This week I was notified that I’m now officially a Level 2 Essentrics instructor. Wahoo!! I know, I know. What does that mean, exactly?
There are four levels to the Essentrics program. The first one teaches the basics of the program inside and out, from anatomy and physiology to musicality and timing to objectives and techniques, and beyond. It provides everything needed to teach a class. The second focuses on the trademark exercises that are unique to the Essentrics program. They’re full body movements that focus on stretching and strengthening the upper body while incorporating big lower body movements for support. They’re strategically placed at certain points within a complete Essentrics workout in order to rebalance the body while fitting the purpose of the entire workout.
There is SO MUCH to know about these important movements, so I learned a lot leading up to my exam. Having now completed it, I’m looking forward to implementing all I learned into my classes and in my own practice. Each level is proving to be as humbling as the last as my mind continues to be blown by the genius behind this program, which is why, as the knowledge I just gleaned is top of mind, I want to share the importance of these moves with you.
What is a Trademark?
The developer of the Essentrics program designed Trademark exercises and sequences to rebalance the body as a whole, working through complete muscle chains. Keeping this in mind, these movements are big and beautiful, using your full body to execute. They use resistance and relaxation in movements you’ll typically use in your everyday life, just more dynamic. They provide immediate results in posture, pain, and flexibility. You’ll typically find two trademark sequences in a one hour workout.
There are a number of aspects of trademarks that make them so impressive, but I’d like to focus on the following:
Since these movements (and most in Essentrics) are so unique and sometimes hard to grasp at first, it’s nice to be able to recognize them before trying them, which is where imagery comes in handy. An instructor will use loads of imagery to help you identify the amount of resistance, the shape your body should take, and the speed at which you’re moving. When it comes to trademarks, you may hear ‘bow and arrow’, ‘lullaby’, or ‘windmills’ to help you imagine and move to where your body needs to be to achieve results. This help you see results while protecting your body, instead of guessing at what to do and potentially hurting yourself.
Full Body Benefits
Trademark exercises and sequences are completely rebalancing. That is to say they work the front, back, and side upper body muscles equally using a mixture of flexion, extension, and rotation, as well as a mixture of bent or straight arms and legs. Then there’s how you use your muscles during the trademarks, such as contracting versus extending and resisting versus relaxing.
In Essentrics, there’s a big focus on strengthening the muscles in a lengthened position, as well as moving the body in two directions, creating space in joints to relieve pain, massaging your muscles, and leaving you feeling taller and stronger when all’s said and done.
It’s amazing and sounds impossible, but chances are you’ll walk out of an Essentrics class with better posture and less pain, if you’re experiencing any to begin with. Trademarks help to accomplish this, because they’re designed to rebalance muscles around the joints, work both agonist and antagonist muscles (think biceps versus triceps), and include work through entire full body muscle chains. You’ll hear “reach!” a lot in Essentrics, and with good reason. When movements aren’t finished the body doesn’t receive the natural effects that come with moving the way trademarks are designed.
As an aside, Essentrics isn’t a hard workout, but it is different than most so your body may tend to feel like it did an intense workout after your first class. Though it is challenging, it’s also gentle, which is why, when done correctly, you shouldn’t feel pain.
As another aside, one class isn’t the answer. As with most things in life, the best results are seen with repetition. Over time the movements become more clear in body and mind and you understand the theory and purpose behind what you’re doing a lot better, but you also feel a heck of a lot better the more you practice!
Mimic Everyday Movements
Trademark sequences mimic everyday movements, they just exaggerate the movement for more strength and support for when you use the same movements in your everyday. The first time you try them they will likely be challenging. Although they are based around everyday movements, the exaggeration alone is enough to feel like a workout, or even foreign to the body, but they’re done in a safe manner, slowly easing you into a deeper stretch.
Once you find your rhythm the body recognizes the movements to be safe and will allow you to find more flexibility and strength. Try them enough and suddenly you’ll realize you can bend over without pain, or reach for that bag of rice on the top shelf of your cupboard when you couldn’t two months ago.
We Need Trademarks
No, I don’t believe Essentrics to be the be all and end all to movement. I think it’s important to incorporate a variety of forms of movement into your life. Having said that, from my experience and from talking to others who have made it a part of their routine, Essentrics has the ability to be a stand alone workout. Each workout has a different purpose, but they all include trademarks and for good reason. Without them a workout would fall flat and you’d leave feeling imbalanced and incomplete like something’s missing. You wouldn’t stand as tall or as comfortably, may still have lingering pain in your joints, and would long for more.
Likewise, when I was training for my level 2 exam, I had to practice trademark sequences by themselves over and over, which left my body feeling imbalanced and spent. Trademarks can exhaust you, which is why they don’t take up the entire workout. They’re equally balanced with other more specific exercises of varying intensity, such as arms, plies or deep stretching, so to not overdo it, as well as to focus on specific goals, whether it be toning, stretching, or age-reversing. All aspects are needed in an Essentrics workout. Remove one and it’s just off.