The GYROTONIC® Roadmap: Planning Your Progress

There is always a point, right about the 5- or 6-session mark, where new regular clients suddenly get really curious about where they can go from here. Having experienced a consistent, subtle unravelling of their bodies, they come to understand the potential of the work. They want to want to know how best to maximize it. Their goals may shift. What’s the plan?

That’s when I pull out the roadmap.

An approximation of the Gyrotonic exercises according to levels (called progressions). I sketched it quickly. Don’t hold me to the exact number.

You don’t really need to know the nitty gritty of the terminology to benefit from GYROTONIC®. Some clients just want to come in to move their bodies with no real plan for the future—and that’s okay! And I suppose this isn’t really a “roadmap”; it’s the potential for one, and we can fine tune your goals in person. But a general understanding of the GYROTONIC® terrain may be helpful in figuring out where you want to go.

The full repertoire of GYROTONIC® consists of seven “families” of exercises, each of which has a cluster of about 10 movements on the machine. The exercises in any cluster are divided into seven levels or what we call progressions.

Progressions aren’t necessarily based on how easy or hard the moves are (though there’s some truth to that); later exercises might in fact feel easier for some clients and be better suited for their particular issues. If you’ve been with me for 5 or 6 sessions, I’ve likely pulled an exercise from Progression 3 or 4 on your legs and you didn’t even know it.

Progressions are designed to open up the body and to build strength and mobility strategically. Exercises from later progressions build upon those from earlier progressions, typically opening up your hips or shoulders further, deepening your twists, or challenging your trunk stabilization. In some cases, you do need the basic strength and mobility to progress to particular exercises; I have never moved anyone immediately into Progression 7 abdominal work.

All my new clients start off with exercises from Progression 1 and 2. I don’t necessarily use that terminology in the first few sessions—not until the roadmap gets pulled out.  Usually by that point clients have experienced a good handful of exercises from these progressions, but not all of them. Typically, we’ve instead refined some of the moves on the upper body (arch & curl and “halos”) and lower body (single leg pump, or “the checkmark” as my son likes to call it) rather than sample from the full seven families.

When I pull out the roadmap, it’s usually with intention of recommending not only that we ‘sample’ from the full seven families but complete them all to basic proficiency! Getting to you to the point where you can come in, execute all exercises at progression 1 and 2 in a single session, back to back is powerful. It’s a full-body experience. You will walk out of the studio feeling accomplished, limber, more in command of your entire body, and have a strong sense of postural uprightness.

How long it takes to complete Progression 1 and 2 depends on a few factors: your sense of readiness, general fitness level, stress levels, ability to commit (or not : ) to some of the “homework” moves, how much you like to talk during sessions, how technical you like your instruction, and so on.

We can also emphasize upper body or lower body work by pulling a few exercises from progression 3 and 4, too. But, as you’ll quickly find, sometimes the shoulders benefit more by stabilizing the lower trunk (so that the shoulders and arms stop gripping so much) or the hips benefit from upper trunk work. In general, I recommend the full body approach, which is how the body wants to move: as a full unit.  Progression 1 and 2 provide the foundation. Later progressions refine and optimize it.