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Going beyond mainstream training

Rhonda Beckham
Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune Rose Marie Ottman, a Gyrotonic fitness instructor, leads Rhonda Beckham through a series of exercises.
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Last month, I attended a Body-Mind-Spirit conference in Santa Clara to continue my education in fitness training and learn new and unique ways to teach people. This was a huge event with attendees from all over the globe. When anyone asks me about it, I proudly tell them it was all about Pilates (my true passion) and yoga before mentioning Gyrotonic. My lack of emphasis about this third part of the conference is because even though I had seen this equipment before and experienced the system, it is almost impossible to describe it to someone unfamiliar with bodywork equipment.

I have been working with certified Gyrotonic instructor Rose Marie Ottman for several weeks at her beautiful studio outside the city limits of South Lake Tahoe. I’m hooked. As much wonderful physical activity that my body gets to experience on a daily basis, it’s usually about my students’ wants and needs. I now get the pleasure of taking care of myself twice a week with amazing results.

The stretches Rose Marie has me endure are borderline medieval, causing occasional guttural moans and groans. Rose Marie could blackmail me if she were to take photos of my ridiculous facial expressions. I don’t know how she doesn’t burst out with laughter at times.

To all my clients and students, now you hopefully can feel some sort of satisfaction knowing I get pushed to the limit. And just like you, I cannot wait for the next time. Mark Twain described Lake Tahoe as the jewel of the Sierra. I say Rose Marie is the gem of Tahoe.

I thought I would let the expert explain what Gyrotonic exercise is about. This is what Rose Marie has to say:

“If you haven’t heard of Gyrotonic, you’re probably not alone. Just as Pilates now is mainstream, one day expect the same for this system devised by Juliu Horvath that utilizes three-dimensional movement with resistance. There are more than 1,400 studios worldwide offering this revolutionary exercise method. Although one of my friends affectionately refers to it as ‘gin and tonic,’ the name actually derives from ‘gyro,’ meaning a circle, and ‘tonic,’ referring to something that is good for you.

“The equipment called the Gyrontic Expansion System consists of two handled wheels attached to a movable bench that sets next to a tower with a weight-and-pulley system with upper- and lower-resistance straps. The genius of this system is that it allows for freedom of movement in all planes in space while calling upon strength with flexibility to perform the exercises with fluidity and attention to one’s breath.

“The joints of the body experience lengthened range of motion, and the handled wheels allow the spine in particular to spiral with complex articulation. This type of complex spiraling is not practiced using typical push/pull gym equipment and makes Gyrotonic ideal for golfers hoping to improve their swing.

“In addition, the more extreme demand for shoulder mobility in some of the wheel exercises have allowed my clients with residual problems from shoulder surgeries or injuries to make remarkable improvements in their strength and flexibility. Although this method can be challenging for the skilled athlete, the system is highly adaptable and useful for people recovering from injuries or those seeking a nonimpact form of exercise. One of my clients with Parkinson’s disease has been able to reduce stiffness and maintain flexibility through regular practice.

“While Pilates also is another excellent mind/body system that develops a muscular lengthened line, it tends to be more linear and placement-oriented. I recommend and utilize both methods with clients but find the Gyrotonic philosophy to be more useful for seeing how energy is directed in the body.

“Physical holding patterns from past injuries can be identified more easily, as the Gyrotonic method looks at how the body is moving and follows the flow of energy (or the break in energy, as occurs with physical issues). The exercises initiate movement from the core, then radiate the energy outward through the limbs. An ex-dancer client enjoys the rhythmic dynamic of the movement and says her exercises sometimes can feel like dancing.

“The principles found in the Gyrotonic exercises also can be performed without equipment, using Horvath’s method called Gyrokinesis. These specialized exercises are done sitting on a stool or lying on a mat, and can be performed separately or with Gyrotonic. If you would like more information, please go to gyrotonic.com or contact me with questions. Enjoy ‘spiraling’ into control with a commitment to regular exercise, whatever the source may be.”

– Rhonda Beckham is a nationally certified personal trainer with teaching certificates in Pilates and kickboxing.


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