sport 360

sport 360 – june 2013 – gyrotonic session at the hundred pilates is…a muscle opener

If there’s one studio that isn’t afraid to push the envelope when it comes to Pilates practice, it’s The Hundred Pilates in Dubai, recently awarded ‘Best Health and Fitness Facility’ in our inaugural SPIA Awards in March.

Their intimate and insightful mat-based classes may be popular and highly regarded, but it is their thirst for knowledge and willingness to open their arms to various other equipment-based practices that keeps me knocking… what can I say, I get bored easily.

Having already gained popularity for offering classes with the Pilates Chair, Cadillac, Reformer and Pole, I am not surprised that they are the first in the UAE to take on board the highly intuitive GYROTONIC Expansion System, developed by Hungarian professional dancer Juliu Horvath, and now being taught at The Hundred by Sara Simmons.

It’s often compared to Pilates practice, but really is more multidimensional utilizing principles from yoga, dance, gymnastics, swimming and tai-chi.

The design of the intimidating looking equipment supports the full and natural range of motion of the joints, allowing for three dimensional, functional movement, and therefore eliminating the sharps starts and stops where most injury occurs.

The pulley tower – with its cables, straps and rotating handles – helps guide your body into practically any position and provides smooth, even support and resistance, and a deep stretch that will make you purr.

Built around the shape of the human body, the machine can be customized to fit the individual proportions and movement capacities of each user, and users vary from golfers to geriatrics, to those seeking physiotherapy. It’s really gentle and all-encompassing and yet, at the same time, can offer a gruelling cardio and resistance workout.

My taster session was an eye opener – or should I say a spine and muscle opener –and started with a fluid spine curving/arching and abdominal contracting/expanding movement as I turned (or stirred) the handles (which sit atop moveable discs) on the end of the bench in outward and inward circles.

This moved my spine through its entire range of motion, which I realised is far more generous that I thought!

It felt almost like a self massage, the degree at which it activated my back muscles, and it also really worked every single muscle in the arm shockingly well.

To tackle legs, straps were placed on feet as we lay back on the bench and did flowing and gentle butterfly kicks to fire up the upper hamstrings just under the butt.

As expected, more complicated leg exercises followed, like from leg kicks, and mermaid-esque kicks where we raised the pelvis up off the bench slightly to make an ‘S’ curve and send a wiggle down the body, also activating the core.

Many outward and inward circling legs later, my co-ordination was thoroughly tested as Sara added on extras like alternating legs with flexed or pointed toes…always reminding me to breath into the movements.

Snapping her fingers, she picked up the pace as my limbs flailed, reminding my military-like ballet lessons as a teenager.

Seated and facing the tower, my hands were then strapped in and we practiced twisting and spiraling my arms one at a time and then together; exercises which highlighted how tense I am in the shoulders –in Sara’s words, I was practically wearing them as earrings.

All within an hour, I had swum, done ballet, yoga, gymnastics, even technically received a posture master class…this miracle machine really is all-encompassing.

I left The Hundred’s gorgeous, cosy little studio feeling at least two inches taller as Sara had opened up my spine to a length I don’t believe it had ever been, in part thanks to hunching over a computer all night, I’m sure.

The GYROTONIC session also made me aware of so many more muscles and muscle groups I had no idea were there, and newcomers are bound to feel a bit of soreness in places they almost never work. But to tap the untapped in the body could only be a good thing, right?

In fact, I’d say if you want a crash course in the anatomy of your body and are looking to have a direct conversation with it, give The Hundred a call.

I recommend everyone from athletes and dancers to office workers and the elderly try GYROTONIC. Even better, sample Sara’s soon-to-come GYROKINESIS classes too –a method based on the former but without the equipment.

What: GYROTONIC classes

Where: The Hundred Pilates, Dubai Healthcare City, Oud Metha

When: Schedule may vary over the summer, so best to register your interest to the team

Cost: Dh310 for one-on-one

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