What if I told you there was an exercise that could help you tone, lengthen, and strengthen muscle and connective tissue in your body? What if I also told you that this sequence of movement was good for your mind-body connection and could help you link movement with your breath to release stuck energy? You’d be intrigued, right? Well, let me introduce you to the Gyrotonic method—a dynamic fun fitness regimen that even Lady Gaga approves of.
So, for starters, what exactly is Gyrotonic? Gyrotonic exercise features special machines that utilize a weighted pulley system (think, Pilates reformer here) that help to improve the body’s movement through resistive and assistive forces that train the body to connect and move more efficiently. Basically, these machines seek to help you expand your body through sequences of stretching and strengthening movements.
The Gyrotonic method was developed by professional ballet dancer, Juliu Horvath, making it a favorite workout among dancers to improve technique and flexibility. But the amazing thing about the Gyrotonic method is that you don’t need to be a fitness pro or elite athlete to partake—almost anyone of any age can do it—and see some pretty impressive results both physically and mentally. To highlight just a few of the health benefits associated with this type of exercise are increased energy, better posture and alignment (something I noticed right away), stress reduction, long lean muscles and a whole host of others.
Now that you have a very basic overview of what Gyrotonic is, what the method looks like, and what some of the associated health benefits are, let’s jump into what an actual session is like. I mentioned in my November Agenda post earlier in the month that I met Patricia, the owner and master trainer of Gyrotonic LINY in Huntington Village, through a friend who was staying with me and taking a class there. I had a very preliminary knowledge of what Gyrotonic was, but it wasn’t until I stepped foot in Patricia’s gorgeous sunlit studio and saw my friend working through some of the exercises, that I was intrigued to learn more and try a session myself. Fortunately for me, Patricia graciously invited me to come back and worked with me on one of the pulley towers that she has in the space.
First off, let me just say that Patricia is the real deal. If you have any interest in learning more about Gyrotonic or trying a class, I highly recommend connecting and working with her. A native Long Islander, Patricia moved out to California after law school at Columbia University. It was there that she discovered Pilates and became certified as a Pilates instructor. Upon moving back to New York, she was introduced to the Gyrotonic Expansion System and was immediately drawn to this approach to movement. Patricia has now been teaching Gyrotonic for more than 12 years and is a certified master trainer. In 2017, she opened her beautiful space in Huntington where clients can learn the Gyrotonic method from her in private one-on-one sessions or in small group classes of four to ensure proper form and hands-on assistance.
Now, onto the actual workout. Patricia had me start off easy on one of the pulley towers, which may look intimidating, but really just provides a gentle resistance as you go through a series of movements that incorporate the whole body. The most important thing to note about Gyrotonic, is that the positioning of your body is very important and you will likely need corrections as you move through sequences. I know from sitting at a computer for long periods of the day, wearing high heels, and being sloppy with my posture from time to time, that my body is often out of alignment. I also know from kickboxing that the left side of my body is stronger than my right side, and I know from yoga that I don’t quite breathe properly. So, I wasn’t at all surprised that Patricia picked up on all of these things almost immediately and I went through a few rounds of corrections. While it may sound strange since this was the first time I was exposed to the Gyrotonic method, I felt very at home on the machine and could actually feel like my body was lengthening with each gentle movement. I felt muscles that I had neglected have to work harder than usual and I used muscles that I use everyday in a new way. While the workout itself isn’t difficult, connecting the mind, body, and breath as one was a bit of a challenge for me. But what I loved most about my time on the machine was really noticing how my body felt as it moved and isolating different areas where my body felt stuck. I have only been able to really feel that in my own body through working with Patricia on the machine.
I enjoyed my time with Patricia so much and how she talked through each exercise and demonstrated what it was supposed to look like. Of course, because I wanted to share photos of what it looks like to actually work through some of these exercises in this post, I asked her to take a few, which really helped me see my alignment and where I need to improve. While one class by no means makes me an expert, I find the method so interesting and I can’t wait to learn more with each session and to see (and feel) how my body learns to move more efficiently.
As a former figure skater turned equestrian, this is one workout that I wish I had been doing during my riding days. But the beauty of the Gyrotonic method is that you really don’t need to be any kind of athlete to benefit from it. Whether you’re in your twenties and simply want to improve your posture after hours at your desk job or you’re in your eighties and need a low-impact workout to preserve your range of motion and keep a healthy spine, Gyrotonic is the perfect workout.
I’m beyond grateful that my friend introduced me to Patricia and this studio, and I really believe that the Universe has a way of bringing the things (and people) you need into your life at the right time. I truly felt like a whole new person after leaving my session with Patricia—my body was aligned, I was relaxed, and I stayed focused throughout the rest of my day.
I’m already looking forward to my next session and I can’t wait to share more about Gyrotonic with all of you. If you have any specific questions or things you want to see on my Instagram Stories, please leave a comment below. And, if you’re local on Long Island, connect with Patricia on Instagram or visit her site to learn more about her studio and offerings.
Thank you to Patricia for inviting me to try a session and for introducing Gyrotonic into my life.