The short version
The Gyrotonic (pronounced jie-ro-tah-nik) method uses fluid rhythmic movements to release tension around joints, creating a balance of strength and mobility. The name (gyro means circle, tonic means healing) gives a clue to the origins of the movement which was developed in the 1970s by dancer Juliu Horvath to rejuvenate his own body after a series of debilitating injuries. The movements look like a combination of dance, swimming, tai chi, and yoga. This is the short version of what the Gyrotonic method is; if you want to know what it's really all about, read on.
Before I tell you what the Gyrotonic method is all about, I want you to think for a moment about why you exercise. You might exercise because it makes you feel better or because you're training your body for a specific physical activity. You might exercise because you feel more confident and attractive when your body is in good shape. You might exercise because your doctor told you to or because study after study has shown the many benefits that exercise offer for physical, mental, and emotional health.
If you look at all of the possible reasons for exercise, they boil down to one thing: you exercise so you can feel good while you are living your life. The natural conclusion from this is that your exercise should be training you for the sorts of movements that you’ll be doing in your daily life.
Now let’s take a step back and look at most traditional means of exercise: running on a treadmill, lifting a weight up and down, squatting up and down; the list goes on and on but there is a commonality amongst most of these forms of exercise. They are all two-dimensional. All of these movements primarily go forward-back, up-down, etc. They only move in one plane.
"But wait," you say, "I love running!" And listen, I’m not telling you to stop running. There is value to all of those forms of exercise.
But we don’t live in a two-dimensional world!
So when you're exercising your body in a two-dimensional way, you aren’t fully preparing yourself for your daily life. Imagine some basic situations you might find yourself in on a daily basis:
- Walking your dog when suddenly the dog runs off to chase something, pulling you to the side with it;
- Playing with your kids or grandkids while sitting on the floor and reaching around to grab different toys;
- Cooking in the kitchen—stirring a pot with one hand while you reach up into a cabinet to grab some spices with another hand.
Do you see how all of these activities require 3-dimensional movement? The problem with 2-dimensional training is that you only develop strength, flexibility, coordination, and activation in the line that you are working, but in real life you need to be able to move in every direction.
Let’s look a little closer at the dog walker. Let’s say that her exercise consists of some traditional weight lifting and jogging a couple of times per week. Ok, great! Her arms are strong enough to lift her dog into the car so that’s a good start. Let’s say she even does some strengthening work to target her core so we don’t have to worry about whether she injures her back when she lifts the dog (if her back did hurt when lifting her dog, we might also suggest Pilates to help her get stronger core muscles). She has her cardio conditioning so her dog doesn’t wear her out, even on long walks. She’s doing really well! But then the mailman drives past and the dog races over to the side, pulling her along with him in an ungraceful side-flop.
What happens next?
If she has only been training in a two-dimensional way then her body doesn’t know how to react to the sudden change in motion and she's likely to get injured and maybe to fall. Depending on how bad the injury or fall are, she might have to stop running or weight lifting while she heals. Maybe the dog doesn’t get any walks for awhile. This affects her daily quality of life.
However, if she has been training in a 3-dimensional way then her body knows what to do in a situation where she isn’t just moving straight forward. She gets her feet underneath her, reels the dog back in, and goes about her day without giving the incident a second thought.
So all of this bring us back around to…
What is the Gyrotonic method all about?
This method uses circular and spiraling motions put together in fluid patterns to create 3-dimensional strength around each joint of the body. By training in this way, the body is prepared for movement in any direction, at any time.
Is it a strengthening system or a stretching system?
This system goes a bit beyond the concepts of stretch and strength. The effect of 3-dimensional movement is to organize the body in a way that allows for efficient movement.
If you don’t know what I mean about efficient movement, think about a cat coiling itself up and then springing up onto a countertop. Does the cat make the jump using enormous strength? Does it have bulging muscles? No, of course not. The cat makes that jump because it can efficiently transmit the force of its legs into the jump.
Once your body is more organized, you’ll discover that you, like the cat, don’t need as much strength to perform tasks. You’ll also notice that when you find an area of your body that is weak, it will get stronger much faster. And finally, and this is really the key, your body will be able to release the tension that it doesn’t need which leads to less pain and greater flexibility.
Let’s talk more about tension, because this is a big issue for a lot of people.
Tension shows up in our bodies for a few basic reasons:
- It can be held as emotional stress or trauma that isn’t getting processed.
- It can be created when you hold a position for a long time. For example, when you sit for a long time, your hamstrings are in a shortened position and eventually they more or less stick that way.
- It’s the body’s way of shoring up a weakness—if you have an area of instability or weakness then your body may create tension around the area to, in effect, create a splint for it. Often the body doesn’t turn this response off, even after the injury has healed.
The Gyrotonic method addresses all of these causes. Your body is very smart. By moving in full, 3-dimensional ranges of motion it's able to process trapped stress, erase habitual patterns, and strengthen weak areas so that your “splints” can gradually melt away.
This is huge! It’s a ticket out of tension patterns. Many clients have commented that their Gyrotonic sessions feel like a great massage. The difference between Gyrotonic and massage though is that Gyrotonic is active, so it gives you a tool that you can use to manage tension patterns. And with regular practice, paired with lifestyle changes to address the underlying causes, you can eliminate the tension patterns entirely.
So what do you get when you have an organized body with 3-dimensional strength and no unnecessary tension patterns?
- You get decompression of joints, an anti-gravity effect;
- You get more ease in your movements;
- You get better balance;
- You become more graceful and coordinated;
- Your posture improves so you look taller and more confident;
- You are more resilient;
- You feel calmer and have greater mental clarity;
- You feel more awake, more alive, more ready to face the world!
So what is the Gyrotonic method all about?
It’s about you!
The Gyrotonic method allows you to increase the capacity of every aspect of your body, no matter what your starting point is. The principles of 3-dimensional movement are useful to everyone whether you're coming off an injury, a couch potato, a weekend warrior, or an elite athlete. This movement system allows you to explore (and achieve) what’s possible for you.
The Gyrotonic method uses a large piece of equipment called the Pully Tower to help guide and support the body through the circular and spiraling movements that will allow your entire body to reorganize itself. As you learn the patterns, the equipment can also add challenge to the movements. Since every person has a different starting point, we recommend starting with private lessons to get the greatest effect the fastest. You can also do duets with a friend. The more personal attention you get, the faster your body will change and the greater results you’ll see.
Gyrokinesis group classes are based on the same principles as the Gyrotonic work but do not use the large equipment. They're instead conducted sitting on stools, on the mat, and standing. Gyrokinesis group class make a great addition to Gyrotonic lessons, giving you a chance to put into action what you’ve learned in your private lessons.
Personalized for you
We work with each client to develop a workout plan that fits your goals, budget, and schedule.