Being a new mother means suffering through all sorts of aches and pains: lower back, shoulders, neck (from looking down adoringly at my son, of course), you name it. The natural answer to this should be, of course, yoga. And I have several postnatal yoga videos to work with, but so far, I’m still not really ready to take on a proper yoga workout. So I decided to give Annette Fletcher’s Perfect in Ten: Stretch a go.
I was particularly motivated by the fact that the video is split up into ten-minute segments. I don’t have enormous chunks of time to myself these days, so I wanted to start something I could do in bits if I happened to be interrupted. (And of course, I was.) The video is broken up into the following chunks:
1. Upper Body, Back and Hips
2. Hips and Legs
3. Sedentary Lifestyle Relief
4. Sports Stretch
5. Intense Stretch
Chapters 1 and 2 really flow into each other — do them back to back and you’ll have some decent stretching for your entire body. Chapter 3 stands well on its own, as it has you do stretches while sitting in a chair. This would be perfect as a quick ten-minute stretch to do at work.
Chapter 4 contains stretches targeted for particular sports, such as tennis, golf, and running. However, it’s not a full stretching program on its own, so you’re best off learning the stretches useful to you and then doing them on the field. Finally, Chapter 5 has some deeper, mostly yoga-based stretches.
When I do a program like Perfect in Ten: Stretch, I typically ask myself several questions: How effective is the program, especially in ten-minute segments? How new to me are the moves? And, if the moves are not particularly innovative, is the way they are sequenced particularly interesting or good?
Effectiveness: When I’m really tense, ten minutes of stretching doesn’t do very much. It’s better than nothing, but won’t get me really relaxed. I think Chapter 3 is good on its own, as it is easy to do in one location and is perfectly designed as a little break. The other chapters have you move between standing, mat work, and wall-based work. (There is plenty of time for these changes, but I don’t have a lot of spare wall space, so I tend to be frustrated by extensive use of wall space in exercise videos.) Doing 1 and 2 together is good for basic, head-to-toe stretching. I did the entire video, with an interruption, and I found that doing all 50 minutes or so really was effective, deeply relaxing, and relieved all sorts of pain.
Novelty: Most of the stretches, especially in the first three segments, are ones I recognized, though there were some surprises. Annette uses a lot of gentle twisting moves, which I also liked. I thought the sports stretch and intense stretch chapters were the most interesting. Sports stretch has a shoulder stretch (pictured) that a former yoga teacher of mine had us do, and which is truly wonderful if done right — I’m glad to have it on video.
Sequencing: Despite the fact that the chapters are themed, Perfect in Ten: Stretch works as a whole. It starts with super gentle stretches, continues to slightly more intense one, and builds up to deep stretches. If you have a regular yoga practice, you will probably not find Perfect in Ten: Stretch challenging enough. But if you don’t, or you’re trying to build up to yoga but are inflexible or suffering from pain, you might find the video just the thing for slowly easing into yoga-type stretches.
I’ve previously reviewed some of Annette Fletcher’s DVDs for World Dance New York here and here. The more I work with her stuff, the more I like her. She has a calm, matter-of-fact demeanor I find soothing. Her cueing is detailed, precise, and allows you enough time to move from one position to another. (I noticed one missed cue in the whole video.) And I feel better and stronger once I’m done working with her videos. They’re just plain solid.