On a rare sunny early-summer day in PDX, my husband braves Rose Parade traffic to deliver me to a small, but lovely, studio in the Hollywood District of Portland, OR to experience my first GYROTONIC® session at Motionlab PDX with owner Yelena Foley.
I entered, eagerly, to be greeted by Yelena, the studio owner and certified GYROTONIC® and GYROKINESIS® instructor. After introductions I was given an overview of the various pieces of equipment. I immediately noticed that everything was constructed with wood and metal. It gave a feeling of being organic and true to a holistic approach to the body and fitness. It also gives the studio a wonderful warm feeling. At first glance, one may be a bit intimidated by the towers, pulley systems, and other various apparatus. Though, for this self-proclaimed fitness connoisseur, it looked like a wonderland of fit play. My eye first landed on the Archway. As she came to this machine she explains “Everyone is afraid of this one…”, I smiled to myself as I had already decided I wanted to try it first.
After being familiarized with the equipment I was guided through various exercised on each of them. Throughout the exercises Yelena was very hands on, aligning my body properly and helping me achieve proper positioning, but always checking in, as some people are more or less comfortable with touch than others. Her feedback was very direct and helpful. There is a bit of foundational body mechanics to learn with this method, as with any new exercise. She encourages her students to have a beginner’s mind. It can be a lot to take in, but do what you can and add to it as you progress.
The movements are fluid and circular, incorporating strength and flexibility with body alignment, definitely appealing to my dancer’s predisposition to movement. The movements are unlike any other traditional workout; there is much focus on rolling through the spine and a large range of motion. This is a welcomed therapeutic maneuver compared to most resistance training I’ve encountered where the body is locked into a stacked position for safety, given the nature of lifting things.
My entire body was worked, and any one area could easily have been an area of focus. By the end of the workout my body was most definitely acknowledging the work it was doing. Every movement covered a wide range of motion while simultaneously being incredibly focused. My core was tested and stamina challenged. I loved every minute of it. I performed motions similar to what I have done elsewhere but more dynamic and challenging. All the while I felt like it was helping my body become longer and more aligned. Unlike most exercises which break your body down and leave you feeling exhausted, this method uplifts your body and leaves you feeling stronger and energized by the end of the workout. Don’t let the talk of ‘fluidity’ or ‘stretch’ or ‘restorative’ distract you, this is a workout. You will probably be sore the next day, but you will not feel broken as with so many other things.
The next weekend I returned for the group session called GYROKINESIS®. This class uses the same principals but is performed on a seat and mat. There was a flow to it similar to Yoga. However Yoga is very linear, while GYROKINESIS® is more oblique, traveling along all planes of the body.
Both workouts were equally fun and challenging. I got to move my body in ways it is not accustomed, and use equipment that was unfamiliar and exciting. I loved the way I felt during the exercises as well as when I was finished. I recommend these classes to everyone, no matter your fitness levels or goals, you will find an aspect of this method beneficial to you.
A weight-resistance workout system taught on unique weight and pulley based equipment. Founded by Juliu Horvath, in the principles of yoga, dance, tai chi, and swimming, GYROTONIC® training is a series of circular and fluid exercises that works the entire body through muscular, skeletal, and cardiovascular stimulation. (3)
Each movement flows into the next, allowing the joints to move through a natural range of motion without jarring or compression. These carefully crafted sequences create balance, efficiency, strength and flexibility. (1)
An overview of the equipment:
The body is designed to work as one harmonious system,to follow arcing and spiraling paths of motion, and to transition from one movement to the next smoothly, and efficiently. GYROTONIC® method creator, Juliu Horvath , designed a specialized line of equipment around these natural movement patterns of the human body.
