Named by Forbes as a “Hot New Fitness Trend” in 2006, everyone from dancers to athletes to celebrities to us “lay people” can all benefit from the Gyrotonic Expansion System. Like Pilates, it makes you leaner, longer and stronger, but it doesn’t stop there, it also makes you more flexible and makes your core stronger.
Gyrotonic or the Gyrotonic Expansion System (GXS) is a therapeutic movement system based on movements found in ballet, swimming, yoga, gymnastics and tai chi. This system, originally developed by Juliu Hovarth a Hungarian ballet dancer who had his career cut short by an Achilles tendon injury, is meant to stretch and strengthen muscles and improve flexibility and mobility in joints. “Unlike most conventional exercise machines where linear or isolated movement patterns are performed creating uncoordinated strength, the Gyrotonic Expansion System emphasizes multiple joint articulation without compression, thus strengthening ligaments and each attachment.” (www.gyrotonic.com)
The exercises are performed in undulating, spiral and circular movements helping release stiffness and increase range of motion in joints. This is also considered particularly beneficial to those suffering from arthritis. Marc Darrow, M.D., assistant clinical professor at UCLA School of Medicine stated, “As we age, the collagen in our ligaments and joints wear down. The Gryotonic System counters by gently stretching the areas and bringing additional blood and nutritional supply.”
And it isn’t just for the “yoga dancer” types, quite the contrary, golfers and tennis players greatly benefit as well, since this greatly loosens up the pelvis region. Done correctly it can help improve a person’s golf game by 20 to 40 percent (results vary by individual, of course). This is especially helpful for most sports where you tend to favor one side of the body over the other, which over years of use can cause your body to be seriously misaligned. Gyrotonic helps to strengthen both sides of your body, thereby correcting any misalignment you might have.
A few of the benefits:
- Improve posture
- Help back/neck and shoulder problems
- Rehabilitates injury and prevents future injury
- Improves blood circulation
- Releases tension
- Improves balance and coordination
- Increases flexibility
- Provides a general sense of well being
How is it done?
Based on Gyrokinesis (exercises allowing one to work the entire body through seven natural elements of spinal movement: forward, backward, left side, right side, left twist, right twist and circular, which is the group mat system of movements), the exercises are done on a Gyrotonic machine also called the “Tower” with pulleys and weights to create resistance. The Tower is designed to hold the body weight, allowing its user to let go of tension allowing you to strengthen the inner core muscles and lengthen and tone the outer muscles to give you a more streamlined figure. There is a combination of spiral movements, when worked in conjunction with the breath, to help to create a feeling of balance and “freeness” making you feel like you’re performing a dance. However, if you feel you need more of an active workout and all this “fluidity” is too “fluffy” for you, increasing the speed and intensity of the accompanying breath work can apparently increase the intensity of the cardiovascular stimulation. You essentially learn to twist, turn, bend and stretch the pulley system thereby increasing your endurance, strength, mobility and flexibility.
Gyrokinesis and Gyrotonic Expansion System seek to bridge the gap between traditional exercises such as Pilates and Yoga and the more untraditional alternative form of energy healing such as Reiki, Qi Gong etc. This system is thought to combine exercise and movement with energetic awakening. Gyrotonic students are said to have the sensation of “feeling alive and peaceful, open and grounded” after each session. It is viewed by many as not just an exercise system, but a journey for both the mind and the body to embark on in complete harmony.