More Movement, Better Movement for Every Body
There are a few fitness modalities out there that have recently gotten a lot of press. Yoga is the biggest one that comes to mind. Cross Fit is another. Quite possibly the polar opposite, or are they?Here is the thing, as someone who has been in the fitness industry for over a couple of decades and experimented on my own body and seen modalities play out in hundreds if not thousands of bodies, I can’t tell you one thing is any better than another. People need to find their own path and what resonates with them at any given time. I can for sure tell you that there needs to be variety. Our body is always adapting to whatever information it receives, so it is important that we constantly give it new information with different kinds of movement, so that it can continue to adapt and become familiar with a wide range of skills.
With all that in mind, I’d like to introduce you to a couple of movement systems that have really spoken to me lately.
Most people haven’t heard of GYROTONIC® and GYROKINESIS®. These are modalities that are often described as yoga for dancers. But since I am neither a dancer nor a yogi, I don’t go there, which is why I shied away from it for a few years. But with that said…
It is said to be based on dance, gymnastics, tai chi. OK, these all help to give us an idea. But what it feels like, if done right, is one big stretch and a yawn, only better. I was attracted to it initially because it was a way to mobilize joints in the body while at the same time stretching and strengthening the entire body. Cool, all in one exercise. I’m in. That is exactly one of the reasons I love kettlebells so much, I like to be efficient, hitting all parts of the body at once.
But what I’ve learned over time as I (and several of my instructors) have undergone rigorous training for certifications, is that GYROTONIC® and GYROKINESIS® have actually helped me fall back in love with movement. While there are “guidelines” to the exercises, there are no poses to reach or anything I have to conform to in order to succeed. Instead, I get to move and enjoy it. Wow! A novel concept: enjoying movement rather than “working out”! One of my biggest joys in life is to help reinstate the love of movement for folks, and this is a great way to do that.
So again, what the heck is GYROTONIC® and GYROKINESIS®? Without seeing them, it is hard to understand, but in a nutshell, imagine a bow and arrow. You know how you pull back on the bow, the slender rod that flexes? Well, that’s what it feels like. It is a stretching, yawning, oppositional quality of movement. It’s a system of contrasting movements that allow me to move within my current range of motion, but gently change my structure over time; whether that be my fascia, joints or musculature. And while I’ve always been someone who likes to move and lift heavy things (you wouldn’t necessarily know that from my physique), I also really love getting more in touch with finding new limits in my body in a safe methodical way.
GYROTONIC® and GYROKINESIS® can be used at either end of the spectrum. I’ve worked with clients for rehabilitative purposes because it gently mobilizes joints, opening up stuck parts of the body. Thoracic extension, breath work and hip mobility are just a few of the major areas it consistently hits. But I’ve also experienced and seen the moves be challenging for those folks who are looking to take mobility, flexibility and strength to the next level.
I recently hosted a master trainer who was, in his past life, a strength and conditioning coach in Boston. By his own admission, at one time, his back was so tight he couldn’t even reach his hands to his knees. After trying a bunch of different modalities, he landed on this system. He can now move his 6’2” 200 lb body in ways I only hope to move. And better yet, he doesn’t come from a dance background, which meant that I could maybe make this happen in my own body.
I also have a client who was a collegiate athlete, and who is now an avid biker, biking 60 miles or so a day. His posture has adapted to that slightly flexed and head forward position, and his hamstrings are weak and tight. After working roughly once a week for 5-6 months, his breathing capacity has increased significantly, his posture has changed, and his shoulder pain has greatly diminished.
The bottom line is this: when it comes to movement, find something that you love. But also find a path that gently challenges you. Last month I talked about you asking yourself two questions:
- What is the cost/benefit and,
- Is this contributing to my long term goal?
I’ve found something that captures my attention as it fully meets these two criteria for me. Check us out if you’d like to give it a try.