So I’ve had this DVD for about three weeks – unfortunately, due to adjusting to my new, crazy hectic schedule, I’ve only managed to actually follow through it twice.
It was like Christmas when this came in the mail. I snatched the package out of my boyfriend’s hands when he said I’d gotten something from Australia, and jumped up and down grinning like an idiot while trying to tear the package open.
I had to stop bouncing around to manage it. The return address on the envelope said merely ‘Cleo,’ hand written in black ballpoint pen. Yes, it’s safe to say that Cleo the Hurricane has replaced Karol Helms as my #1 favorite pole idol. I’m in danger of attaining rabid fangirl status. It’s bad.
So I reverently pulled the shiny DVD case out of the package. I admired the front, read the entire back cover, then opened it to see the DVD (same image as the cover) and the picture of Cleo and her back-up girls on the inside of the case. So I popped the DVD in and settled down on the couch to watch it through. There’s a lovely short clip of Cleo performing her signature Jade combo on the pole at the very beginning, before the menu comes up – pretty cool. I hit the very convenient “Play All” button on the menu. I watched it all the way through, and I’m glad I did. She gives good cues on when to add things on and/or go into a different move, but gives very little to no instruction on how to perform the move. There is some voice-over work, giving tips on what muscles you should be feeling, contracting, and how to keep your form correct that’s very helpful without being annoying or repetitive. Also, you don’t have to have a pole to do the exercises in this video – just a yoga mat (or carpet) and a chair for balance during the high-kicks section. While I do have a pole, and used it instead of a chair, it’s nice that she made the DVD in such a way that women who don’t have poles in their homes can use it as well.
But let me state this clearly – this is NOT a pole DVD. This is an EXERCISE DVD. Think “Buns of Steel” from the 80’s crossed with Glam Rock and modern set design, and you have this DVD. This DVD is designed to make you stronger and more flexible to complement your pole work.
The next day, I worked through the entire DVD. It is challenging!!! My glutes and thighs burned and ached through the million and a half toe circles and screamed for me to stop, but it felt so good! And my splits have never been as low as they were that day, though watching Cleo and the girls will make you feel about as flexible as a wooden board. The DVD was a little hard to follow the first time through, but I think as I do it more and more, I will learn the routine, the transitions will become easier, and it will be nice to be able to go through the routine without having to slow down and waste time sitting through lengthy explanations of moves and exercises. The whole DVD including the warm up and splits stretching at the end was only an hour, but I feel it really worked my legs in new ways. I enjoyed it a lot, and I feel like it’s something I’ll be able to come back to and do over and over without getting sick of it.
The funny thing is, I think I kept up with the flexibility part except for one thing – the lying hamstring stretch. Cleo can lift her leg straight up and tuck her ankle next to her ear. Mine looks like this at my maximum:
Fortunately for me, and for all of you, Cleo has started a Rockin’ Legs N Abs Facebook Group to talk about the DVD and ask her questions! I asked her about this particular hamstring stretch, included in the DVD, and why I’m having issues, because I can do this:
And here’s what Cleo herself told me!
“You have a very flexible lower back it sounds like. The Pike stretch also incorporates your lower back as well as hamstrings. When you do 1 leg at a time (laying on your back) this is a different stretch and utilising mainly your hamstrings. As they are really tight strengthening your glutes will also help. Be very aware of using your glutes when doing every day activities like climbing stairs etc, also when you do the lunges in the DVD. Most people dominate with the hamstrings instead of firing up their glutes which is why i spend so much time reinforcing the reason why we need strong bums! If you have a stretching strap (or even a towel) pull your leg down (with the other knee bent) until it’s about a 7 out of 10 in intensity (not shaking) then begin the PNF stretches like we do in the DVD. Push against the resistance of the strap/towel with your leg for 10 seconds, then relax and stretch a bit lower, hold for 10-20 seconds, repeat 3-4 times. this should help!“
So now I know that my lower back has been compensating for my extremely tight hamstrings. Damn. It’s nice to have a bendy back, it’s helped me with things like the Allegra, Janeiro, and Closed Scorpio. But honestly, I hate that lying leg stretch. It doesn’t even start to pull, and yet my leg will start shaking in this pose. But I will start working on it. Now I know I need to strengthen my butt (maybe I will pull out that ‘Buns of Steel’ DVD, too) and start seriously working on that hamstring stretch. New goal: to have awesome air splits.
Cleo also pushes building STRENGTH to increase flexibility, which more than anything shows me that she knows what she’s talking about!! If you strength train the muscles you’re also flexibility training, the likelyhood of you overstretching and destabilizing the joint are exponentially reduced.
I really enjoyed this DVD, and I think it is completely worth the money I paid for it, and recommend it to anyone who’s working on their splits flexibility! I like this DVD much better than the Alethea Austin and Felix Cane Flexibility DVDs. Cleo was a ballet dancer growing up, but she knows how the muscles work and how to break the exercises down for people who don’t have any dance or gymnastics background, like me, as well as people who are not naturally flexible. Even my friend Samantha, who openly admits she is NOT a fan of exercise DVDs of any kind, has found that she really likes this one. So if you’re debating whether or not to get this DVD, BUY IT!