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Q & A with Sandie Wilson about Gyrotonic® Pilates

From: Personal Pilates,

Q & A with Sandie Wilson about Gyrotonic® Pilates

1.Can you explain a bit about the Gyrotonic System and how it works?

The gyrotonic method allows users to stretch and strengthen muscles, while simultaneously stimulating and strengthening connective tissues in and around the joints of the body. These exercises are synchronized with corresponding breathing patterns, thus enhancing aerobic and cardiovascular stimulation and promoting neuro-muscular rejuvenation.

2.Who developed the system?

The method was created by Juliu Horvath. He designed and produced the equipment as well as the exercises after many years of intense study and self-exploration. He was a dancer and suffered chronic back pain as well as shoulder and other joint issues.

3.What are the benefits of using the Gyrotonic Expansion System over mat pilates?

Gyrotonic® and pilates mat work are poles apart. Perhaps it is more easily to comparable to Gyrokinesis® which is another methodology created by Juilu Horvath.

4.Should the two disciplines be combined?

No they should be taught as completely different methodologies. However, some of my Pilates clients are keen to try out gyrotonic and I will let them have a go on the hamstring series or handle unit just to satisfy their curiosity and if they like it, I encourage them to mix up their sessions between the different methodologies.

5.What can you expect from a 60min class?

The circling, spiraling and undulating movements that characterise the Gyrotonic Expansion System® help to increase the functional capacity of the spine, contributing to a spherical and three dimensional awareness, resulting in increased equilibrium. The client should feel both energised, relaxed, stretched and de stressed!

6.In what way can the Gyrontonic Expansion System help the body and are there any particular conditions which it can ease/help with?

It can help the body in many ways. It can be used to alleviate many conditions such as scoliosis, spondylitis, arthritic conditions. It can be used in pre and post natal work and for increased performance of athletes, dancers and the general public. In short it is a highly adaptable methodology which has boundless possibilities. Indeed, an Expansion System now exists for children.

7.As a former dancer you are clearly very supple and coordinated, are these attributes desirable when performing Pilates and if you do not have them can the body learn them?

Pilates, whilst now a generic term, is a unique methodology in its own right. It is often referred to as being more linear than gyrotonic® but this is not really the case given that we are three dimensional beings. Pilates adopts several important principles including, breathe, flow, concentration, co-ordination, relaxation etc. The desired affect is to challenge the muscles and to attain a long lean body which is able to work with a Balanced Bone posture. This in turn helps to release the sometimes overworked mover muscles and enables the core muscle do what they should ie support the skeleton in action and in rest.

8.Is there a particular age that people start and is it recommended for both men and women?

Pilates can be started at a very young age and can indeed be taught to children. However, most call for the method arises in adulthood when poor postural habits and repetitive strain injuries begin to surface as a result of bad alignment. It is ideal for both men and women can provide a highly challenging powerful workout as well as rehabilitation. My studio has a high ratio of male clients and I enjoy working with a very mixed level of students to keep both myself and them on their toes!

9.Can the Gyrotonic Expansion System be used on your own or must a trainer be on hand?

Initially, you must of course learn the method with a trainer. It can then be taken in a practise session where the client comes to the studio and works on the repertoire already learnt, but only once the teacher has agreed that the student has reached the correct level of competence in the method.

10.How often would you advise practising?

At least once a week and if possible twice. Gyrotonic® can be topped up with Gyrokinesis(S) and Pilates studio work can be topped up with matwork sessions. I would advise that you continue with private or semi private sessions in order to ensure your ongoing personal development.

11.What do you wear to train in?

Anything comfortable from t shirt and jogging bottoms to leotard and tights. Men are advised to wear cycle shorts if working in loose shorts too. Please bring socks no shoes required.

12.How did you first become involved with this method of pilates? I first encountered Pilates with Doug Elkins Dance Company in New York. I then took lots of Floore Barre work which was pretty similar and eventually trained with Alan Herdman. Since then I have carried on my own ongoing personal development in the method and work often with other leading practitioners.

13.Where does your passion for the discipline come from?

I love nothing more than to move with freedom and joy. Dancing has always been a very great passion of mine. I learned to ice skate when I was two years old and was a gymnast until I moved to London to study dance. I love spherical awareness and the joy of improvisation in movement methodologies such as Skinner Releasing. Lets just say, I need a lot more space to answer this question. In short, non verbal communication is the basis of our most primitive interaction with our fellow men and indeed other living beings!

14.What other projects are you involved in?

I am currently looking into running a pilates and gyrokinesis retreat, one in Italy and the other in Austria. There will be more details available on my website shortly. Personal Pilates will be running a gyrokinesis intensive course too. Again, details to be released in the near future.

15.How are you able to assess how good an instructor is? What qualifications (ongoing training etc) should one look for and how can you tell if they're certified and have insurance?

You should look for a Pilates Foundation teacher or one with a sound knowledge of Body Mind Institute work or a well versed Stott teacher who has covered all the main equipment to a minimum of advanced level. All Pilates Foundation teachers have to have insurance in order to be members. If in doubt ask the instructor concerned directly who they are covered by and for what methodologies.

16.Further reading material or recommended websites?

Personal Pilates Pilates Foundation Gyrotonic

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Sandie graduated from the Laban Centre for Movement and Dance in 1982. Since then she has worked extensively as a professional dancer, choreographer, teacher and lecturer.

She initially trained as a Pilates Instructor with Alan Herdman following her interest in floor Barre work which she encountered in New York. After teaching in various studios and leading matwork classes, she decided to focus on the one to one aspect of Pilates and opened her own private studio in 1998. Since then she has taught the method extensively, creating her own approach to the method by drawing on influences from her dance experience. An ongoing fascination with three dimensional movement and energy patterns then led very naturally to her incorporating the use of the GYROTONIC® Pulley System into her studio. Her Master trainer in this method is Michelle Cross and her competence in the method is regulated by Julio Horvath.

As a committed professional, Sandie collaborates with leading osteopaths, physiotherapists and other health professionals taking an interest in nutrition and all aspects of health. She is a member of Equity and the Pilates Foundation UK Ltd.

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