Essentrics draws partly from tai chi (in addition to ballet and physiotherapy). As anyone who has practiced tai chi would know, it takes time to learn and understand the movements, and seeing/feeling results can require patience. For most of us who are pressed for time or who desire more immediate gratification, Essentrics is an elegant, efficient solution with benefits beyond those of tai chi.
Studies have shown that tai chi practiced as a gentle health therapy can lower blood pressure and improve chronic medical conditions such as osteoarthritis and heart failure (1, 2). Students learn a series of movements and perform them in sequences. Some of these beautiful movements can be abstract, non-linear and challenging to grasp. The movements' translated names that reference white cranes, tigers, snakes, cockerels, and wild horses can further complicate our understanding. Tai chi is several hundred years old and those names created at the time were meant to denote the inspirations behind the forms. Yet fast forward to the 21st century, unless you are a nature enthusiast those names can seem foreign.
These are the reasons why doing Essentrics can be comparatively advantageous for many. Essentrics distills the balancing principles from tai chi that promote healing, yet the movements are simpler. You don’t need to memorize any motion or sequence but just follow along, whether you’re attending a live session or doing a dvd. If you miss a class or two, you won’t need to worry about falling behind.
The names of and inspirations behind Essentrics movements also resonate more readily: throw a ball, pull a rope, push a piano, remove a sweater, or wash a window. (Not to disappoint nature lovers, there are also names such as “pull a donkey,” “pulling weed,” and “open chest swan.”) Throughout the program there are clear explanations about how to do the movements and what specific muscles and joints are engaged. All these help to motivate us and allow us to feel immediate results. Many people remark how they feel wonderful right after their very first Essentrics tryout!
Since Essentrics also draws from ballet and physiotherapy, it has benefits beyond those of tai chi. One prime example is weight loss. The toning and strengthening principles of ballet behind Essentrics promote the burning of calories. Practicing tai chi in its common form of gentle health therapy (versus in the form of martial arts) will unlikely yield the same weight loss and body shaping results. These may not be priorities for every person, but for those whose weights are a concern, this is something to consider.
At the end of the day, the best fitness program is one that we enjoy and can adhere to. For those who can invest the time and have the patience, tai chi in its various forms is a great program. For many who lack the time, who prefer something simple and effective, who need more immediate gratification, or who desire body shaping results, Essentrics is the modern, elegant answer.
1. Morris, Kelly (1999). "T'ai Chi gently reduces blood pressure in elderly". The Lancet 353 (9156): 904.
2. Chen, Yi-Wen; Hunt, Michael A.; Campbell, Kristin L.; Peill, Kortni; Reid, W. Darlene (2015-09-17). "The effect of Tai Chi on four chronic conditions—cancer, osteoarthritis, heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: a systematic review and meta-analyses". British Journal of Sports Medicine: bjsports–2014–094388.