Stretching for Strength with Miranda Esmonde-White

Easy, Classical Fitness

Peter McCarthy
Exercise Can Be Easier, More Fun and Take Less Time
Exercise Can Be Easier, More Fun and Take Less Time

If you’re like me, feeling better and looking younger are twinned possibilities worth shooting for. Now, what if you could get there with a lot less effort or discomfort than you ever expected?

Classical Stretch, series created by Miranda Esmonde-White, a former ballerina, was a lucky find. Simple and straightforward, the techniques are as easy to do as any I’ve seen, and while leading you through twenty-two minute segments, Miranda explains why the stretches, many based on Tai Chai, can work for you.

Looking around on Public Television one morning for a promising exercise show, a friend of ours found Miranda teaching strength with stretching, using variations on Tai Chi, Yoga and aerobics, and loved it.

Here in New York, you can catch Classical Stretch on Channel 25 every weekday morning at 6:00.

No small part of her popularity is that, as exercise leaders go, Miranda has one of the most likable, engaging personalities you’re likely to find chatting her way through routines. That makes it easier to put on my exercise clothes when I’d rather kick back and do something easier. (Like sip some wine with a handful of pretzels.)

You're going to spend a lot of time, some of it stressful, with this person. Better if you like her.


Riding the Way Back Machine to the days when, eager to stay fit and trim, my wife found an aerobics show on Lifetime, one of the earliest cable networks. It got us started on regular fitness routines. Charlene Prickett, Canadian as is Esmonde-White, was so popular, Lifetime used to broadcast her show three times a day.

Eventually, we bought her tapes, DVDs and even a couple of full series.

We loved Charlene, but when we both took up long distance running, aerobics became a sometime thing for when the weather was bad or when a little variation was needed to pep up the routine.

After a flood of competing shows diluted the aerobics craze, we moved on to Yoga as a way to compliment the rigors of running with serious stretching. Again, we found a guru in Priscilla Patrick, stuck with and benefited from her guidance for years.

But then, it seemed harder and harder to find time for the workouts, even the 15-minute sessions we had on tapes and DVDs. Let's be honest. When you can't find the time in your 24-hour day for 15 minutes of yoga, you really aren't in love with yoga anymore.

That gave us a whole different set of problems.

Fitness, a New York City Necessity

Here in New York City, we spend a lot of our time climbing up and down subway stairs and dodging other pedestrians ambling along the sidewalks, their attentions stuck on cellphone screens. The need to be fit is not lightly.

Along Came Miranda Esmonde-White and Classical Stretch

What’s best about Miranda’s approach is that, for the most part, the exercise are as full of pleasant sensations as they are stresses.

There are some demanding moments, as there should be, but not enough to make Classical Stretch a routine requiring a public New Year’s resolution that goads you to continue.

Tai Chi pliés, for example, will have your thighs burning for a few minutes. But for the most part, because Classical Stretch derives from Tai Chi and Yoga, you are loosening joints and stretching muscles, both of which are exhilarating and soothing.

With Miranda, they are also often fun. Miranda's lighthearted patter as she leads you from position to position, explaining why it all works together in simple terms, keeps you engaged and informed.

The basic idea is that building strength while in motion is more effective than either in isolation.

The best way to describe these really refreshing and brief sessions is that they gracefully combine easy, low impact aerobics with minimal weight training (your body being the weights) that gets the best advantage from both.

Conclusion: Classical Stretch With Miranda Esmonde-White

No exercise routine I've worked with has been as conscientious about engaging my whole body. Miranda works your feet and toes up through your fingertips above your head with a style that often makes it all seem like play.

Miranda emphasizes flexibility, good posture and ease of motion that carries into your daily activities and does it effectively. I have never found a program easier or more beneficial.

We long ago learned that suffering in exercise is counterproductive. With Miranda Esmonde-White, we are learning that giving yourself the most beautiful and easy to stay fit can even be fun.

Here's how you get started:

Why not take Classical Stretch for a test run? Click here to watch on YouTube

You can find her most recent series on sale here on Amazon.

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