Range Of Motion
Gyrotonic and gyrokinesis gets the whole body moving
One way to get into shape is to push yourself to the breaking point. Another is to practice GYROTONIC, an exercise system that yields results but is kind to your body.
“People are surprised at how good Gyrotonic exercise feels,” says EMILY HUDSON, owner of INJOY MOVEMENT STUDIO and lead Gyrotonic exercise instructor. “The next day you may be sore. But, when you’re doing it, Gyrotonic doesn’t feel like exercise”
Developed by professional ballet dancer Juliu Horvath in the 1970s, Gyrotonic exercise blends elements of dance, yoga, tai chi, and swimming to build strength, flexibility, and agility. Though this unique program resembles Pilates, it differs significantly in execution and focus. For example, Gyrotonic exercise is done with weights and pulleys rather than springs. Also, Gyrotonic exercise is multidirectional and circular rather than linear. As a result, the Gyrotonic program focuses on spinal and joint mobility and whole-body movement rather than control.
Gyrotonic exercise has two forms, and exercises are done with special equipment. Beginning students first learn how to move correctly, and resistance is added as they progress. In Gyrokinesis, the exercises are done on stools and the floor.
While those who practice Gyrotonic exercise experience a number of benefits, one of the most important is freedom of movement. It addresses stiffness from a new or old injury, surgery, joint replacement, disuse, aging, or hunching over a computer. Practitioners also move better overall.
That’s because Gyrotonic exercise works the muscles through a full range of motion. It also targets muscles that have grown lazy or dormant as well as the small supporting muscles that aren’t used every day. In addition, practitioners can grow stronger, gaining long, lean muscles, as well as greater flexibility.
But what Gyrotonic exercise practitioners most appreciate is the end result – it helps them enjoy their lives. They can more easily perform favorite activities, whether that be playing with children or grandchildren or engaging in a sport.
While Gyrotonic fans enjoy the physical gains they make, they are just as pleased with the mental lift they get from the exercises. Though Gyrotonic practitioners work hard – and they may have the sore muscles the next day to prove it – they don’t feel washed out and beat up after a class. Instead, they are relaxed and rejuvenated.
The Gyrotonic system is a favorite of avid exercisers as well as the exercise- averse. Professional athletes use the program to enhance their game, Hudson says. Golfers and tennis players find it improves their spinal rotation, swimmers mimic the movements they use in their sport, and dancers and gymnasts grow stronger and more flexible.
But, anyone, including the elderly and those with injuries or disabilities, can benefit from Gyrotonic exercise. For example, one of Hudson’s clients suffers from osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, and chronic back pain.
For her, the program is a “super way to get exercise.” She gained strength, flexibility, balance, and relief from back pain. An additional, unexpected benefit was increased range of motion in her rehabilitated shoulder.
While many come to Gyrotonic exercise because they want to rectify a problem, Hudson says the program is for everyone, and she urges people to take it up while they are in their twenties and thirties and in shape. That way, they can prevent or better handle mobility issues that often accompany all those birthday candles.
Hudson also believes that Gyrotonic exercise is the antidote to today’s hardcore exercise programs.
“You don’t have to tear your body up to be healthy and strong,” she says. “We are tearing our bodies up so young and not seeing the long-term effects of that. If you’re looking to be as fit, healthy, and mobile as long as possible, start Gyrotonic exercise now.”
Parish describes Gyrotonic exercise as longevity based.
“I’m keeping fit in the moment and setting myself up to be strong and flexible well into my older years,” she says.
To get the full benefits of Gyrotonic exercise, practitioners should take two classes a week if it is their only form of exercise, once a week if they regularly engage in another form of exercise, Hudson recommends.
To view more of photographer Terah Wilson’s work, visit www.terahwilson.com.
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