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Essentrics Review: If It Gives Me A Dancer Body, I'll Do It

08/01/2013 04:21 EDT
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Each week, the Huffington Post Canada's Living team will try out something that has sparked our curiosity, and as long as we live to tell the tale, we'll let you know all about it.

Test Drive Subject: Essentrics

What It Is: Essentrics is a weight-free body toning, flexibility and "thinning" technique where muscles are strengthened while in an extended position. The program was co-founded by Montreal's Miranda Esmonde-White of PBS fame, a former ballet dancer for the National Ballet of Canada, and further developed by her academically accomplished daughter Sahra, who's the master instructor and also happens to have a killer dancer body. The technique has gotten a lot of buzz with pro-athlete and celebrity circles, including the Montreal Canadiens and Canadian starlet Sarah Gadon, who joined our Toronto class as part of her fitness regimen in prepping for her role in the upcoming Dracula. (We're also excited to see who she plays in the Amazing Spider-Man 2.)

Price: The cost varies depending on the studios and gyms across Canada where classes are available. They also have a series of DVDs, including a 60-minute full-body workout for $19.95.

Trying It Out: The exercises are mostly pretty slow and low impact, which I'm a big fan of. Some of the moves, like the leg pliés, feel like classic ballet, while others reminded me of yoga, pilates and tai chi.

Our Thoughts: I'm only 5 feet tall, so I'm up for trying anything that targets getting long, lean muscles as opposed to short and stocky ones. The best part is, you can do it anywhere. All you need is a mat, and maybe a chair if you want to get into some of the deep stretches. The balance between strengthening and stretching while focusing on your core also feels kinder to your body than just punishing it with high impact cardio or heavy weights.

The Warning: If you're doing it right, these moves will hurt. There are some very challenging (read: painful) arm and leg lift exercises that will have you begging for mercy by the end of the set, but don't expect a huffy-puffy workout. If you really want to sweat, go for a steam after class!

Tips: The technique relies heavily on correct posture for each of the moves and some of the positions — like a particularly tricky butt tuck — may be easier to learn in a class setting as opposed to the videos if you have access to live instructors.

Have you tried out Essentrics? Let us know what you thought in the comments below:

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