Pilates vs. GYROTONIC EXPANSION SYSTEM®

Chances are, you know a lot about Pi

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lates. Chances are you do not know a lot about GYROTONIC EXPANSION SYSTEM®. GYROTONIC® is a relatively new fitness system (late 1970’s) touted by the likes of Madonna, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Jennifer Anniston. But despite its celebrity buzz, you still may not know much about it.

At first glance, GYROTONIC® bears some resemblance to Pilates. They both build strength and flexibility. They both have equipment and non-equipment based exercises. Just as Joe Pilates inspiration came out of his own childhood rickets and asthma, Romanian-born dancer Juliu Horvath devised the GYROTONIC EXPANSION SYSTEM® to help rehabilitate his back and Achilles tendon injuries. Both methods are a culmination of other exercise philosophies, as well as, innovations in movement and the healing arts. With Pilates it is reflexology during footwork and the use of movement to “massage” the internal organs, where in Julius’ work, he draws upon the acupuncture meridians and QiQong.

Other similarities include focus on the body’s core, use of system-specific equipment, joint range of motion and emphasis on the breath. But how each of these areas is approached is what truly differentiates these systems. From a dance perspective, Pilates would be compared to ballet, as GYROTONIC EXPANSION SYSTEM® is likened to modern dance.

Where Pilates is more linear in terms of range of movement and mostly done lying down, GYROTONIC® is more three-dimensional and generally done seated. In terms of where the movements originate from, Pilates’ “Powerhouse” is a musculature-oriented, where GYROTONIC® s’ “Center” incorporates musculature, as well as, skeletal orientation with the hands, feet, arms, legs, ribcage and pelvis assisting in the exercises. In general terms, Pilates focuses on stabilization, GYROTONIC® focuses on mobility.

In regards to equipment, Pilates uses springs, where GYROTONIC® uses Pulleys and weights. Both men designed many different pieces of equipment to assist with the foundation of their work, that being matwork in Pilates and GYROKINESIS® in Julius’s system. Breathing is an important part of both. Pilates’ approach is of an “internal shower” and Juliu incorporates three distinct breathing patterns to match different tempos of his movement.

Both systems have proven healing properties with Pilates increasingly accepted by the U.S. medical and rehabilitiaon communities and GYROTONIC EXPANSION SYSTEM® being heralded in Europe for orthopedic injury recovery. One obvious difference which you have seen through out this article is Juliu’s trademark and codification of his work. This guarantees his interpretation will be protected for future generations.

As with anything, my clients’ response to GYROTONIC EXPANSION SYSTEM® has been mixed. Some personalities lend themselves better to one method over the other. But for the most part, the approach of using it as cross-training has been good. All my clients find moving three-dimensionally to be a challenge.

From a teaching perspective, I have enjoyed the freedom Juliu gives his teachers with respect to how his work is taught. It is also exciting to be here while Juliu continues to evolve his work, always seeing the layers and possibilities as he continually tweaks his system. Just as I have found in Pilates, the more I practice the work the more insight I get. I have found the experience has made me a better teacher of Pilates, but more importantly, a better teacher of movement.

GYROTONIC®, GYROTONIC® & Logo, GYROTONIC EXPANSION SYSTEM® and GYROKINESIS® are registered trademarks of Gyrotonic Sales Corp and are used with their permission.

By · Posted on February 3, 2009 · Topic Product Reviews

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26 Responses to “Pilates vs. GYROTONIC EXPANSION SYSTEM®”

  1. Karen Mirlenbrink Karen Mirlenbrink on February 3rd, 2009 7:54 pm

    Great article Deborah!

  2. Jean Leavenworth on February 4th, 2009 10:06 am

    Hi Deborah-
    Thanks for the wonderful article. I have loved every gyrotonics session I have ever taken! I just wish the certification and training process was more designed for people who work for a living! I just can’t afford to take weeks off at a time to do the training…

  3. Deborah McKeever-Watson Deborah McKeever Watson on February 4th, 2009 11:20 am

    Karen and Jean,
    Thanks for the feedback. I also have had found the training schedule to be a challenge, but am so glad I did it!

  4. Melissa Turnock on February 4th, 2009 10:38 pm

    Does anyone know who provides certification in Australia? We are very interested but a visit to the US is a stretch for some of us. Thank you.

  5. GYROTONIC EXPANSION SYSTEM® | Pilates Scene on February 9th, 2009 4:24 am

    […] equipment would be I imagine. So I don’t think it has taken off in Australia quite yet. This article is a useful comparison between Pilates […]

  6. Wendy Brindley on March 24th, 2009 9:17 pm

    In answer to Melissa’s question re: Gyrotonic – it is available in Australia. If you go to the Energy Kinetics website, all the details are listed there – see the advertisment in this newsletter.
    http://www.energykinetics.com.au

  7. Carole Amend on March 30th, 2009 11:34 am

    Deborah, I liked hearing about your personal insights on how clients respond and your relation to it as a teacher of it. I made a brief post on the Anatomy Trains forum, if anyone would like to read that as well.
    http://www.anatomytrains.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=46

  8. Deborah McKeever-Watson Deborah McKeever Watson on April 1st, 2009 1:44 pm

    Carole,
    Thanks again for your comments. I went to the website and I am not sure which reponse you wrote, but it was all good.

