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Aerobic Belly Dancing to Zumba

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Above Cari’s Hair Care Salon in Hailey is what looks like an ancient medieval torture device. In fact, it’s anything but. It was developed as a healing device and is the latest exercise routine in Hollywood practiced by the likes of Madonna, Julianne Moore and even prima ballerina Alessandra Ferri to keep their joints supple and their muscles long and strong.

At the Pure Body Pilates studio, there’s a bench in the middle of the device to lie or sit on, a 7-foot tower with stirrups dangling from it at one end of the bench, and two round handle units at the other end to place your hands on to stretch while moving it in circles. All the parts in this pulley system have weights which can be increased or decreased before you stretch out your feet or hands to pull or push. The smooth arching and curling movements are directed by your own personal instructor, in this case Denise de Lisser, who will design the moves to your particular body needs (which makes this a little more expensive than group classes).

Inspired by Pilates, swimming and yoga, gyrotonics was created by Juliu Horvath, a Hungarian dancer who designed the system to heal his injured Achilles heel. It continues to be used for people with injuries as well as those who just want to improve their flexibility, joint mobility and muscle strength.

Like Pilates, it concentrates on “having core stability, but it’s also about spinal flexion,” says de Lisser. The difference between this and other exercise routines is that “all the movements are done circularly or spherically. Gyro is a more three-dimensional movement study—moving arms, legs and body in every different direction.” Unlike biking or walking, which is more lateral, two-dimensional and staccato, gyrotonics uses the “full range of motion of your hip joints and shoulder joints in a smoother, slower quality of movement.”

“As we age, all the joints in our bodies compress, causing stiffness and sometimes pain. Elongating the spine helps us age more gracefully and decompress after demanding sports. When your core is strong, the body is supported and there is less chance of injury,” continues de Lisser, who was certified by Horvath himself. “It’s great for injury prevention. The whole point of gyrotonics is to be able to go out into what you do in your real life. It benefits anything from picking up your laundry to skate skiing. You’re prepping your body for other activities. When you combine abdominal strength with flexibility in the back you have a pretty healthy person.” >>>

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