Where I went: Gyrotonic Seacoast (225 Atlantic Ave in North Hampton, 603-828-8155, gyrotonicseacoast.com)
What is is: Gyrotonic Seacoast is the only Gyrotonic facility in New Hampshire, and it offers a unique three-dimensional routine that is similar to that of tai chi, yoga and plyometric practices and is run by Kathryn Londoff. The Gyrotonic method (with machines) and Gyrokinesis method (without machines) were founded by Hungarian-born Juliu Horvath following a severe injury as a result of his years as a professional ballet dancer, according to the Gyrotonic Seacoast website. It was an attempt to develop a total-body conditioning and balance system that promotes healthy spine, joint and bone development. The practice balances precise body movements with a particular fluidity to achieve its goals.
What I did: I met Kathryn on the second floor of her facility in a room packed full of unusual-looking machines and devices with no real prior knowledge as to what exactly I was getting myself into. There, I also met Kate McDermott, a seasoned veteran and trainer in the Gyrotonic method who would be demonstrating the various exercises so I had something to base my movements on.
I had seen the photos and watched some videos of Gyrotonic workouts in preparation for this adventure and figured that it would not be such an intense session without the use of heavy weights or quick repetitions, but boy was I wrong. Through this adventure I was asked to use muscles that I had never used before, and to move my body in such a precise, determined yet fluid and rhythmic way that following each set I found myself walking as if I had just stepped off a trampoline.
I spoke with Kathryn about my prior history of athletics, injuries and workout routines as we briefly established a goal for the session. I wanted to set as much of a foundation to the workout style as possible within my two hours of alloted time and sample as many different exercises as we could.
I found that I, similar to most of my generation, have what Kathryn referred to as cellphone posture, which means that I naturally curl my shoulders forward with my head and neck constantly angled slightly forward as if I were looking down at my phone. We spent the first 20 to 30 minutes trying to break that habit and form the solid base position and posture that the Gyrotonic system is based on: a tight core and straight back as if there were a line from the tailbone up and out of the top of the crest of the head.
All of this was then paired with a method that asked me to focus on tensing muscles all the way up from my toes in counter-balanced ways, pushing in and out with my legs at the same time, pushing my chest forward while leaving my head back, and various other things of that nature. None of this came naturally to me, but after plenty of practice and loads of encouragement from Kathryn and Kate, my foundation was set.
From there, we began exercises that focused almost exclusively on the fluid and precise movements of our bodies with the help of the pulley tower that acted as a guide for the wide circular movements of my hands and arms. Every movement required my full attention at all times.
The assumption while watching is that the Gyrotonic method is an easy workout because it is done without the use of weights or heavy resistance, but the secret that I came to learn is that the exercises are based on the resistances within your own body. The difficulty and physical exertion derive from your mind constantly focusing on the act of moving so precisely and working to actively counter-tense your muscles to allow them to stretch and strain within the body by and against themselves. At the end of my two hours with Kathryn, I had not lifted a single weight, and yet I was truly well worked and my muscles were thoroughly fatigued.
Who else would enjoy this: Gyrotonic and Gyrokinetic lessons are a unique method of exercise, and it takes a lot of commitment to be rewarded with the work that has been done. It is not for everyone, and if you are not willing to commit and put the work in then it is not worth your time. But through time and commitment, everything that is done in the workout can be applied to real-life circumstances. From enhancing posture to simply increasing efficiency in day-to-day activities, the results are beneficial to all sorts of lifestyles. Professional athletes use these methods as forms of cross-training, and severely injured people use the exercises as a form of rehab. Older, younger, healthy or injured — there are no limits to who can partake in this form of exercise.