How Age-Defying Therapeutic Stretches for Seniors Turns Back Time

Age-Defying Therapeutic Stretches for Seniors

Not as young as you used to be?

Nobody is! So I have designed a class — inspired by my video collection of the same name — to help seniors restore mobility and strength.

Tuesdays at 6 p.m. at The Ailey Extension.

Together, we will improve your balance, restore joint mobility, relax tense muscle, increase flexibility, and calm your mind. These slowly paced, easy-to-follow exercises are done both standing and sitting. Regain your youthful vitality and feel better!

“EVERY Body can benefit from Finis Jhung’s Age Defying Therapeutic Stretches. In this 45 minute class, Finis offers a path to a lifetime of flexibility — fluidity of movement and an agile mind too. This artfully designed series of deceptively simple stretches literally works the musculature of the entire body from head to toe — while requiring a focused mind attentive to the details of each movement. The class is rooted in the dancer’s warmup Finis developed during more than six decades as dancer and teacher. I consider it a gift that will never grow old.

Arleen Lebe

“Most of us make time to exercise but you don’t realize how right it feels to dedicate time to stretching until you do it. Every time I’m in class I think, this is so good for me. I think people don’t know what to expect from the stretch class. I would note that because it’s Finis it’s stretching but through fluid movement, utilizing the same principles from his ballet class to gain awareness of mobilizing your whole body from your toes, through your spine to your finger tips.

Jin Kang

“I welcomed Finis’s new class, Age-Defying Therapeutic Stretches at Alvin Ailey Extension, as a great way to keep flexibility and easiness of movement in my body and laugh in the face of time. I was also looking for new and safe ways to stretch to add to what I already know from Finis. The class did not disappoint! Finis created a very pleasant and restful atmosphere playing inspiringly meditative music to support the carefully choreographed movements for loosening up the body. He insisted on stretching parts of the body we routinely mistreat day in and day out: the neck, the shoulders and fingers. For example, I loved how we stretched the fingers pushing out the air, lengthening and separating each finger, as we opened our hands. Using the computer, a lot every day, our fingers are quite curled up most of the time, therefore, making the opposite movement allowed for increasing flexibility. We kept on swaying our bodies, creating circles with waist and arms and hitting all the tricky spots in the back, those that hurt. When we sat on the chairs, we all became swans creating beautiful movements with our arms. I was immediately reminded of the famous Swan Lake ballet. Actually, the class has an elegance and ease in each movement, typical of all Finis Jhung classes. And to top everything else, Finis demonstrated and did the full class with us. What a delightful experience at the end of a workday! I recommend you try it, too.

Ileana Ray

These easy and unique exercises immediately helped me achieve greater side stretch and openness at the barre. They really lengthened the area at the front of my hips and I noticed the difference in my alignment and in my arabesque in the very first class afterward. Thank you Finis!”

Amy M. Shapiro

“Finis is a master of dance movement, and with his new stretch class he’s developed stretches that are simple movements, rather than poses. The movement lets the muscles release gently and gradually, instead of forcing them to hold a pose, which can be stressful. I felt terrific after the class and plan to go back again.”

Donna Knipp

Julie Caprio Shares Her Finis Jhung Dance Journey

There is always something new to learn.

Julie Caprio

I met Finis Jhung at his studio on the upper west side of NYC. I was between contracts with Kansas City Ballet and The Washington Ballet. I had a few months break and was looking to study. I knew Finis was considered a great teacher and after my first class with him I was hooked for life. I never knew anyone like Finis Jhung. A pure teacher, one who gave information without drama, he loved to teach. I continued to take his classes in NYC whenever I was on break. Years later I found myself teaching and I thought back to Finis.

He began to create videos now DVDS and also Teacher Training Programs and wonderful books. I purchased everything, I watched his DVDs over and over so I could absorb the information.

My studio, although small by choice because I wanted to run it myself, has produced many professional dancers. I attribute this success to my training with Finis Jhung.

I attend the Summer Teacher Workshop every year. The notes he gives on the class exercises are thorough, it is anatomically perfect. He teaches us how to teach people to dance to move, not positions and not forcing the body. We work and learn to engage the muscles properly, on balance standing or in the air. Its all the same.

There is always something new to learn. It is also really exciting and fun to connect with other teachers around the world and hear their stories. Finis brings us together. He is my mentor and friend.  He is an amazing example for everyone not only in ballet but in life.

Natalia Shulgina Dances with Absolute Beginner Ballet Group Class 1

Natalia Shulgina’s review on Amazon.com was so detailed and helpful that she let us post it here, as well.

