is an eccentric contraction – the muscle lengthens under load, moving it away from centre. In Essentrics we use our body as the “weight” and we adopt lengthened positions to stretch and strengthen.
In a nutshell, since many of the benefits of Miranda’s program come from elongated muscle positions – where the muscles are contracting and lengthening at the same time – they took the word “eccentric”, traded out the c’s for s’s and voilà! Essentrics was born. (Not to mention that eccentric training is essential :))
What happens in an Essentrics class?
Essentrics is an equipment-free, bodyweight workout where you are constantly moving. We do not hold any poses or positions. We are focused on lengthening and stretching the body but also strengthening it while in motion. Essentrics respects that the body moves in all directions therefore techniques used in a class work to enhance the natural movements of the body (rotation, front-to-back and side-to-side movements). Essentrics is about rebalancing the body therefore nothing is left untouched – all your joints and 650 muscles are challenged. We believe that you are only as flexible as your tightest muscle and as strong as your weakest muscle.
Classes vary in duration: generally 30-60 minutes long. Using a diverse music playlist, the group is led through a series of flowing movements that work every muscle and joint in the body. In a class you will do part of your workout standing, some on the floor and sometimes using a barre or chair.
Essentrics can be done as your stand-alone workouts. It is also a fabulous complement to any other training/sport that you might do (from Cross-Fit to hockey to ballroom dancing). Essentrics is effective for flexibility, mobility and strength, as well as injury prevention and recovery.
Essentrics is enjoyed by people of all ages, all fitness levels, all genders. Seniors love it. Professional athletes swear by it. Everyone in between benefits from it. Have a look here:
Not only is Essentrics a great workout, I really do think that it’s Essential (hummm – 2 s’s)! Move your body well. Move it the way it is designed to move.
Move well. Live well.
Esmonde-White, M. (2016). Forever Painless. Random House Canada.
Esmonde-White, M. (2014). Aging Backwards. Random House Canada.