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Gyrotonics Is a Workout That Helps Restore Mobility in the Spine

A Gyrotonics machine has straps and pulleys to help the joints move through their natural range of motion.

Carl Lewis uses a Gyrotonics machine to promote elongation of muscles and restore elasticity in the spine. PHOTO: JULIE SOEFER FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL


Sept. 7, 2015 12:24 p.m. ET

A lot of people are strong, but they aren’t efficient with their muscles, says Amy Ell, a Gyrotonic master trainer and the founder of Vault Houston, an aerial and Gyrotonic studio.

“In the case of Mr. Lewis, he could run and jump, but he couldn’t move his spine,” Ms. Ell says. “We taught him to use his entire body when he moves.”

The Gyrotonic Expansion System was created by a former professional dancer, Juliu Horvath, as a way to regain strength and agility after a series of injuries.

Gyrotonic exercise sequences are composed of spiraling, circular movements that flow together, allowing the joints to move through a natural range of motion without compression, Ms. Ell says. “If you think about a runner’s gait pattern, they shouldn’t be marching up and down. The motion should be circular,” she says. “Gyrotonics trains the muscles to be supple like a rubber band rather than rigid and in one position.”

Ms. Ell says Gyrotonic training is great for people who don’t move throughout the day. Exercises are performed on a Gryotonic machine, which has a tower, a bench, pulleys and straps. “These exercises teach elongation and help people regain elasticity in the spine,” she says.

Ms. Ell says she sees a lot of women with rotator cuff injuries due to reaching back to grab a heavy purse from the back seat of their car. “The shoulder takes the load,” she says.

“What should happen is that the spine facilitates the twist to reach, and then the elbow bends to grab the purse and the spine twists again to help bring the purse forward,” Ms. Ell explains. “We focus on a lot of arching, curling and twisting in class—motions we just don’t do in everyday life anymore.”


Stefania Supriya Calabrese

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