The Relaxing Workout That Can Help Your Posture In A Big Way

Photographed by Stella Berkofsky.
Recently, Lady Gaga shared a Instagram of herself exercising in a studio with a complicated-looking apparatus in the background. In a later 'gram, she explained that she was doing yoga, Pilates, and Gyrotonic. If you've never heard of Gyrotonic (aka "Gyro") before, it's not a new brand of sparking water or a Greek sandwich, it's a full-body exercises system designed to increase your range of motion, strength, and movement efficiency.
At first, Gyro was practiced seated on a chair or mat, without any equipment, and called "Gyrokinesis." Then, the creator Juliu Horvath designed a machine with a pulley system that's supposed to mimic your body's natural movement, which became Gyrotonic. The machine helps people learn the complicated movement pathways, and provides resistance to build strength — but there are tons of Gyrokinesis exercises you can do without the machine, too.
Gyrotonic is interesting, because it's similar to other types of exercise, like Pilates and yoga, but also entirely unique. "Gyrotonic takes influences from yoga, Pilates, tai chi, swimming, and dance," says Chuck Wilt, a certified Gyrotonic instructor and modern dancer in New York City. That might sound like a hodgepodge of workouts, but when you see the fluid stretches and exercises in action, the comparison makes sense.
One of the main benefits of practicing Gyrotonic is to help joint pain, promote good posture, and increase spinal health, Wilt says. You're constantly moving in Gyrotonic, so nothing is held statically, explains Susan Gaines, a certified Gyrotonic instructor and founder of Embody Movement Studio in Minneapolis. "That helps really work on multiple levels, so you're not only decompressing the joints and lengthening muscles, but also working fascia and stretching nerve pathways," Gaines says. Many people who are rehabbing certain injuries turn to Gyrotonic because it's gentle and graceful, and can even help break down scar tissue, Gaines says.
If you're just sitting at your desk and dealing with aching back pain, there are a few Gyrokinesis exercises that you can try by watching videos or taking a class. But consider signing up for a small Gyrotonic group class (there are classes on ClassPass!), so you can learn from an expert and get hands-on attention, Wilt says. To give you a sense of what Gyrotonic actually entails, we found some helpful YouTube workouts and tutorials ahead.