The GYROTONIC®Interview Series – Regaining Balance
In 2003 Gloria had just retired from a long career of teaching and coaching university athletics when she fell from her roof, resulting in a spinal cord injury that left her partially paralyzed.
It was almost ten years after her injury when Gloria started weekly Gyrotonic classes. A natural athlete since youth, maintaining an active lifestyle was extremely important to Gloria. When she first came in, Gloria had already re-learned to walk and was commendably able to get around on her own two feet, with the part-time aid of walking sticks.
Although she’d made significant progress since her injury, most of the muscles in her calves and feet were still not functioning when we started her sessions. The lack of support from her feet and calf muscles compromised Gloria’s balance, making it difficult for her to walk for long distances, or to stay on her feet in the shuffle of a moving crowd.
Her balance challenge was also keeping her from doing two activities she had taken for granted prior to her injury — cartwheels and handstands. Gloria had been a competitive university-level gymnast in her youth, and she was still beating her 29-year-old sons (also accomplished gymnasts) at handstand competitions prior to her injury.
After a few Gyrotonic sessions, muscles in Gloria’s feet, which had not functioned for a decade, began to fire. As our sessions continued, small, sporadic flickers of contractions slowly evolved into consistent, strong, coordinated muscle functioning. Gradually, her previously atrophied calf muscles began to slowly regain tone and function.
The Gyrotonic equipment provided a unique kind of support: feedback that allowed Gloria to rediscover connections that had been lost. After a year, she was moving through Gyrotonic exercise sequences with strength and agility. Her movement patterns were once more reflecting the grace and power that were so deeply patterned in her nervous system from years of athletic training. The most exciting thing to see was how the fire in her eyes started burning a little brighter as she felt her body waking up and responding to her requests for movement.
Two years after beginning regular Gyrotonic sessions, Gloria is still steadily improving. She continues to experience new and improved functioning every week, which is both exciting and remarkable.
Today she can go on long hikes and hold her own in a crowd. So now we’re working toward some more ambitious goals, namely cartwheels and handstands!
Sarah Simpson is a GYROTONIC® Trainer, GYROKINESIS® Pre-Trainer, and the Educational Assistant to Juliu Horvath.