Natalia A. Shulgina is a native of Russia. She holds an M.Div. from the Russia United Methodist Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. from Emory University. When not impersonating an adult ballerina, she is involved in the teaching and practice of pastoral care, spiritual formation, and  clinical pastoral education. She lives, with her husband Mark and her dog, Rhodesian Ridgeback Rey, in Raleigh, NC.

If you love ballet and if for you, like me, traveling to NY is not really an option, give yourself a gift of this class — you body and soul will thank you!

I am not new to Finis’s teaching DVDs. Having started as an absolute beginner in ballet at the age of 40, I have been returning to his DVDs and books for inspiration, guidance, and clear explanations that work. Finis’s method of teaching ballet is unique, both his ability to explain the hidden “why” and “how” behind the movement, and his unswerving belief that ballet is not merely for the art of the chosen few but for the joy and health benefit of all.

Having worked with several of his DVDs: the absolute beginner series, barre and centerwork for beginners and intermediate students, the specific issues focusing on turns and jumps, as well as the holy grail of Extension and Turnout and Meditative Stretching, I have always felt–and regretted–that one thing was missing: I got Finis’s excellent instruction, but have never had an opportunity to participate in his class.

Not anymore. With this DVD, adult ballet students of all ages, shapes, and walks of life are given an unprecedented opportunity and gift — of being able to peek and step into Finis’s class, as he teaches it. It is a beginner level class, but I dare say, its benefits extend far beyond that level. Ballet is an integrative art, and practicing the basics correctly is fundamental to doing ballet safely and progressively better.

Content: the DVD starts with important stretching exercises to loosen and warm up the body for the movement. Next come instructions on proper posture, with Finis’s signature metaphors and expressions on how to hold ourselves properly in space. It might be tempting to skip these two sections, but that would be a mistake: those sections lay down the foundation of the bodily awareness, which will protect your body from injury in the long run. The rest of the DVD is pedagogically astute and balanced, as it moves progressively from the feet and legs to arms and core of the body, finishing up at the center. There, we get to see, how the exercises that were given before, incrementally, without our fully realizing it, prepared us to move through space with balance, strength, and grace.

The bonus content of the DVD includes short video-clips with Finis’s students: real people with real lives outside of the studio, who will never audition for ABT or NYCB, but who have truly become ballet dancers. I found this part deeply humbling and inspiring.

In conclusion: The real contribution of this DVD lies in the opportunity it gives us, not only to receive Finis’s instruction (always top-notch), but to see how other non-professional ballet dancers work at the barre and in the center. In the last 4 years of practicing ballet, I have noticed that even though we all are different in so many ways, the mistakes we make in ballet class are surprisingly similar: we forget to transfer weight to the balls of our feet, we stick our butts out in plie, we sickle our feet, we fail to keep the turnout muscles engaged as we begin the movement…Being able to see other people making those mistakes and receiving Finis’s correction in real time is priceless, because it allows us to learn better.

If you love ballet and if for you, like me, traveling to NY is not really an option, give yourself a gift of this class — you body and soul will thank you!

Try the Ten-Minute Ballet Break Free!

Enjoy the first four exercises for FREE!

Awaken your body and refresh your mind with these short bouts of ballet dancing that don’t require any warm-up. You’ll get warmed-up naturally as you dance your way through these short, choreographed exercises. Finis Jhung breaks down each exercise and then it is demonstrated by Antonio Carmena, former New York City Ballet soloist. To dance is to live!

7 Keys to the Finis Jhung Ballet Technique

  1. The demi-plié is almost isometric. In both the downward and upward movements, the feet—rather than the knees—should initiate the movements. The feet grip the floor and pull the legs into the plié and then relax and push down to return the legs to the standing position. This also applies to pliés on one foot.
  2. Most dance movements are on one leg. What must be developed at the barre is the ability to balance on and move from one foot. Try to work at portable barre placed parallel to the mirror. Stand behind the barre, on the diagonal. This will allow you to keep an eye on your supporting side and encourage you to work correctly. Test your balance by frequently taking your hand off the barre during exercises. In addition, check your readiness to move. You should always be able to rise off your heel whenever you press down on the floor.
  3. The supporting leg controls the free leg, and initiates each movement. The timing of every movement is made by the supporting leg. The free leg (the foot that brushes or slides) never pulls or moves the body. Only the supporting foot that pushes the floor should move the body.
  4. In the center floor, every step you take must be balanced by an arm, or both arms, reaching in the opposite direction. At the barre, develop this sense of the “back arm” by reaching for the barre and pressing down it. Never pull on the barre.
  5. When you pirouette from the fourth position, be sure that you go to “the end of theplié.”
  6. A jump is a relevé in the air. Push the floor, stand in the air.
  7. Overcross the glissade précipitée, which leads into battement fondu developpé relevé, and jumping steps where the free leg is brushed into the air.