Gyrotonic Exercises

By Kim Nunley

The Gyrotonic Expansion System is an exercise regimen that builds strength and flexibility with rhythmic, rolling motions. The system’s creator, Juliu Horvath, combines movements inspired by yoga, tai chi, gymnastics, dance and swimming. The system features both Gyrokinesis and Gyrotonic exercise methods. Gyrokinesis is referred to as “yoga for dancers” and requires no additional equipment. In Gyrotonic, however, the movements are performed with an apparatus that permits fluid movement but offers support and resistance. Visit a qualified and certified Gyrotonic instructor for proper exercise instruction.

Gyrotonic Apparatus

The apparatus used for Gyrotonic exercises features a bench and tower. Both have straps, handles and pulleys that allow for sweeping and circular movements. At one end of the bench are two wheel handles; they feature a vertical handle and rotate in a circle. Weighted plates, which can be added or removed from the apparatus to adjust load, provide resistance. Movements are performed in flowing sequences rather than in a back-and-forth pattern like in weight training.

Benefits of Gyrotonic Exercises

Gyrotonic exercises build strength and improve flexibility in muscles throughout the stomach, back and torso, which in turn leads to better posture and spinal mobility. A stronger core helps you achieve and maintain a more upright posture. Because exercises require wavy movements from the spine, they help to loosen any tightness and in turn improve mobility. In addition, because of the continuous movement of Gyrotonic exercise, you can use the program as cardiovascular exercise. As you perform continuous movements, your heart and breathing rates increase, developing your cardiorespiratory system.

Arch and Curl and Leg Pump

The arch and curl and the leg pump are two Gyrotonic exercises performed using the apparatus. The arch and curl strengthens the obliques and muscles along the spine. Sit on the bench, straddling it with your legs, and grip each of the wheel handles. Arch your back, push your chest up and out and then curl your spine forward, rotating the wheels in opposite directions away from you as if you were doing a breaststroke. Repeat three times. The leg pump exercise strengthens the abdominals and hips. Lie on the bench with your legs hanging off and your feet in the straps. Hold onto the wheel handles for support as you simultaneously bring your left knee toward your chest and extend your right leg. Cycle the position of your legs, bringing your right knee to your chest and extending your left leg. Continue alternating for eight reps on each leg.

Exercises at Home

Try Gyrokinesis exercises at home and without the apparatus to get an idea of how they feel. For the arch and curl exercise, sit on the edge of a chair with your feet flat on the floor and your hands resting on your thighs. Keep your spine upright and then arch your back and pinch your scapulae together as you lift your chin to look up toward the ceiling. Then, curl your shoulders forward, pushing your belly backward and bringing the chin down to look to the floor between your legs. Repeat, arching and curling your spine continuously for three reps. For the leg-pump exercise, sit on a mat with your knees slightly bent and your feet flat on the floor. Place your hands on the mat just behind your hips and recline back to set your elbows down beside your torso. Lift and bend your right knee, bringing it toward your forehead. Lift your left leg slightly off the floor with toes pointed away. Alternate your legs, cycling them back and forth for eight reps on each leg.

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