Gyrotonic Bohdi, 3200 Valmont Road, Unit 4, Boulder, 347-693-4408, gyrotonicbodhi.com
Instructor: Jennifer DePalo-Peterson, of Broomfield, a Gyrotonic and Gyrokinesis instructor of 20 years. She trained directly with the founder of the method.
DePalo-Peterson is also a professional dancer. She was a principal dancer with the esteemed Martha Graham Dance Company for 18 years. She now dances with 3rd Law Dance and is a faculty member at Colorado Ballet Academy.
She also ran a Gyrotonic studio in New York for 12 years.
She opened Gyrotonic Bohdi on Nov. 30 after moving to Boulder to raise her two kids here.
She says she first learned about Gyrotonic when she was 21, from a professional dancer she admired.
"I made an appointment for the next day, and it changed my entire life. I was never injured. My dancing changed. I felt different after Gyrotonic, and then I knew I wanted to teach it to pass it on," DePalo-Peterson says. "It completely opened my body and my mind and my thoughts."
What is the workout? A method of movement designed to simultaneously lengthen and strengthen muscles, as well as improve circulation, coordination and joint mobility.
Some say it fuses some principles of yoga, tai chi, swimming and dance.
Movements are made up of repeating circular, spiraling, 3-D flows that you coordinate with your breath.
The method is done on a special piece of equipment called the Pulley Tower Combination Unit, which has adjustable pieces to guide, support and challenge (through resistance) students in different exercises. It is built to encourage a full range of 3-D, functional motion of the joints, with no stops and starts (where most injuries happen).
There is no compression or impact.
"It completely decompresses your spine," says DePalo-Peterson. "You use a contrasting force, stabilization through oppositional forces, to connect from the insertion of the muscles — not superficial places, but the deeper roots of your muscles, where they connect to the bone."
She says the class will mobilize your spine, stimulate your organs and systems, make fascia more pliable — "like a massage, from the inside-out."
She says it also incorporates the nervous system, which is why it is effective for people with neurological issues, such as Parkinson's.
What's different? Unlike yoga and many other workouts, Gyrotonic has an emphasis on spiraling and rotation, with no end point. Although the Pilates Tower may look similar to an outsider, with a bench and looped bands for your hands and feet, the use is really different.
"Gyrotonic works on all of the systems of the body at the same time. You're working the nervous system to your bones into the muscle, cardio, balance," DePalo-Peterson says. "It's a system that is realigning the body to be in upright, at home and harmonious in yourself."
Gyrotonic is much more than just stretching.
Cost: The studio offers two to three free classes a month to try or for people who can't afford to pay.
But even the drop-in classes are affordable: $10 for artists, students and people who need a sliding scale or $15 for others.
Once you know the techniques, you can buy a 24/7 membership to the studio to use the equipment for $33 a month.
"It's so important to do the work," DePalo-Peterson says. "That's what I wanted to change. People couldn't afford it. ... I want people to come and do what's good for them and heal themselves."
Level: All levels, ages and abilities. Participants range from elite athletes to dancers to people with Parkinson's, yogis, CrossFitters, climbers, skiers, cyclists, people in wheelchairs, people with muscular sclerosis, people with scoliosis, and kids. My class had a 12-year-old, and DePalo-Peterson says a 101-year-old attends weekly.
Still, because it tapped into deep muscles in new ways, I found the class an exciting challenge. It was harder than I expected but never painful; it somehow felt great, while my muscles were shaking. I would rate it a seven on a 10-point-scale of difficulty, although it could be easily increased or decreased.
"Most important is you become pain-free, because you decompress," DePalo-Peterson says.
The studio has nine different Towers, which limits the class size.
When: Regular classes are offered two to five times a day (mostly in the morning) with more to come. Privates are by appointment.
Space is limited, so contact the studio to reserve a spot.
The studio also offers other Gyrotonic equipment and specialized equipment classes.
What to prepare: Wear comfortable clothes, no shoes, socks optional. Everything else is provided.
Muscles worked: You will mobilize your spine, stimulate your nervous system, hydrate the fascia, open up energetic pathways of the body and more.
I especially felt it in my hips. Later that day, they felt achy and slightly sore in an unusual way. DePalo-Peterson says that's because the alignment of my sacrum changed to align with my pubic bone, and I dropped my ribs from narrowing my pelvis — all while using deep, tiny, connecting muscles.
"You should feel a softness and ease, but strengthening in the places that need strength," DePalo-Peterson says.
What I loved: First, the spiraling felt so wonderful. Better than a massage. So I wanted to be there. It's rare to find a workout so effective that feels so good.
My core felt totally on after class, and my body felt connected. Best of all, five days later, that feeling had not left.
I am intrigued by the strengthening I felt in my deep hip muscles.
Based on how good my body felt after class, I expected sessions to cost $35 to $40. I am shocked these classes are so inexpensive. Shocked enough to immediately email my workout buddy and rally her to start going with me.
What I didn't like: Right now, there are only classes in the mornings, which may exclude some people, based on their schedules.
How I felt after the class: Tall, relaxed, wrung out. I was surprised to feel slightly sore as the day went on and for several days after. But I also felt calm and focused, and I noticed my posture was excellent all week.
If I can make the morning schedule work, you will see me here regularly off the clock. This is a new fave.
Aimee Heckel: twitter.com/Aimeemay