Jackson Kellogg on the new GYROTONIC® Archway Courses
Interviews // August 12, 2014
In the late spring of 2014, 48 Gyrotonic Archway Master Trainers, from every corner of the globe, gathered at Miami Beach GYROTONIC®, in Miami Beach, FL, USA for Juliu Horvath’s introduction of the new Gyrotonic Level 1 and Level 2 Archway courses. These courageous souls made their way through an 8-day long gauntlet of highly challenging strength and agility sequences that make up the new Archway Level 1, and Level 2 courses.
The Archway program was previously taught as one course. But, with the addition of many completely new and advanced exercises, Juliu saw the need to divide the program into the two new courses. During the three months leading up to the courses, Gyrotonic Master Trainers Gina Muensterkoetter and Jackson Kellogg spent 5-6 days every week assisting Juliu as he created the new sequences.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Jackson recently. He offered the following insight into the new course material and the experience of working closely with Juliu and Gina in the months prior to the introduction of the new courses.
Sarah: How would you describe the Archway material fitting into the larger Gyrotonic Expansion System?
Jackson: I think the Archway fits in as a knitting together piece, and a strengthening piece. It’s where you start to work with your own body weight instead of external resistance. I’d say it’s the power piece of the equipment line.
For instance, in the arch and curl exercise sequences, the handle unit supports the upper body. In the hamstring sequences, the upper straps support the lower body.
The Jumping Stretching Board also provides support, but in an environment that is less stable, in an environment that is sliding and moving all of the time. This allows you to go deeper, and to ease the body into greater ranges of motion safely and effectively.
The Leg Extension Unit is more about strengthening. On the Leg Extension Unit, there is an outside force coming in toward the body, and you’re learning how to expand into that kind of resistance.
The Archway exercises take you into a place where the equipment is no longer supporting you. On the Archway you’re required to figure out how to support yourself against gravity. In this situation you have to manifest the Gyrotonic principle of expansion with all of your body weight to deal with — and without — any support.
In this way, the Archway sequences are a culmination of the lessons on the other equipment, in terms of really meeting the body’s potential to live the principles of the Gyrotonic Method within your body.
One of the most important things we are doing as teachers of the Gyrotonic Method is increasing the awareness of how to expand through movement, no matter what situation or environment you find yourself in.
The ideal scenario is for someone to have an experience on each of these pieces of equipment to see how different doing a basic spinal motion, like arch and curl or spiraling, is when you’re on the tower, when you’re sliding, when you’re hanging, when you have to support your upper body weight, and when you’re working against resistance.
These are all very different environments. The way you’re reaching into gravity and your proprioception within the movements changes in each scenario.
Sarah: How does the work on the Archway complement or build on the Gyrokinesis formats and/or the exercise sequences on the other equipment?
Jackson: Practicing the Archway exercises dramatically changes the ease in doing the Gyrokinesis exercises, and the exercises on all of the other pieces of equipment, because of all of the strength that you can develop. It’s strength within the ability to create space, not just big muscles.
There is an extraordinary fusion of the Gyrokinesis material, especially the Gyrokinesis Level 2 material, in the new long chain sequences on the Archway. There are many places in those sequences where you see the Gyrokinesis exercises assisted with the chains. The chains provide a supportive environment in which to find the forces that are at work in the Gyrokinesis Level 2 material and to be able to execute some of the more challenging Gyrokinesis Level 2 exercises.
The times that I have done Gyrokinesis classes since spending all of this time on the Archway have been absolutely, profoundly different in terms of my ability to experience the Gyrokinesis principles — and to experience the expansion of space within my own body during a Gyrokinesis session.
Sarah: Who can benefit from the Archway sequences?
Jackson: The Archway is tremendous for creating flexibility. For those who have excess tightness in their bodies, the Archway allows them to hang into their body weight to loosen up. On the Archway, clients are able to use the strength required to hang on their own body weight to release deep tension.
The Archway is great for athletes who are looking for ways to increase the efficiency, and power of their movements.
Sarah: Some of our most avid Gyrotonic students are in their 50’s, and 60’s. Their primary goal is to stay fit and healthy so they can continue to maintain an active, independent lifestyle for years to come. Is the Archway beneficial for them?
Jackson: We tend to focus on all the benefits the Archway has for the elite athlete, but there are many preliminary exercises that are accessible to the average person.
The preliminary exercises in the hanging, climbing rungs, waterfall, and levitation sequences are really great. Those exercises let you get comfortable supporting your own body weight, which is an ability that is important to maintain as we age.
There are simple arch & curl exercises in hanging positions that can build a lot of strength, comfort and confidence in those students, allowing them to become comfortable in their bodies in a variety of environments.
Sarah: Why might a Trainer choose to take the Archway course?
Jackson: The Archway course is an ideal course for those trainers who want to take their own physicality to another level of strength — and to meet their own potential. It is also the ideal course for those trainers who are working with clients who want to take their physicality to another level. The Archway is especially useful for those trainers who focus on strength training with athletes.
