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Gyrotonic® and Gyrokinesis® - Long Names, Amazing Results

Duke City Fit Article featuring several clients of Momentum studio; by Gail Rubin; Summer 2007

Rich O’Connor pursues athletics with a passion and has paid the price. He smashed a collarbone while snowboarding, has broken bones, and had back problems from mountain biking, doing martial arts for 12 years, and other athletic endeavors.

A personal trainer with a degree in exercise physiology who has worked with sports teams from the NHL Boston Bruins to college and high school athletes, he worked with physical therapists and the best minds in sports training in a fruitless quest to fix his broken body. Then he discovered Gyrotonic, and everything changed.
“I just wasn’t satisfied with what physical therapy and the functional training trends had to offer, so I started looking at yoga and Pilates and was disappointed,” said O’Connor. “I came across Gyrotonic and was just blown away how far ahead of the game it was, ahead of everything else I had seen in terms of physical therapy aspects for rehabilitation and functional training.” He became a teacher of Gyrotonic in 2006.

Gyrotonic is an exercise system originally created in the 1980s that is beneficial therapeutically, can help athletes draw better, stronger performances from their bodies, and can help avoid injury. The exercises utilize spherical movements, which simultaneously lengthen and develop the entire body through conscious and constant control of movement, increasing the body’s strength, coordination, and range of motion.

Juliu Horvath, a former dancer, gymnast and swimmer from Hungary who was sidelined by an Achilles tendon injury, invented and began teaching Gyrokinesis®, originally called “Yoga for Dancers.” Gyrokinesis incorporates yoga-like postures with fluid continuous movements focusing on breath and energy.

Gyrotonic exercises, which are based on Gyrokinesis, feature gentle spiraling movements enhanced with weighted resistance, counterbalancing opposing forces, and coordinated breathing patterns. Specialized apparatus supports flowing movements that lengthen muscles, stimulate circulation, increase spine and joint mobility, and build core strength in a relaxing, rejuvenating workout that can also simulate cardio training.

Ali Surodjawan, a retired firefighter who has studied and practiced tai chi for more than 12 years, finds the Gyrokinesis classes he attends at Momentum Studio to be very helpful in his martial arts pursuits.

“Much of Gyrokinesis is very similar to tai chi movements, but the Gyrokinesis has a different emphasis in that it teaches you to open up the joints and to move from the core, exactly the way kung fu and tai chi movements are meant to be done,” Surodjawan said. “This is helping me to be a better martial artist, because now I can open up the joints and have less tension. The chi doesn’t flow when there’s tension. I know how it needs to be done, I just haven’t been able to do it before, so now I can make an application in much more depth.”

Both O’Connor and Surodjawan, who also does weight training and running, agree that Gyrotonic helps guys increase their flexibility, usually not a strong suit for the male gender.

Observed Surodjawan, “One of the challenges in my life has been not having as much flexibility as I want. I knew I wasn’t able to get the full range of movement because of my flexibility issues, and being a guy, I don’t like stretching. It was just something that was hard for me to sit down and do.” But Gyrokinesis has made a big difference for him.

Said O’Connor, “I was a very tight guy, the way guys are. But they don’t have to be that way. I can touch my toes, I can reach my arm over my head.”
Golfers Curt and Diane Brewer have found Gyrotonic to be very helpful for improving the fluidity, range and power of their swings out on the fairways. They do about 10 to 15 minutes of Gyrokinesis stretching specifically designed for golfers before getting out on the course, supplementing some stretches by holding onto a golf club.
Diane, a Pilates regular at Momentum Studio, shifted to Gyrotonic classes and really liked the way it made her feel. While she has had arthritis, problems with her feet, sciatica and hip issues, Gyrotonic exercises eliminated her pain. She gave her husband Curt a gift pack of Gyrotonic lessons for Christmas, to help alleviate issues with his back.
“I tried to explain it to my husband, finally decided he’s never going to understand it, and that’s the reason I gave him a gift certificate. People know about Pilates, but Gyrotonic is much more of a European kind of thing,” said Diane.

Curt agrees that it’s difficult to describe Gyrotonic. “I’ve tried to explain it verbally to my golf group, and I really can’t in a way that people say, ‘Oh, I understand.’ You have to do it to understand it.”

Curt took ten Gyrotonic private lessons over the winter and was pleasantly surprised when he returned to golfing in March. He felt far more limber, has gotten his drive off the tee box back up to 250 yards, whereas last year it was down to 230, and his back feels great.

“I had what I call a hitch in my giddy-up,” said Curt. “I could tell the difference right from the get-go feeling far more limber than I used to and having the shoulder turn that you need for a golf swing.”

“A golfer doesn’t need to bench press 300 pounds. He or she needs the core stability and spinal mobility to hit the ball well down the fairway,” said Dr. Bryan Alexander, who has Ph.D. in biomedical sciences from UNM’s School of Medicine. “The same approach can be taken with any specific sport or activity.”

Dr. Alexander co-owns Momentum Studio with his wife Aline, who has been teaching movement for more than 25 years. Momentum Studio, the largest and longest established Pilates and Gyrotonic studio in New Mexico, provides both the casual and competitive athlete with functional, sports-specific training.

Momentum is the only studio in Albuquerque that has five Pulley Towers, the fundamental piece of equipment in the Gyrotonic Expansion System, as well as all specialized apparatus. It is also an internationally renowned training center for both Pilates and Gyrotonic instructors, and all of the staff is highly trained in movement.

Although Gyrotonic and Gyrokinesis is a mouthful and somewhat difficult to describe, most everyone who has tried it agrees that it provides amazing results.

Observed Alexander, “With proper biomechanics and a healthy spine, athletes and non-athletes alike can benefit from more efficient, pain-free movement that facilitates daily activities such as going for a run, playing tennis, ballroom dancing, gardening, or simply living life to the fullest.”

Filed Under: Momentum in the News

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