Exercise begins with stretching your limits

A Gyrotonic workout is such a feel-good exercise that participants' minds, as well as their bodies, feel lighter after a session.

The exercises, using machines including an extension pulley system and leg extension unit, combine the principles of yoga, Pilates, dancing, swimming, tai chi and gymnastics.

Body In Line owner Jules Galbraith has been offering Gyrotonic exercises, in addition to Pilates classes, at her Gerringong studio since opening this year.

"I'm always saying to people it's a feel-good exercise," says Galbraith, who qualified as a Gyrotonic instructor in 2008.

"It works the whole body by stretching and lengthening and can be adapted to people of all ages, especially those with injuries."

Galbraith has had people from age eight to 78 take part in the workouts.

"The youngest was an eight-year-old boy who was suffering from cerebral palsy - it was great for helping him to use both the left and right sides of his brain," Galbraith explains.

Gyrotonic is a whole-body exercise that focuses on core stability, correct body alignment and balance.

The exercises provide muscle toning and strengthening, stimulating connective tissue in and around the joints to improve balance.

The movements consist of guiding the body through a series of circles and spirals, working joints and muscles in different ways.

Gyrotonic and Gyrokinesis (originally called "Yoga for Dancers") were developed by Hungarian dancer Juliu Horvath, with the aim of strengthening, stretching and elongating muscles.

The Gyrotonic equipment is designed to provide joint articulation without compression, distributing work evenly between agonist and antagonist muscle groups.

Galbraith says it's a great exercise for people who are often running or using weights as it avoids repetitive movements.

"We work the whole body, moving the spine in all directions," Galbraith says.

"You can finish a class and feel a lot lighter not only in the body but also your mind. It's almost like an internal massage."

The equipment helps people move fluidly.

The related Gyrokinesis system works on the same principles but with mats and stools rather than the equipment.

Galbraith says she enjoys the energy of the classes and the easy movement of the equipment.

"It's like being in the water with the feeling of freedom in your legs.

"It can also be a very challenging movement - it has cardiovascular benefits [in addition to aerobic] at the advanced level where people sweat during a workout and don't even realise."

Galbraith runs Gyrotonic sessions over an hour, incorporating Pilates classes. There is also the option of one-on-one sessions.

The Body In Line studio is at the Gerringong Surf Lifesaving Club. Phone 0402 278 257.

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