Because GYROTONIC® equipment is highly adjustable, it can be customized to fit each persons unique physique, and ability, adapting for things such as height, arm and leg length and physical ability. (1)
The Pulley Tower Combination Unit
The GYROTONIC® Pulley Tower Combination Unit is the result of over thirty years of research and development, and is the most widely used piece of GYROTONIC® Equipment. The pulley tower provides smooth, even support and resistance via a unique, weighted pulley system. (5)
The Leg Extension Unit
The Leg Extension Unit facilitates functional full, body movement sequences that strengthen upper/lower body coordination, and hand/foot coordination. Contra-lateral movement sequences in various planes increase functional strength and stability at all joints. A unique, patented, cam mechanism allows the leg to elongate, as it extends. So, the hip and knee joints are able to move in a fluid, natural range, without compression, increasing stability and strength around those joints. (5)
The Archway is considered by many to be the most physically demanding piece of specialized equipment. The vertical, tiered ladder design of the Archway accommodates advanced strength and stability sequences by allowing users to perform exercises in various relationships to gravity- vertical, horizontal, diagonal, and inverted. (5)
The Jumping-Stretching Board
The ergonomic, gliding platform allows users to experience running, and jumping in a low impact, horizontal plane, with the spine and pelvis fully supported, making it ideal for post injury exercise. Four independent gliding slides, with optional rotating platforms, provide for challenging strength and coordination sequences. (5)
Once known as “Yoga for Dancers”,GYROKINESIS® exercise is an important component of the GYROTONIC® methodology, which is in fact Yoga in Motion.
While GYROTONIC® exercise involves equipment; GYROKINESIS® exercise is practiced during mat floor classes using a mat and a stool. GYROKINESIS® exercise incorporates many key principles taken from yoga, dance, gymnastics, swimming and tai chi, though it is not based on these or other specific exercise models. You never hold a position for long but work at creating a fluid connection between the postures creating a dance that is invigorating and toning.
The effect of GYROKINESIS® exercise is an increased range of motion and coordination. All of the movements take your joints through their full range of motion and increase strength and flexibility while providing a cardio workout similar to a brisk walk. (4)
About Motionlab PDX:
Motionlab PDX offers GYROTONIC® and GYROKINESIS® method instruction: private sessions and group classes for all ages and any level of experience and ability. Thei philosophy welcomes athletes, dancers, seniors and children, as well as pre and post-natal clients to achieve your fitness goals. We specialize in injury rehabilitation, however we work with a wide variety of fitness levels.
At motionlab pdx, we carefully design our exercise programs to support our clients on their path to holistic fitness and well-being.
We cultivate mind-body exercise programs that serve the client with comfortable, yet challenging physical workouts. Our goal is to leave you feeling invigorated and full of vitality and gratitude to share with your world.You will quickly feel the difference in your posture, strength and flexibility.
• Private or Semi Private Sessions
• Group Classes
• Intensive Courses
Visit their website for more information
About Yelena Foley:
Yelena, has an MA in Dance Education from Altay State Academy of Culture, Russia, and is a certified GYROTONIC® and GYROKINESIS® instructor and Authorized Pre-trainer. She is trained in all specialized equipment, as well as GYROTONIC® and GYROKINESIS® level 2. Yelena has been dancing professionally and teaching dance and movement for more than 15 years. She is currently teaching ballet and GYROKINESIS® classes at Russian Ballet Academy. She is also one of the founding members of the Portland based Polaris Dance Theater.
What is most important to Yelena is educating her clients on the function and design of the body while communicating proper alignment and the mental process necessary to strengthen their bodies. She believes if a student is empowered with the knowledge the student will learn. (3)
As a dancer I found the circular and continuous movement as well as the stretching and and lengthening aspects to be beneficial and also beautiful in the fluidity of the movement. It felt a bit as if Yoga had been met with modern dance. As a slightly broken athlete (self-inflicted neck injury) I loved the non-jarring movements and the restorative qualities that came hand-in-hand with the strengthening exercises.
GYROTONIC®exercises are performed on custom-designed Gyrotonic equipment, whereas GYROKINESIS® exercises are performed on a mat and chair. Both GYROTONIC® and GYROKINESIS® exercise sequences are composed of spiraling, circular movements, which flow together seamlessly in rhythmic repetitions, with corresponding breath. Each movement flows into the next, allowing the joints to move through a natural range of motion without jarring or compression. These carefully crafted sequences create balance, efficiency, strength and flexibility. (2)
• Full body strength
Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls…
Motionlab PDX has students of all ages. Men and Women.
Due to the nature of the methods these exercises are appropriate for everyone! They can be used to increase fitness or simply as physical therapy and restoration. As with any exercise program, though, make sure to check with your doc.
You may wear whatever makes you comfortable. Exercises are performed in bare or stocking feet.
Get into it:
3829 NE Tillamook St
Portland, OR 97212
OR FIND A CLASS NEAR YOU HERE
If you like this you may be interested in Pyrolates.