Category Archives: Essentrics®

Group exercise and Essentrics®

Group exercise and Essentrics® have both been around for awhile. Essentrics® was broadcasted on PBS(Public Broadcasting System) in the late 90’s. It has since become an established brand in the group exercise community.

I was first introduced to it in 2018 at a CanFitPro conference in Toronto. I was lucky to have come across it when I did.

Why did I choose it? I have a background in physical therapy, massage, shiatsu, Pilates and dance. I was an athlete in my younger years as well as having spent multiple hours in the gym. I have dabbled quite a bit over the years with various exercise programs and techniques. So what was it that made me want to know more about Essentrics® and become an instructor?


The program can be modified to suit many fitness levels. There are multiple modifications for each exercise or movement sequence. These modifications may increase or decrease the level of difficulty. Modifications are also provided to increase the safety of an exercise for a specific population.

The movements themselves may not appear that complex or difficult at first sight. Essentrics® gets you to play with the balance of concentric and eccentric muscle contractions. Every time you move a joint, there is at least one muscle that lengthens, and another that shortens. Essentrics® makes use of the coordinated effort of these contractions to strengthen, relax or lengthen certain muscles.

Upper body stretches and arms overhead

I think this is unique to Essentrics®. There are multiple opportunities to work with the arms overhead, which if you don’t do it often, is a challenge. Most of our days are spent with the arms close to the sides of our body.

Large repertoire of exercises and movement sequences

Once you have acquired level 4 instructor certification in Essentrics®, you are allowed to design your own workouts. Essentrics® has hundreds of hours of workout material. They continue to produce new workouts with various featured instructors, each with their own movement style and variations in sequences.

Use of scientific principles and anatomical references

Essentrics® uses some techniques for muscle release that I have learned in the past as a physiotherapist. They educate their instructors on anatomy and get mostly everything right. There is a focus on posture and ideal mechanics. Essentrics® has generally jibed with what I already assumed to be correct.

Music, phrasing and fun

This is probably my favorite element. The use of musical phrasing, different rhythms and styles of music are encouraged in Essentrics®. There is enough room in the technique to capitalize on how music may help one to make deeper mind-body connections. For me, making these connections makes movement way more inspiring, interesting and fun.

Group exercise and Essentrics®

Lastly, Essentrics® was designed as a group fitness class. Check out my post called Group exerciser to see why you should consider becoming (if not already) a group exerciser too. And here is a post on choosing a group exercise class for some tips on how to evaluate what you want and what you need from a group exercise class.

So are you ready? LET’s GO!

Essentrics with Andrea

Group exerciser: My evolution and why group exercise

Unintentionally, I have evolved into being a group exerciser.  Maybe I always was one.  Now I identify as one.

There are many benefits of group exercise that can make the effort required seem less daunting and some added benefits that can only be experienced in a group setting. Now with COVID there has been an apparent online boom in options so you can do it anywhere without leaving the comfort of your home or workplace. Gyms re-opening with the possibility of live classes is still on the horizon. Even if you are not inclined to try that out, the livestream/ virtual options can provide many of the same benefits and will get you moving.

Early development as a group exerciser

My initial exposure to group exercise was virtually through some old technology called the television. It was The 20 Minute Workout and I always hoped my favorite back up instructor Bess, would be part of the trio.  Despite not actually being in a class, you were exercising along with others.  Sometimes my primary school friends and I would do the lunchtime workout together.

I was inspired by these aerobic exercisers, their confidence and showmanship.  Their integrated and unique combinations of fitness attire were always fun to decipher.  I was a little young and a bit conservative for the high cut leotards with the g string backs but I really thought these women were amazing. The sleek look of the  production and its sense of modernity at the time were unique.  

My first formal in person group exercise experience was at a gym called Lady Fitness.  It was an extension of the Superfitness brand.  I joined Lady Fitness with expressed intent of using the seated inner thigh (adductor) machine. Group exercise wasn’t my initial focus. I really thought that the weighted inner thigh squeeze machine was the answer to all of my problems.  I couldn’t wait to get my chance on it.  

The group classes were generally “aerobic classes” with varying levels of difficulty.  I remember being a little judgemental of one of the instructors huffing and puffing during her own workout.  Now I know better that the apparent effort did not necessarily mean lack of fitness.  It was just exertion, physically and vocally. 

Since that time I had tried multiple other gyms and fitness centres but nothing ever really stuck.  Frequently I was intimidated and extremely self conscious so l stuck to what I was used to which was mostly dance and cross country running.

Middle and later development as a group exerciser

My middle stage was going back to dance training in my late 20’s. It is almost all group physical activity in a dynamic group atmosphere. The final stage of my development included an intro to Essentrics at a fitness conference and then my first live class as a participant. I was fully engaged and left ready to go.

You are not alone

In retrospect, most of my exercise and movement experience had a social aspect which at the time I did not recognize its importance.  I loved it so much that I got started on a group fitness certification. Essentrics brought me back into the social aspect of group exercise.  

Feed off the energy of the other participants

Long before Essentrics, I decided to become a dancer again. I returned to the studio and group physical activity.  I loved being in class and feeling the energy generated by the musicians and fellow dancers! It was so stimulating! Essentrics classes have also provided me a similar encompassing experience as a group exerciser. Your focus is heightened by the group dynamic.

I can do that too!

…back to group exercise or group physical activity.  It really is the best thing for me whether a participant or teacher.  Either formally organized or just a duo after work.  It’s so much easier doing intentional movement when there are others around doing the same thing.  I think part of the motivation is to match your peers and a little competitive spirit.

Not enough time? Finances?

Sometimes there is a financial constraint to group work but the time spent is really just about prioritization.  Its truly up to you and what is it worth to you.   And in the advent of our recent world crisis, there are multiple online options to participate in with the instructor and modality of your choice.  You could even create your own group for that matter and choose someone to lead. The cost of online classes may be cheaper than in person. If you can get a group together likely it will be worth some instructor’s time with everyone making a smaller financial contribution.

Watch and follow someone else. Get out of your head and into your body.

I did an online class this morning for $10 with one of my favorite instructors.  It was totally worth it.  She has amazing energy, and I can see the other participants if I choose(as on Zoom). I stick some earpods in, set up my computer, clear some space, have a mat ready, runners on, and voila! In home training without a significant cost.

I prefer the live streams over recorded where the instructor is actually watching the participants to give modifications and specific cues. You really do feel like a part of a class, and it’s definitely more fun for me than doing my own workout.

Find your peeps. They are out there. Structure a class into your week and make the commitment. Take advantage of the abundant energy that is already out there to get you moving.  Are you ready?

Then LET’S get set and GO! 

Essentrics with Andrea