A Conversation With Gina Muensterkoetter, Personal Assistant to Juliu Horvath
Interviews // October 18, 2016
By Cina Canada
I recently sat down with Gina Muensterkoetter, GYROTONIC® and GYROKINESIS® Master Trainer, and Personal Assistant to Juliu Horvath (creator and founder of the GYROTONIC EXPANSION SYSTEM®) at their home in Münstertal, Germany. Gina talks about the two methods that make up this system, the structure of the education, and her perspective on how the system came to be an international community of trainers.
CINA: Gina, it’s great to be here with you in Münstertal, Germany, where so many wonderful courses take place. I would like to start with the most basic question that everyone wants to know: “What is the Gyrotonic Expansion System?”
GINA: The Gyrotonic Expansion System, in a nutshell, can be described as a movement system that stimulates and increases the functional capacity of the entire body toward total harmony and organic unity. This is not a description that I have created. This is something that Juliu Horvath, the founder of the system is saying. This is one of the descriptions we use to explain, in a very short way, the system to our teachers as well as to our students and clients. It’s is a very condensed description and you need to look at some details to really understand what it means.
The first detail to look at is what it means to be a “movement” system versus an “exercise” system. In our understanding of the Gyrotonic Expansion System, we say “movement is life, life is movement.” That doesn’t apply only to this system. That is a universal law. Where there is movement, there is life. Where there is no movement, there is no life. You can see in the smallest possible living entity on this planet, which is basically a cell, that when the cell shows movement, it is usually the basic pattern for some kind of pulsation. As long as that movement pattern is still there, the cell is alive. No more movement pattern, no more life. If you really think about that, and how a cell is the smallest possible living unit and what all life is built from, then this also means for us as human beings that as long as our cells are moving, we are alive. Then the question is, how do we stimulate that?
To make a distinction, there is systematic, organic movement and there is linear exercising. What we are doing with this system is finding those movement patterns that support our life-movement patterns that go towards life. This is opposed to exercises that might drain us, or take life force out of us. That would be depleting because it takes life away from us. Exercises that does not contribute to the movement patterns that our cells and our bodies need to add life force are essentially, then, taking it away. This is one of the reasons people say the Gyrotonic Expansion System is an intelligent movement system. One might consider this part a bit more philosophical, or very general.
If you go into more specific detail about what distinguishes the Gyrotonic Expansion System from many other modalities, it is that the movement patterns we are using are all circular. Our entire life is a circle. Everything that is life is circular. The many structures that we have in our bodies are based on circles and spirals. We often use the pattern of figure eights in our movements. A lot of our basic movement patterns have intelligent relationships to the way our bodies are built on a structural level.
For example, if you look at the fascial pathways in our bodies, then you will see the figure eight patterns. Nowadays, in the world of osteopathy, they are coming more and more to the conclusion that even in our joints, the basic pattern, the really deep, underlying pattern of the functionality of our joints, is a figure eight pattern.
There is also the underlying principle of stimulating the energetic system of our body. If you are interested in looking in that direction you will very quickly come to the conclusion that the energetic patterns, the very basic life giving energetic patterns, are very often circular and spiraling.
Then, we talk about the functional capacity and what it means in the entire body. How is that possible? When we talk about the entire body we talk about the things we can touch — the anatomical structure like muscles, tendons, bones and the fascia (this is what Juliu calls the “spider web” in the body). All of these structures have a certain functional capacity. The Gyrotonic Expansion System is built in such a way that we systematically stimulate these structures towards a more healthy state, towards balance. Balance means health. Our goal is to balance all of these structures.
When we talk about functional capacity, we also go beyond that and talk about all of the internal organs like the lungs, the liver, the intestines and all of the other organs. These have micromovements. If they are going to function properly, they need to have micromovements. The way we move in this system, we support these micromovements towards balance and harmony, which means towards health.
This also applies to our circulatory system. If we talk about the pulmonary system, veins and arteries, or if we talk about our lymphatic system, all of these systems depend on specific movement and stimulation. They depend on us to move in such a way that there is stimulation for circulation, which is a step towards balance and health.
This also helps explain ideas when we talk about harmony and unity. Organic unity, in this case, means that the entire body, our entire system, goes towards balance and unity; our structure works together with everything else that defines us as human beings. Organic also goes beyond what we can touch. Being human does not only mean we are what we touch. For example, emotions are a big part of our lives. Our thought process is a big part of what determines our lives.
These ideas are why we choose the expression “organic unity,” because our goal is to stimulate the entire human being on all the levels of our existence — the parts we can touch and the parts we cannot touch. This is for those who are interested in approaches from the more energetic understanding of the human body. That is the very deep layer and underlying principle that allows us to really stimulate all levels of the human being. This energetic side of the body is also where Juliu Horvath’s understanding comes from and why this principle is systematically integrated in the Gyrotonic Expansion System.
CINA: How do you explain the two different methods that fall under the Gyrotonic Expansion System?
GINA: We have two different wings of this system. The term Gyrotonic is the headline for two parts of the system that are totally linked together. We have the part that is the “intelligent movement system,”which is just the movement without supporting equipment. This is the GYROKINESIS® Method.
Then, we have the part that uses equipment to support the actual movement. This is the GYROTONIC® Method. The equipment apparatuses are: the Pulley Tower, the Jumping Stretching Board, the Leg Extension Unit, the Archway, and the GYROTONER®.
These two methods, together, Juliu decided to call the Gyrotonic Expansion System. The principles and understanding come from the same source and are identical.
CINA: You have education programs set up around the world for people to be trained in the Gyrotonic Method and the Gyrokinesis Method. Tell me about these parts of the system and how they are structured.
