Gyrotonic devotees are calling it the next big thing in fitness.
The Gyrotonic Expansion System utilizes a pulley system, weight plates, a padded bench and movable knobs. The machine incorporates stretching and toning movements from swimming, gymnastics, Pilates, ballet and yoga.
It's still a rare offering. The most recent survey by IDEA Health & Fitness Association in 2006 found that only 3 percent of fitness centers offer Gyrotonic, but it's among the top five exercise trends in terms of growth potential, topped by personal training, Pilates, yoga and kid's fitness programs.
Gyrotonic was devised in the 1980s as a form of rehabilitation by former professional dancer Juliu Horvath, who had suffered an injury. It can also be done without the machine -- Gyrokinesis is done on the floor, sans workout bench.
Gyrotonic Miami, in Miami Beach, is one of the nation's largest Gyrotonic centers, according to trainer Bradley Kreamer. Originally a training spot for teachers, the center has more than 10 machines in house.
"It is one of my dreams to introduce Gyrotonic and Gyrokinesis to schools," Kreamer says. "These children need to be in their bodies. Like yoga, it would calm them and bring them to a different level of awareness and comfortable self-image. They don't need to look like supermodels when they feel good about themselves from the inside out."
DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY
Trainer Bradley Kreamer recommends that newcomers come in for a private session before taking a group class. Having done so, I found the exercises quite easy to manage. Many movements recall the breaststroke, butterfly and freestyle motions from swimming. Others call for students to recline on their backs, affix legs to weighted bands and pump the legs in a bicycle motion. The exercises are designed to lengthen muscles while strengthening. Every muscle group -- arms, legs, abs -- gets its own workout. Since it's so gentle, the class is ideal for all fitness levels and ages.
Dori Goldstein, 27, a dancer with Ballet Gamonet, tore her calf muscle last year and wound up in a cast. Gyrotonics, she says, kept her in shape while she was on the mend. "I was in better shape than when I was dancing," she said after a recent session at the South Beach studio. Kreamer helped her modify some movements while she was cast-bound. "Perfect proof for how well this stuff can work," she said. "It's like dancing. You feel taller, longer, leaner."
I agreed. The exercises stretch so completely and smoothly you leave with better posture and an exercise buzz.