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Montego Bay, Jamaica, essentrics.com
Fashion Magazine - April 2010
I’m sitting on an ottoman in the soaring lobby of the Iberostar Grand Hotel Rose Hall, waiting to meet my Essentrics retreat compadres. Gradually, the women (and one husband) arrive-Canadians and Americans of varying age, visibly relieved to be escaping their daily grind. We’re greeted by Sahra Esmonde-White and her mother, Miranda, the program inventor and something of a celebrity down south-she’s hosted a daily fitness show on PBS for the past 10 years, which is how Americans have come to be here. Rather exciting to see your TV trainer come to life.
A dancer with the National Ballet of Canada for four years, her career curtailed by a broken foot, Miranda went on to teach stretch and fitness classes, studying with physiotherapists and chiropractors before opening her own studio in Montreal.
The premise of eccentric movement-which Sahra identified as the key part of her mom’s invention while writing her master’s thesis on it-is that stretching the muscles and strengthening them in an elongated position allows a deeper stretch and produces a long, lean physique. Athletes Jessica Dubé and Kim St-Pierre testify that Essentrics makes them faster and resilient to injury, while starlets Noot Seear and Vanessa Hudgens are presumably more interested in its aesthetic benefits.
It becomes clear that a workout with Miranda is also a 100-level anatomy class-I learn about the function (and existence) of my IT bands and iliopsoas-and a strongly worded lesson in preventing old-age shrinkage. I start to feel that if I religiously strengthen my chest and back by reaching my arms up and by levering them backwards, I might stay proudly upright into my 90s. I walk away feeling taller, tauter, and looser in my joints.
My days consist of two classes, a nap on my balcony’s swinging loveseat and an inordinate length of time in my huge marble bathroom-given my schedule and the heat, I’m taking four showers a day. Far from lonely on my solo venture, I chat with my new pals in the open-air restaurant: One, from Maine, is an inspiringly sprightly 70-year-old landscaper; another is a fabulous well-read diplomat’s wife from Washington.
One day, a pretty limber yoga teacher from Miami wanders off the pool deck and asks to join in. she’s visibly surprised at the way the movements work muscles you didn’t even know you had. Afterwards, she writes down the wed address and expresses her disappointment that she’s merely at the resort on vacation. Twenty bucks says she shows up next time.
- Rani Sheen>>