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How to Exercise without Leaving Your Living Room with Essentrics

As a plus size woman who is on a journey to body love, I'm always interested in finding new ways to push my amazing body. I've recently started to learn how to run and completed my third 5K this past September. When my friend Jenny Bertrand started teaching Essentrics, I wondered what it was all about. When she informed me that it is an exercise for every body type that you can do in your pajamas, I was sold! I couldn't wait to have Jenny share what Essentrics is all about with the Plus Mommy community.

Isn’t Plus Size Birth inspiring? It has been one of three important influences that have changed the way I think about my body. It’s been a journey, but I have come to realize just how important it is to love my body and treat it with love and kindness.

The other two influences: having children and a movement called Essentrics, a relatively new way to move our bodies.  Jen was kind enough to let me blog about my own journey to body love and share about Essentrics so that you can decide if it may also benefit you.

As background, I never liked my body as a young person. For as long as I can remember, my mother complained about her body shape and the inherited, cursed “big butt” all the women in the family had. As a child, I never saw what the problem was because she was beautiful as far as I could tell, but she eventually talked me into believing she was too large to be beautiful, and it convinced me I also had no chance for beauty. My father freely articulated his opinion on body shapes and was supportive of the philosophy that I should never let myself “go.”

And so, in high school and college and into my early 30’s, I exercised like crazy and tried to minimize my caloric intake. I realize now I was abusing my body for something it had never done wrong.

After having my first daughter when I was 30, I kept up the craziness with exercise. After my second daughter two years later, it became clear that when I abused my body with extreme exercise, I left myself with little energy to care for the family in a nurturing way. It also dawned on me that I could end the cycle of poor body image with my children if I could learn to love my own body.

So I made a change.  I convinced myself I have a beautiful body, a gift. I also started doing an exercise program on television called “Classical Stretch.” Initially I thought the program was too soft and gentle (not abusive enough) to really be effective, but it made me feel good.  My joints stopped hurting, I felt energized rather than depleted when I did it, and I could do it in my pajamas!

In my quest for body love I continued with Classical Stretch, now also known as Essentrics, through my third pregnancy.  I fell so in love with the technique that I recently become an instructor.

Essentrics is a nurturing exercise program. It treats the body with the respect it deserves. Participants of all ages, shapes and fitness levels gain the benefit of improved mobility, stronger muscles, improved metabolism, improved circulation, better balance, injury prevention and increased energy, just to name a few. Although the program is low-impact, it is challenging, and people are often surprised by how hard they worked once they have completed a workout.  Every muscle is used during each workout, so it’s very efficient.

Essentrics is for everyone, and I highly recommend giving it a try. With medical clearance, it’s safe for everyone, including pregnant and postpartum women. Here are some tips for getting started with Essentrics:

Find out if your local PBS station airs “Classical Stretch,” and try it out (it’s a 22-minute workout that you can do in your pajamas).

Check it out on YouTube. Go to  or and try some mini-workouts.

Find a live class near you. Classes are available worldwide. Visit for a list of locations. You may also purchase DVD’s or a streaming workout at the same web site.

How can you add movement, Essentrics or otherwise, to your life?

  • Find movement that you enjoy. Whether it’s dancing, swimming, running, yoga or Essentrics, find a movement method that you find doable and can sustain.
  • Now is a good time to start. Don’t let being too old, too fat, too busy, too nervous, etc. get in the way of doing something that gets you moving today. Our bodies are designed to move. They crave movement every day. When we don’t move, we lose energy and our muscles start to die. Put movement into your life.
  • Find an atmosphere that works for you: at home in your pajamas (one of my favorites), outside with friends, in a class setting, with a personal trainer, etc. When you’re new to a certain exercise, it is helpful to get some professional instruction to make sure you’re correctly doing the movements.
  • Understand you are welcome in an exercise class.  Exercise instructors are there to help all participants get the most out of the class. As an instructor, I love seeing new participants, and every single participant is different. There is no single look, outfit, shape, age, gender required. The differences are what make a class fun and colorful.
  • Ask for modifications, if needed. If there are positions or movements that hurt or you can’t get into ask for other ways to achieve the objective. This will require effort on your part and the part of the instructor.
  • Be kind to yourself. Movement should nurture and nourish our bodies. You don’t have to kick your own butt to effectively manage your health. Let’s respect our bodies.
  •  Movement should be as regular as brushing teeth. You’re never “done” (like say in a 30-day challenge). Movement is a lifetime commitment, another reason to make sure you find something you enjoy and can sustain.
  • Don’t be too precious with yourself. So, while we want to be kind to ourselves, if you haven’t moved much in a while or are exercising new muscles in new ways, you’re going to feel it. Let your body feel it, challenge yourself. A burning or knife-like stabbing pain is a sign of injury, and is a sign to stop. Otherwise, let your body work. Our bodies like to be challenged and respond by becoming stronger.
  • Keep up the body love movement!

  • To learn more about Jenny Bertand you can checkout her website and consider giving her Facebook page, Essentrics Denver, a like.



    Jen McLellan, CBE
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Wednesday 22nd of October 2014

Keep spreading the word- Essentrics is for everyBODY.


Wednesday 22nd of October 2014

Yes, I will, I'm sure excited to learn about it.