Just when you think you've mastered the newest and latest form of exercise — aerobics, spinning, kickboxing, Tae-Bo, pilates — there's a new trend out there.
Living in Los Angeles, if you don't start participating in the latest craze, you won't be seeing your friends because they'll be meeting every Tuesday and Thursday to work out together and then go out. Pilates and then Luke's for drinks. Yoga followed by a tea at Elixir Cafe.
Well, get ready to start Gyrotonics. No, it's not a drink served at The Roosevelt Hotel. It's a form of exercise that involves pulleys and wooden beds and … well, they look like harnesses to me. But what do I know? I'm a runner. How boring!
Now, before I go any further, I should say that while the general public refers to it as Gyrotonics, it is actually called and patented The Gyrotonic Method. It's hailed as yoga for the 21st century and is a system of exercises that simultaneously strengthen and stretch the body, increase flexibility, mobility, balance and coordination.
So that you don't feel badly if you haven't heard of Gyrotonics, Joel Stein of The Los Angeles Times contends that "any form of exercise that was mentioned in the song 'Greased Lighting' has got to work."
When I met K.W. Miller and entered one of the three studios where he works — In-spiraling Movement Arts, located in West L.A. — I was, to say the least, a bit timid. I felt as if I had entered a medieval torture chamber. Naturally, when he invited me to try one of the machines, I put my feet in the stirrups and my head against a wooden plank, and … he laughed. Evidently, I wasn't doing it the right way — big surprise.
Lisa Marie Goodwin, owner of the studio in West L.A., is a master trainer of the Gyrotonic method and said of Miller, "His background as a dancer has gifted him with both intuitive body skills and compassion in treating injuries. K.W. seems to know just how to help a person understand how to execute the freedom of fluid movement in a connected way — one of the key principles of the Gyrotonic Expansion System."
More evidence that I was in way above my head, but also that the team at In-Spiraling Movement Arts makes one feel capable and comfortable in one's own skin.
Miller is a dancer and you can see it upon meeting him. He's lean and lithe and has a smile that melts you. Actually, he was performing in the Broadway national tour of "Wicked" when a serious injury ended that stint.
"I was doing choreography where I jump up and off a bench when a cast mate was tripped and fell below me, sprawled out with her chin catching the bench," Miller said. "I twisted as hard as I could in the air to keep from landing on her neck. She was rescued. I, on the other hand, suffered three major sprains to my right ankle, a stress fracture to my right tibia, a torn peroneal sheath, a up-slip of the right hip, severely strained inner thighs and an overstretched peroneal nerve on the right leg."
You have to have an M.D. to even begin to comprehend what this means. In more general terms, Miller was told he would never dance again. That is, until a top orthopedic surgeon suggested the Gyrotonic method. And guess what?
Miller can dance again. Just watch him on the machines. He was inspired by his own physical healing.
"Encouraged by the many trainers I studied with around the nation, I became a certified teacher myself," he said.