Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A Little Bit of Yoga, A Pinch of Pilates, and a Dash of Dance= Gyrotonics!

I bought a five-package class deal using LivingSocial and have waited until I attended all five classes to report back to you. This post is broken down by describing what Gyrotonics is, the format of the class, and my final thoughts on it as a workout. 

"Are you ready for a new home in your body?"- That's what the website for Body Evolutions states straight off the bat. Pretty big talk.

I arrived at Body Evolutions studio located in Manhattan's Lower East Side neighborhood this morning for my one-hour group Gyrotonics Tower class. Per their directions, I arrived a little early to fill out  some paperwork, apply my LivingSocial voucher, and settle in.

The studio is one large room with a small reception area in the front and filled with Pilates and Gyrotonics Towers throughout the rest of it. Owner/trainer, Bill Macagnone, greeted me as I entered and told me a little more about gyrotonics. Before seeing it on LivingSocial, I'd never even heard of it- Bill didn't seem surprised by that. First he asked me if I did any other type of workout- I said yes of course and he told me that was great because Gyrotonics is a mixture of Pilates, yoga, and dance. Using the term "workout" loosely, Bill explained that Gyrotonics isn't like a normal workout but, rather, an activity to warm up your joints and that it will further enhance all of your other workouts and even your everyday posture. Cool- I like to sit up straight.

Though Bill is a well-known Gyrotonics trainer, he didn't create the program. In the 1970's, a ballet dancer named Juliu Horath designed the program to rehabilitate himself after injuring his Achilles tendon. According to Wikipedia: "The exercises are intended to be fluid and rhythmic, using specific breathing patterns that Horvath claims cleanse, detoxify, and rejuvenate the entire body."

We usually had a full class (four or five people) and our teacher, Mor, a perfectly toned Israeli woman, led us to the back and set each of us up at our own Gyrotonic Tower. Me, being the total newbie in the first class, had no idea what I was doing and had to be told which direction to sit. Luckily, everyone was very helpful. Mor first led us in breathing and stretching exercises. I felt... like a fool. Everyone else was into it, though, so I tried to be. We sat up straight, our shoulders relaxed, with each leg on either side of the bench of our tower and moved our upper body in big circles to stretch out. Is it just me or does it always feel weird to be in a class and hear people exhaling dramatically?

After breathing and stretching, we got started but to be honest, the "workout" felt like one prolonged stretching session for the most part. We used the machine first by sitting with our back to the wall and placing our hands directly in front of us on the dials of the Gyrotonic Tower. We then performed these very exaggerated rotations of the dials with an emphasis on keeping our spine long and our breathing deep. I honestly felt nothing except a little bit bored. I don't know, this just wasn't the "workout" I was expecting. I was encouraged when we were told to put the Gyrotonic Tower straps on our arms and feet because I knew we'd be working with some resistance at least. The real challenge came in controlling the straps with your limbs. The moves themselves (lots of circles- big, medium, and small) are not complicated or difficult... until you slow down and really control them, rather than just swinging your arms or legs (whichever you're working out at the moment) around. We never went above controlling 20 pounds and I think working with about 30 or 35 pounds would've suited me better. I don't want to bulk up (just tone up!) but 20 really did feel a bit light.

Photo courtesy of Body Evolutions. That's not me but that is Bill!

MY FINAL THOUGHTS: Ok, so Gyrotonics doesn't suit me. Let's just put that out there. I like more intesity when I'm working out and tend to get a bit bored if the class lacks it. In fact, I waited weeks to finish this post because I just wasn't very inspired.

There is, however, one effect I credit to Gyrotonics that I whole- heartedly miss about the class and that is the huge difference it made in my posture. Friends and random people were commenting on it during the five weeks I took the class, even asking if I was a yoga or pilates instructor! I think that the emphasis on keeping a straight spine during the hour- long class carried over into my daily life which is just awesome! Obviously, I can work on my posture on my own time without taking a Gyrotonics class every week but it came effortlessly while attending them so if you're someone who has trouble with that, Gyrotonics might be for you! Also, in a similar vein to yoga, I definitely felt very zen during my time there. The instructors, Bill, and most of the other students were all positive, upbeat people who were there to focus on their mind and body... making it that much easier for me to feel comfortable doing the same!

I doubt I'll take another Gyrotonics class again anytime soon but if I did, I'd check out Body Evolutions again in a heartbeat!

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