  9. Dominique Rohan on April 4th, 2009 12:38 am

    Hi all, I trained in GYROTONIC (R) here in Sydney, Australia. I trained in Pilates in 2001 and then in GYROTONIC (R) in 2006. I loved your article Deborah, and it is always fantastic to hear how other teachers find the differences between the 2 disciplines. For my clients, initially I feel they enjoy the work more if they have had some ‘body awareness’ or ‘movement’ experience prior to their first sessions – with say dance, yoga or even some sports. If they have been a Pilates client first and then ‘tried’ this GYRO thing, they also love the deviation from the ‘linear’ work that can dominate in Pilates.
    For me, and my body, I loved the GYROTONIC (R) work as soon as I got on the machine and felt that this was what my body had craved for a long time. I also felt it furthered my strength – core and global – so that I could then return to Pilates and embrace the more advanced repertoire of the classical work.
    As a teacher, it has given me more scope to help my clients achieve their goals. As we all know, every client is a completely different case and having the 2 forms of exercise to chose from allows the teacher much more freedom.
    And GYROTONIC (R) has definitely lifted my bum! :)

  10. Deborah McKeever-Watson Deborah McKeever Watson on April 4th, 2009 9:34 pm

    Dominique,
    Thanks for the feedback. I agree about the body awareness, although I do start from the beginning with most clients. I think it is because of the rocking of the pelvis and the balancing of the arch/curl. I do enjoy the contrast it gives to my Pilates practice.

  11. Jana Victoria on April 6th, 2009 9:07 pm

    I can’t believe how much innovation pilates has achieved after so many years. Great post by the way. :)

  12. antonio orlando on July 16th, 2009 4:36 pm

    I beleve that Girotonic practise is a perfect armony terapy for the body and for the mind. I’ma dance teacher and I need a Machine Girotonic for to resolve the bodys problems of my student. For to obtain a good result at the and of study course.
    Can you help me, please? I find a Machine to buy in Europe. Thanks Antonio Orlando – Lecce – (suth Italy)
    tel. 00393293913299

  13. Deborah McKeever-Watson Deborah McKeever Watson on July 21st, 2009 9:19 am

    Antonio,
    Try calling Gyrotonic headquarters. 1.570.828.0003. Ask for Marty. Hope this is of help.

  14. Lisa Mathison-Wood on November 24th, 2009 11:14 pm

    Hello Deborah,

    Thank you for the great article.

    I am a certified GYROTONIC® Master Trainer here in Sydney and have been working
    closely with Juliu since 2000.
    If any one is interested in teacher training we have two Teacher trainers here in Australia.
    Dana Rader in Melbourne and myself in Sydney.

    The next teacher training will be over 4 consecutive weekends Feb/March2010. Suitable
    for people unable to take a huge chunk of time out of their regular schedule.

    Just recently I was in Japan with Juliu where he was teaching a breathing workshop.
    The man is a genius.

    I agree with you Deborah the teacher training does make for a better all round movement teacher.

    Lisa Mathison-Wood
    lisamathison@yahoo.com

  15. Jeannie Regan on April 22nd, 2012 10:26 am

    Is Gyrotonic therapy covered by any insurance companies in Canda? Am about to begin for osteoporosis problems and ws wondering. Thanks.

  16. Deborah McKeever-Watson Deborah Watson on May 18th, 2012 6:47 am

    Hi Jeannie
    I am not familiar with Canadian health care but you maybe a pioneer in finding out….best person to ask is your instructor ….have a good weekend

  17. Gyrotonic expansion | Allsolution on September 17th, 2012 5:35 pm

    […] Pilates vs. GYROTONIC EXPANSION SYSTEM | Pilates DigestFeb 3, 2009 … Chances are, you know a lot about Pilates. Chances are you do not know a lot about GYROTONIC EXPANSION SYSTEM® […]

  18. Ariel Zander on October 2nd, 2012 10:21 pm

    Great article!
    I have been researching gyrotonic training. It will take some time and money of course, but I could not be in a better position to do it.
    I plan to take 10-20 private classes before I enroll in pre-training. I realize what steps need to be taken to achieve certification. But There is no specification if you have to take pre-training and the foundations course at the same facility. Can I take pre-training in one area and the foundations in another area?
    I have family in Kansas City, Missouri and they have a pre-trainer there, but the foundations course is not offered so I would need to go to another state such as houston, texas.
    I live in Louisiana, so I am factoring in living expenses since everything will be out of state.
    But if it is recommended to do both in the same facility, I will.
    Any info is greatly appreciated :)

  19. lisa Mathison-Wood on November 3rd, 2012 8:03 pm

    Hello Ariel,

    After your pre-tarining you can choose any studio offering a GYROTONIC® foundation training.
    The maximum time between a pre-training and a foundation training is 12 weeks. It
    is always best to line them up together.
    Sometimes if the facility where the pre training is being held has enough interest from people
    in the area but they are not a Master trainer themselves they can bring a master Trainer to their
    facility to teach the course.
    good luck,
    lisa

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  25. Is GYROTONIC® similar to Pilates? - laura barbee on October 8th, 2014 1:39 pm

    […] McKeever-Watson (a certified GYROTONIC® trainer AND Pilates Instructor) wrote a great article for Pilates Digest highlighting both method’s similarities and differences. If you were ever […]

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