GINA: Juliu always makes a point that learning only happens through experience, especially in a movement system. However, this might also be a universal principle. That’s the foundation for the education system. We want to make sure that the educational process for all of our student teachers allows them to get a lot of experience with the system — practical experience.
You first become your own teacher. In order to become your own teacher, you need to practice, practice and practice. So, our educational system includes a lot of practice hours. It turns out that it becomes almost a little bit old fashioned because nowadays there is a tendency, in this very technological age, that so-called knowledge can be accessed easily through all of the online technological options that are out there.
Juliu calls this “an accumulation of information.” He is very clear in that he does not consider this learning, or knowledge. So, the path that we follow centers around one having one’s own experiences, in his/her own body, to become her/his own teacher. These experiences will lead you to certain conclusions. These conclusions are what will eventually build up to what you can really consider knowledge.
CINA: Tell me how you’ve set up learning to be ongoing rather than a terminal certificate program.
GINA: I believe many of our certified trainers would agree when I say that starting education in the Gyrotonic Expansion System is basically the first step towards a life-long learning process, if the person is open to that.
Traditionally, all of the certified Gyrotonic Trainers started as clients, or customers in a studio. First, you are a client and experience the system. You draw your conclusions based on whatever wonderful things the system is doing for you. Then, the next step would be if you become interested in knowing how to offer these services to others. Therefore, we require that all students who start with this movement system need to have a certain amount of personal classes so that they can feel the system and experience it in their own bodies. To have this point of reference is important if someone wants to become a teacher.
If someone chooses to pursue being a teacher, we have a pre-trainer course that provides a whole set of information and experiences centered around practicing Gyrotonic or Gyrokinesis exercise sequences.
Then, we have the foundation course. This course is built in such a way that the students learn the tools necessary to become a teacher. That means, besides the actual knowledge and information about the movement system, they gain teaching skills like: verbal communication, communication through hands on queuing and how to systematically build a class.
After that, there is an apprenticeship period where student teachers are teaching in a studio. Also, part of this period is the supervised apprenticeship review. This means the student teacher gets together with a Master Trainer to review the material, again, with practice teaching and practical application, so that they can move deeper into the the level 1 material.
After finishing the apprenticeship, which is usually around 12 months of continued experience, and practice in their own bodies and practice teaching with their clients, they are ready to participate in the final certificate course. This is a three day course where the level 1 material is reviewed again, on a much deeper level. Because of the foundation that the student teachers create for themselves, they are ready to receive more information. That information is then integrated into their bodies and into their understanding of the system.
With this solid foundation, which is very, very important, the student teacher is now ready, and gains permission through our educational system, to continue on with more specialized education. This is our Continuing Education Course (CEC) program and is where the journey continues. We require that CEC hours are acquired every two years to refresh understanding, allow a teacher to specialize if they have a desire to do so and, as we say, “to keep the fire burning.”
I explain to student teachers that they should never forget why they started their Gyrotonic education in the first place. Sometimes, it’s almost hard to explain that with words. Sometimes, it’s more like a feeling, a gut feeling, than anything else. Whatever that feeling is, or was, it needs to be fed. Especially as teachers, we are usually on the side where we give so much that we forget about our own practice. Taking CEC allows us to take care of ourselves and be fed. That fire, that gut feeling, needs some nutrition to grow — to grow as a teacher, to grow as a person, and to allow the very often, very passionate teachers to get some food for their hearts and their souls.
CINA: All of these passionate teachers make up an amazing international community. Tell me more about that special family-like environment.
GINA: First of all, I want to point out that it is a pleasure to have this community. How is it possible that we’ve all created such a community? One important part of it is the good intention from the very source, to actually build a community. I can say that it was, and is still, the intention of the Founder, Juliu Horvath, not only to build a teaching system with classes. For him, it has always been the human factor, the human being behind the practice. I can say that that intention, of course, allowed for a community to build over the years. So, that’s one factor.
The other factor is the Gyrotonic Expansion System itself. There is a certain intensity when students share a course together, because it is beyond bones, flesh, tendons and all of that. It’s a very intense and often uplifting experience that students share with each other.
We also make a point in our education system to emphasize sharing. It is about a lot of respect-giving and taking. I’m sure that these factors play a big role so that at the end of a course you haven’t only shared time with another teacher who will teach the methodology, there is also a lot of personal exchange on the level of the human being. There is something that connects the students to each other. Sometimes, there are even true friendships that develop and last over many, many years. In essence, though, the students have a resonance with each other in such a way, that coming together makes them bigger than just one and one; it’s the feeling of contributing to something in life that is bigger than one’s self.
CINA: How did the community become so international?
GINA: I almost have to think about how that came to fruition. One of the roots that created the possibility for us to be so international is the fact that Juliu started his first Gyrotonic studio, called White Cloud Studio, in New York City. This city is a melting pot of people from all over the world. So, people from all over the world who were searching for something very special found Juliu there.
Also, Juliu gave many, many years of his life to traveling all around the world, even where there was not yet community. He personally educated the first generation of teachers in almost all of the countries that are now growing Gyrotonic communities. So, there were 15 years of traveling around the world, creating the first generation of students, continuing to nurture them, always being open to inviting students to continue with their education, supporting students and creating the roots of what has now become a community all over the world. Of course, there is a lot more potential to grow, but it is already quite international and very amazing.
CINA: Gina, thank you so much for your time and for sharing your insights. I am honored to be a part of this community!
Cina Canada is a GYROTONIC® Trainer and the Media Coordinator for GYROTONIC® International Headquarters.