Whats the Difference Between Pilates and the GYROKINESISⓇ Method?

Over the past few weeks we have had more clients try the GYROKINESISⓇ classes out of curiosity and looking for a fit for their range of motion. I hope this post helps to shed the light on what is similar and different between the Pilates and GYROKINESISⓇ methods. 

The Pilates method is in a nutshell a system of exercises that develop the body in a uniform way. It is true that not all exercises are needed for everybody and doing the right exercises that match where you are physically, mentally, spiritually makes a huge difference in the results you get from a session. Pilates training teaches us to look at physical skills in terms of systematic progression. Stability of the body is first addressed along with an emphasis on creating symmetry within the body’s structure (to be even, centered). Next, we use the tangible stability of the center of the body to move downward, outward and upward. As a student develops strength in the hips, chest, back and learns to balance the head and neck, the internal actions of “up” will show up. This is decompression of the spine. As a student progresses we add increased range of motion around and within the center of the body. The takeaway here is agility – flexibility within our joint systems. Finally the student moves into increased stamina and efficiency of their movement, even speed for those who need that for sport.

Pilates begins with lying exercises and then progresses the body through a series of seated, lying, kneeling and standing exercises due to the relationship that the center of our body has to gravity and the systematic development of skills listed above.Technique and flow (breath, continuous movement, rhythm) exist harmoniously in Pilates with new skills being developed along as a student trains. 

It is an ideal cross training program for sports, recreation and quality of life. There are exercises performed on a mat, with a traditional mat that has straps and poles and a specific apparatus. The apparatus is not harder or easier; it simply provides you with feedback to make connections in your body. It teaches you “how and where” to support movement; when it is used well acts as a partner to a workout. We regard them as tools. With tool use comes a responsibility to use and not abuse. Tools simply enable us to accomplish more within the given time span. 

The GYROKINESISⓇ method is also an exercise system. It is the mat work and stool work, standing and self massage work within a larger method of exercise called the Gyrotonic Method. A GYROKINESISⓇ class begins differently than a Pilates class: sometimes seated, sometimes standing, as a way to begin to move the center of our body into a grounded state. We want to feel and identify the root of ourselves, the underside of feet, thigh and hips.

There is even an opportunity to begin with “awakenings.” “Awakenings” are a sequence of self massages that awaken the body’s senses and prepares ourselves for the work ahead. This is done in the beginning of the session so that a student can exercise for the purpose of warming, circulating and moving within the body internally to externally. From there, we teach the actions that comprise spinal decompression and healthy joint motion for all the major body systems.The class proceeds through a variety of exercises and movements that move the spine in all directions and in different planes. The body receives increased support for the movement though the use of contrast. “Contrast” are movements initiated through our “Seed Center” (the center) and travel downward, outward, upward, around and through in all wonderful various directions. Understanding contrast and increasing your skills to apply while exercising enhances the stability of the body and unlocks a freedom of movement within you. It is fun and makes exercise joyful.The GYROKINESISⓇ class truly brings you into another type of movement – another modality to work and play with. It communicates a different perspective on wellness and exercise. It unlocks the tools you need to nourish, grow strong and remain fluid.

Similarities between Pilates and the GYROKINESISⓇ Method:

  1. Exercise practice with internal support of core and range of movement through joint systems
  2. Breath connection and relationship to moving 
  3. Rhythmical fluid motions that support you while working/playing
  4. A unique attitude,  because your workout is yours, make it such. 
  5. The compassion within the practices is based on the same “work where you are” philosophy. If you need to be grounded in your base, start there. If that’s easy and shows up well, move up and out through the body.   

Differences between Pilates and the GYROKINESISⓇ Method:

  1. Progression of exercises: spinal movements in different directions, sooner in session.
  2. Sequence: Decompression by internal actions is the beginning — in Pilates it is the result, but the GYROKINESISclass takes this farther and asks for more space, more movement within the body.
  3. Massage: Soft tissue health addressed through awakening series self massage techniques, drumming rhythms for your body, parasympathetic nervous system coached to alight through the session.
  4. Philosophy of the work: In GYROKINESISⓇ classes the student is viewed as imperfectly perfect and taught to optimize their wellspring of health. There is a definite attitude that exercise can be fun and joyful instead of pain and suffering. An emphasis on nourishment, to give and receive evenly within our talents is also a fruit of the practice. In many places, Pilates is communicated as corrective exercises that “right” the body.  I pick up on underlying tones that there is something you need to correct. This is an attitude difference I pick up on in the different worlds. The GYROKINESISⓇ Method looks at you as if you are already awesome and now let’s make something from what you have. 

In summary, both practices are wonderful compliments to each other. They both offer different perspectives and experiences for a student or athlete. Also worth stating, is that a teacher which communicates the work is ultimately a student first. Their unique perspective on the work continually evolves due to their study, life experiences and practices. So please keep in mind that this is one perspective on it. My practice in the GYROKINESISⓇ exercise is young and this is what I have experienced thus far. My practice in Pilates is older and therefore has a different feel. This work will feed you for a lifetime if you keep exploring within it.  Let’s see where we can go together.