This unique method of exercise has a surprising number of health benefits. For instance, it allows for increased flexibility, balance and strength, as well as improved posture…and also helps balance out both sides of the body, a boon for people who do racquet sports or other one-sided activities. In addition, the exercises benefit the organs, lymphatic system, cardiovascular system and mind-body-spirit connection, according to physical therapist Justine Bernard, DPT, a master trainer based in Washington, DC.
Most classes start with each participant seated on a mid-height stool that allows the thighs to be parallel to the ground while feet are flat on the floor. More advanced moves are done on a floor mat or standing. This form of exercise is appropriate for almost everyone, from children to seniors, Dr. Bernard said—though as with any new workout, it is best to get your doctor’s OK before beginning.
For a taste of the Gyrokinesis technique, Dr. Bernard suggested trying the following exercises, which are done while sitting on a stool or a sturdy chair without arms. Each exercise begins with hands on thighs and spine straight and tall…throughout each move, legs are spread wide apart, feet are flat and toes are angled out. Remember to breathe deeply and evenly, keep the belly pulled in and maintain a flowing, nonstop motion. Do four to eight repetitions of each exercise. For a video demonstration, visit www.Gyrotonic.com/GyroVideo.aspx and click on the video in the lower right corner. Moves to try…
Arch-and-Curl. Inhale, rocking pelvis forward slightly…arch spine, lift chest and gaze upward, then exhale. Next, inhale while rocking pelvis backward slightly as you gently round spine, gazing at floor about six feet in front of you and keeping head in line with spine so chin does not drop to chest. Exhale, feeling a stretch in low back. Return to start position and repeat.
Spiral. Exhale and turn at waist to rotate torso and pelvis to the left, keeping knees apart…at the same time, slide left hand to left hip and gaze over left shoulder. Inhaling, return to center. Then exhale and twist to the right, sliding right hand to right hip and gazing over right shoulder. Inhale and return to center. Repeat.
Side Arch. Exhale and bend at waist to the left, keeping spine long (don’t “crunch” the left side) and pressing left foot into floor to feel a stretch along right side. Inhaling, straighten up. Then exhale and bend at waist to the right, pressing right foot into floor to feel a stretch along right side…then inhale and straighten up. Repeat. For a deeper stretch: While bending to the left, raise right arm out to side and then overhead…while bending to the right, raise left arm out to side and then overhead.
Wave. Inhale, arching spine. Then exhale and, keeping spine arched, lower torso toward thighs as far as you comfortably can. Next, inhale and round spine as you raise torso, curling up one vertebra at a time, to return to start position. Repeat.
Learn More: Check www.Gyrotonic.com and click on "Gyrokinesis Classes" to find a certified instructor near you.
Source: Justine Bernard, DPT, is the founder of Elements Fitness and Wellness Center in Washington, DC. She received her doctorate in physical therapy from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, specializing in neurological and orthopedic rehabilitation. She also is a Gyrokinesis master trainer. www.ElementsCenter.com