Sarah: What was it like working on the development of the new Archway programs with Juliu? What did you learn during that process?
Jackson: There is no way to answer that question and really do it justice. It was such a gift and a tremendous experience to be able to wake up every day and spend the time with both Gina and Juliu. They took care of me with extraordinary love, care, attention, and appreciation.
I can honestly say that no day was the same with Juliu. There was a tremendous amount of variety in each of our Archway sessions. He himself did everything on the Archway that I did. He did all of the exercises, and watching him at the age of 72 with more power than I was able to muster was really humbling and really inspiring. It was a highlight of my own life to be able to be instructed by and be able to work so hands-on with Juliu.
It was also amazing to see just how tremendously creative he is, whether it’s cooking in the kitchen, gardening, drawing new equipment designs, or creating the exercises themselves.
Sarah: How has diving into the Archway exercises with Juliu so intensively for three months impacted your own development?
Jackson: It’s really developed an awareness and a depth to my breathing. The implementation of deep, active breathing patterns in the new courses gives you so much more power to accomplish the Archway exercises. But then when you’re practicing Gyrokinesis exercises, or on one of the other pieces of equipment, there’s a sense of ease in those movements that wasn’t there before.
That experience has made me aware of how therapeutic the other pieces of equipment are. There is a slow-ness and a depth to the breathing patterns that’s a significant part of the new Archway courses. Working with that kind of breathing, in combination with hanging with my own body weight, has added a whole new dimension and depth of strength to my overall movement experience. I feel better than I’ve ever felt in my life — by a lot!
Sarah: How has the Archway material changed with the introduction of the new courses? What’s new, different, and/or expanded on in comparison to the old course?
Jackson: There is a lot of material in the new Archway courses. Where as all of the Archway material was included in one course before, now it’s divided into two courses: Archway Level 1 and Archway Level 2.
Within both of the new courses, there’s a refinement of the previous exercises, and a refinement in the way the exercises are put together in progressive sequences.
There is a lot of new material, especially in the Level 1 course. The long chain sequences are an exciting addition to both courses. The exercises in those sequences tie in to some of the exercises in the Gyrokinesis courses, and tie into the exercise sequences on the Jumping Stretching Board, providing a profound, new awareness of the dynamics underlying some of those exercises.
Having the courses divided into Level 1 and Level 2, and adding the new exercises, really allows you the time and experiences needed to progress into the more challenging Archway sequences.
Sarah: What would you like to tell people about the new sequences with the long chains?
Jackson: One of the things that has been added with the new Archway courses is the exercise sequences with long chains. These sequences are added in the middle of the programs, and they really help to develop the strength needed for the exercises in the latter part each program. There is a lot of new material with the new long chain sequences. We have exercises in six or seven different relationships to gravity.
The chains offer support, but in an unstable environment, which is a tremendous dynamic for strengthening the body.
Sarah: Do you have any favorite Archway exercises, or favorite exercise sequences?
Jackson: That’s a good question. I have to say everything on the long chains is just fantastic. For people who are hyper-mobile, those sequences really connect the body in a very unique and powerful way. Those sequences go right into those places where more mobile people are weak, and they pull everything together.
Sarah: What Archway exercises do you find most challenging?
Jackson: The free arm, arch & curl exercises in the waterfall sequence, where you have to arch & curl with the weight of the arms overhead, were very hard for me. Those are some of the last exercises in the Level 2 program.
Sarah: Is there anything else you want to communicate to those who are interested in taking the Archway courses, and/or interested in incorporating the Archway into their Gyrotonic exercise sessions?
Jackson: I’d like people to know that while the Archway does have a lot to offer the advanced athlete, it is also has a lot to offer the average client. Because of the way both of the new courses are broken down into progressive sequences — starting with easier exercises and gradually progressing to more challenging ones — there is so much material in the Archway sequences that is accessible to almost everyone. I think trainers will find that these courses are more accessible for them to participate in — and that the new Archway material will also be more accessible to their clients.
In addition to being great for athletes, it is also great for those of us who fall on either extreme of being either really tight or hyper-mobile. It is a great piece of equipment for releasing restriction and for strengthening connection in the body too.
48 newly licensed Gyrotonic Specialized Master Trainers are now offering the new Gyrotonic Archway Level 1 and Level 2 Courses to licensed Gyrotonic Trainers worldwide.
Gyrotonic Trainers can search for courses by location at https://www.gyrotonic.com/teacher-training/. These are Gyrotonic continuing education courses and can be taken to fulfill the biennial continuing education requirement for Gyrotonic Trainers.
Public classes on the Gyrotonic Archway are offered in many Gyrotonic studios around the world. You can locate Gyrotonic studios in your area with our studio finder.
For more information about the Gyrotonic Archway, including dimensions, and purchasing information, go to https://www.gyrotonic.com/product/gyrotonic-archway/.
Sarah Simpson, GYROTONIC® Trainer and GYROKINESIS® Pre-Trainer
Educational Assistant to Juliu Horvath