GYROTONIC® training and pilates are both great. No need to compare them.
In October of 2013, during my trip to the Pilates Method Alliance Conference, I had the chance to sit down with GYROTONIC® Specialized Master Trainer Angela Crowley to talk to her about how she compares GYROTONIC® training and pilates. She essentially doesn't.
This was intended to be a video interview, but the hallway in which we spoke was much louder recorded than it was live so the audio was very poor. Instead we have this transcript. Enjoy her wise words.
Angela: I was originally certified by Romana (Kryzanowska) in pilates and taught pilates for years and worked with a number of different pilates organizations over time. I was introduced to Gyrotonic training when I was studying Feldenkais and I was very interested in the organization of organic movement. I was searching for ways to apply that and saw a photo of someone on a GYROTONIC® Pulley Tower, shot from above, looking at their back and it kind of had an interesting angle of the spine. So I started to pursue Gyrotonic training and initially, because I had so much experience with pilates, I was approaching Gyrotonic training with a pilates brain. That really got in the way of my learning the GYROTONIC® method and having an authentic experience of the GYROTONIC® system.
Mike: Any Gyrotonic instructor you ever meet will tell you, one of the most common questions you'll ever get asked in your career is "What's the difference between Gyrotonic training and pilates?". And if you don't do pilates, like me, it's kind of a tough thing to answer. so I always tell them "You should ask someone who does both." Angela does both so she's a perfect person to ask. And you don't even like that question.
Angela: I don't even like that question because I feel like it compromises both systems when you try to compare them. And yet the first thing people will say when they're talking about Gyrotonic training is "Well, it's like pilates." And that's just a frame of reference because, yes, it's an exercise system, it's a full body exercise system.
Mike: It's got unique equipment.
Angela: It's got unique equipment, yes. It both strengthens and stretches. It's good for posture. It's good for core. You work through the spine. Even today I have people come into my Gyrotonic studio and say "Oh, you teach pilates, right?" To the public, it's a frame of reference. But really, it's like comparing oranges and tomatoes. Yes, both are from the produce department of the grocery store. But just like you couldn't make pasta sauce out of oranges, you can't really do Gyrotonic exercises like you do pilates. They're a completely different paradigm.
So I really encourage people to speak about it in that way. That it's not based on pilates, that it never has been and it never will be.
If you look at the genesis of the Gyrotonic system and we go back to the creator of GYROTONIC® methodology, Juliu Horvath, and his creation of it, which took place.on the island of St. Thomas, where he meditated on the movement of nature and the movement of water and the movement of wind, and the movement of the trees and the movement of fish and the movement of the birds, which is why in Gyrotonic training we have the ocean breath, we have the wave movement, we have dolphin...
Mike: We have eagle
Angela: Right. And so it makes much more sense to walk into a Gyrotonic training session and think of images like the sound of the wind when you're breathing instead of doing GYROTONIC® exercises with a pilates breath.
Mike: I've done a couple of privates in pilates and taken a few of the mat classes, but that's about it. My experience of it is limited. So I can't answer that question well, or when someone comes to me and they want to try to compare it, I'm generally "Sure... I can't really help you." But I like what you said about how it's like comparing tomatoes and oranges. That's an awesome way of describing it to somebody. Forget the apples and oranges thing, that's even too close.
Angela: Exactly. It's like looking for quiche in Italy. You're not gonna find it! Just let yourself have an open, fresh experience of the movement. Gyrotonic training is based on natural movement, so just letting the movement of natural breathing move the spine, and let it flow, it's intended to affect the energetic systems and the fascia systems of the body that are completely networked through the entire body.
Yes, there are similarities, but they are completely different.
Mike: So don't compare. Just do it! Do whatever you want, but don't compare them. There's no need.
So has Angela piqued your interest in Gyrotonic training and pilates even further?
Well next time you're down in southern Florida, head over to GYROTONIC® Coral Gables and book yourself an appointment with this excellent and highly experienced Master Trainer in BOTH systems.
And if you're in Maui, come visit me!
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