While I am unclear of the origin of the name Gyrotonic, I am clear that this form of exercise is truly a tonic for a tight body. I began my day with a 60-minute Gyrotonic session with a master trainer at Sports Club LA and it was way better than a second cup of joe.
Gyrotonic method of exercise is most often compared to Pilates, but it's more multi-dimensional. Pilates tends to work mostly in two planes where Gyrotonic moves you through three planes of motions, often simultaneously. It's very circular where Pilates can be very square and Gyrotonic emphasizes mobility and Pilates tends to focus more on stability. You can think of Gyrotonic as yoga with resistance and continual motion that teaches you how to support your body as it moves through large ranges of motions. I think it would be great for aiding the reach of tennis players and the spines of the desk bound.
Learn what I did in my session.
My session began with some passive back traction on a piece of equipment known as the Ladder, which felt great, before moving to the intimidating looking Pulley Tower, sometimes called the Cobra. Beginning with the fundamental Arch/Curl movement, I sat on the bench with hands placed on (not gripped, never gripped) handles atop movable discs, I moved my spine through its entire range of motion, and then we added some twisting motion into the basic exercise. All the exercises emphasize lengthening the spine while narrowing the center to create stability on an exhale and softening and relaxing on the inhale. The abdominal engagement feels organically linked to the breath and movement.
Later, I put straps on my feet and worked my legs, focusing on that troublesome spot just south of the booty. Once my upper hamstrings were fired up, we moved into more complicated patters with my legs circling and moving through internal and external rotation. My legs felt simultaneously worked and lengthened, creating a little soreness in the back of the legs the next day.
I left my session feeling energized and taller. The aches and pains that usually afflict my shoulders and neck by midday never appeared. I think Gyrotonic is a great complement to any sport or physical activity; it seems to shape you from the inside out.
Check out some Gyrotonic moves.