What do Madonna, Teri Hatcher, and Edie Falco all have in common? They all share a love for Gyrotonic. You might be asking yourself, "What the heck is Gyrotonic?" It sounds like some sort of sexual beverage concoction, I know, but it is an innovative, somewhat complicated form of exercise.
I usually explain that Gyrotonic is like Pilates but in three dimensions instead of just two. It is very circular while Pilates is very square. Gyrotonic emphasizes mobility and Pilates tends to focus more on stability. You can think of gyro as yoga with resistance.
The machine known as the Cobra (or Tower Pulley) resembles a medieval torture device, but don't be intimidated since looks can be deceptive. Performing the motions of Gyrotonic feels so great that you can almost forget you're exercising. The exercises (there are about 50 sets of them with multiple variations) are based on the principles of yoga, ballet, swimming, t'ai chi, and gymnastics. That's a lot of principles so you can tell it is a mind/body exercise, so workout boredom in a Gyrotonic session is virtually impossible. The system emphasizes breath control and controlled resistance to develop flexibility and strength while encouraging a complete range of circular motion. To learn more about how the "cobra" works,
The machine consists of a bench that you sit or lie on and a tower with a system of cables, pulleys, and weights, which you move with straps on your hands or feet or with handles attached to circular plates in the front.
If you are interested in trying it out, you can often find Gyrotonic instructors at many Pilates studios (the two forms are great complements to one another). Or you can check this Studio Finder function on the Gyrotonic website. The downside is that private sessions are as expensive, if not more so, than private Pilates sessions: $65 to $85 per session. Group classes are rare since the machine is so dang big.
If you have a chance to try it out, I highly recommend it.