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[Material World x Breathe Pilates] Is Gyrotonic Right For Me? – Vanessa Tai

You may be a fitness newbie or a long-term Pilates practitioner. Whatever your fitness level, Gyrotonic serves to complement existing sporting endeavours. Vanessa Tai checks it out.

Okay, confession time.

When I first saw the Gyrotonic machine at Breathe Pilates’ Novena branch, I felt a tad underwhelmed. It just looked like a long wooden bench with rotational discs attached at the end. However, I soon discovered Gyrotonic was not as simple as it looked.

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My instructor Susanna explaining to me how Gyrotonic helps functional spinal movement.

But first, what is Gyrotonic?

Gyrotonic was developed in the 1970s by Julio Horvath, a former swimmer, gymnast, and ballet dancer whose career as a professional dancer ended abruptly after several serious injuries. In a bid to self-rehabilitate, Horvath developed a series of exercises that formed the basis for today’s Gyrotonic. In a nutshell, Gyrotonic is a system of exercise that incorporate movement principles from yoga, dance, gymnastics, swimming, and even tai chi.

Health benefits of Gyrotonic

As with other forms of Pilates, Gyrotonic requires you to be mindful of the connection between your breath and body. Some of the purported health benefits include an improved posture, increased strength and stamina, and reduced tension on your joints.

What can you expect from Gyrotonic at Breathe Pilates?

Before you embark on any class at Breathe, you will be given a one-on-one consultation where either the instructors or resident doctor would assess which is the most suitable exercise for your needs.

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Intention of movement is one of the key principles of Gyrotonic. Here, Susanna is ensuring my posture is properly aligned before I engage in movement.

Intention of movement is one of the key principles of Gyrotonic. Here, Susanna is ensuring my posture is properly aligned before I engage in movement.

My instructor for that day, Susanna is a 12-year Pilates veteran who has been practicing Gyrotonic for the last four to five years. She told me she was a dancer by training, which was immediately apparent from her graceful carriage and the fluidity of her movements. She explained that since it was my first session, she was just going to focus on one area of the body – my lower back. For regular sessions, however, you are likely to be exercising your entire body. Just remember, the machine is there to facilitate your movements but it’s actually making you do the work, not the other way round.

The Gyrotonic exercises seemed easy enough in theory; one of them involved me straddling the bench and pushing the rotational discs outward. However, there was a certain technique to it that I found difficult to grasp. I guess it was probably because my core muscles are “sleepy” from years of lack of use, so I found it challenging to isolate my core muscles as I pushed the rotational discs outward.

Thankfully, Susanna was very patient, even plonking herself behind me on the bench at times to guide me through each precise movement. That’s the great thing about Gyrotonic sessions at Breathe Pilates – because each session is one-on-one, you’ll get your instructor’s undivided attention.

Of course, one session is not enough to experience the full benefits of Gyrotonic. It will take at least five to 10 sessions before you start to grasp the principles behind Gyrotonic and feel the physical improvements. That said, I did feel the nagging tightness in my lower back and shoulders ease up significantly after that first session.

So, is Gyrotonic right for you? 

The beauty of Pilates and Gyrotonic is how they were designed to be a fully functional system of exercise. What that means is, the movements you do in class are designed to help you to move with grace, balance, and coordination in your day-to-day life. Depending on your needs, these exercises can be tweaked to be gentle or intensive, or even rehabilitative.

While Gyrotonic is certainly open to anybody of any fitness levels, I reckon the people who would reap the most benefits are likely those who are seeking relief from pain in the joints, shoulders, and lower back.

Susanna demonstrating the other uses of the Gyrotonic machine.

Susanna demonstrating the other uses of the Gyrotonic machine.

Material World worked with Breathe Pilates to review their Gyrotonic classes. All reviews are the author’s own and were not vetted by the client. You may read our advertising policy here.

Breathe Pilates is located at #09-33 Novena Medical Center, 10 Sinaran Drive; and #02-05/06/07 Tides, 217 East Coast Road. For more information or to make an appointment, call 9835 5683, email info@breathepilates.com.sg, or visit www.breathepilates.com.sg.

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