First Impression: I had a lot of people ask me what GYROTONIC® was prior to this review.  My best guess going in to it was that it was kind of like a cross between pilates on machines and kinesis training.   The equipment used for GYROTONIC® is the first thing I noticed when walking in to the studio.  It is not your typical institutionalized looking gym equipment.  It is a light wood and beautifully crafted.  Although there were multiple pieces of equipment, each piece looked like it had many adjustment points and could be used a variety of ways. The studio itself had a nice open flow to it, a very calm and welcome feeling on a Saturday morning after a busy work week.

Prior to meeting Jane Gotch I had heard about her practice from a couple of different people.  When I met Jane I jokingly told her that I heard she was “the boss” when it came to GYROTONIC® in Kansas City.  She quickly dismissed the accusation and laughed it off but after hearing her background and her story it was apparent that she was just being modest. She is not just a local GYROTONIC® instructor but has also instructed GYROTONIC® in India, Israel, New York and California.  It should also be noted that being a GYROTONIC® expert is just one of her many passions and accomplishments.

It was… a great activity that can be personalized for anyone. If you like playing on cool machines, being inverted (being inverted is not required) or enjoy a great stretch then you will like GYROTONIC®.  After my first session, I personally got both a great stretch out of it as well as some strength training.  In fact, my upper back (mainly my traps) were even a little sore the next day.  

We began the session with some light stretching while seated on a chair and then moved on to the pulley tower. The pulley tower was versatile in that you could use it to work pretty much any part of your body and it could be used in a variety of ways.  Its main purpose seemed to be that it acted as a mechanism to provide resistance to movements with the option of using no weights or small weights.   During our hour long session we used the tower to perform some upper body resistance training and some lower body resistance training.  It was during the lower body movements that I really began to grasp the principals of the movements.  For lower body resistance we attached the straps at the ends of the cables to my feet.  I was then instructed to lower my legs.  Instinctively I tried to recruit my quads to do the work.  Jane stopped me and instructed me to repeat the same movement only this time disengage my quads and pull the strength from my hamstrings.  Although the movement looked the same and the function performed “appeared” to be the same, the physical feeling of the movement was completely different.  This is when I realized that she did in fact, know something I didn’t.  There clearly was something to this GYROTONIC® exercise that made it different than a conventional workout.  At first, it was hard for me to describe what it was but upon further interrogation, Jane gave me a great example of a bicep curl at the gym.  When you do a bicep curl, you have a starting point and an ending point.   GYROTONIC® used circular motions and many of the movements we performed had neither a starting point nor an ending point.  They were a continuous fluid motion and movements.  It was a very different feeling to perform a workout where it didn’t feel like each movement was rigid and finite.  In addition, one of the things that differentiates GYROTONIC® from other workouts and keeps the movements fluid are the motions of the spine.  GYROTONIC® incorporates all elements of spinal motion from side to side, forward and backward motion to twisting, arching and curling motions.  As Jane describes it “the health of the entire body is related and dependent on the health, alignment, and mobility of the spine. Since the nerves originate in the spinal cord and radiates through the whole body, the openness of the spine directly impacts all of the muscles, organs, and soft tissue of the body. Power, as in a big cat like a jaguar or lion comes from suppleness, flexibility, and relaxation. A big cat can recruit its entire body to pounce due to the flexible strength of its nervous system. We want our bodies to be the same”.

After working my legs Jane let me try out the jump stretch board.  At first I didn’t quite know what the stretching board was or what it was for but upon seeing it my inner child was dying to try it out.  It was like being three years old and seeing a roundabout at the playground for the first time.  In fact, I would go so far as to describe my initial reaction to most of the GYROTONIC® equipment in this same way.   The jump stretch board definitely lived up to the hype.  You basically hold on to the bars and set your feet on moveable boards.   You could then extend your legs and lengthen your body.  It was simple, fun and a great stretch.  After trying the stretching board Jane let me move on to the ladder which is a piece of inversion equipment we used to decompress the spine.  Again, everything movement wise is very systematic from the time you get on a piece of equipment to the time you get off of it. Every motion is deliberate. Lastly, we concluded the session with more stretching.  Physically, I would compare the immediate post session feeling as similar to the way you feel after a deep stretch yoga class in which you feel lighter and lengthened.  The next day post session feeling however more resembled the muscle “awareness” which you would expect from a strength training session (i.e. I was a little sore).

If you are curious and want to give GYROTONIC® a try, you probably want to start out with a couple of one on one training sessions.  During these sessions the instructor will help getyou acquainted with the equipment and the movements.  If you like to be assisted in yoga then you will absolutely love it.  If you don’t like being touched then it might take you some time to get used to it as you will definitely need some guiding to train your muscles how to perform the movements.  With the instructors assistance I was able to recruit the muscles I was intended to recruit and let the muscles I wasn’t supposed to recruit relax.  This was the hardest part to get used to but as with anything it takes practice. Our first session we didn’t focus on breathing, we focused on movements.  However, I was told that as I progress in my practice and learn the movements that breathing would be a key component.  My overall opinion is that the workout is as versatile as the equipment.  GYROTONIC®  can be anything and everything from a great low impact workout to cardio to strength training and can be practiced within any age range.

What I liked the Most:  It is extremely versatile in that it can be used for strength training, stretching or physical rehabilitation, if you are looking for a great customized workout or have special needs, this hits the nail on the head.

What I liked the Least: As with anything, learning the movements and conditioning your muscles to respond a certain way takes time.  However, this is a learning curve that is overcome relatively quickly from what I understood.

 

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