GYROTONIC® and GYROKINESIS® Movement In the Golden Years
Virginia Holte and Megan McLaren sat down for a discussion on a break during their Gyrokinesis Level 2 course in Münstertal, Germany. They shared their perspectives on being over 60 and involved in the GYROTONIC® Method and the GYROKINESIS® Method.
Cina: Thank you for meeting with me, ladies! I’m excited to hear and to share your experiences of movement in your “Golden Years.” What gave you the idea to share your perspective on age and being involved in this system?
Megan: I feel there is such a hype about anti-aging. Every magazine you look at is about the external. People are spending a fortune on anti-aging. Yet, they are neglecting the inner body. The Gyrotonic and the Gyrokinesis Methods are both anti-aging, starting from the inside. Basically, you are keeping your organs, your mind, your mobility — and all of the things money can’t really buy — healthy.
When we come to these courses like we do, and meet with like-minded people and with young people, it’s all a part of anti-aging. You just feel great. I think there is a huge neglect once you get over 60. People start feeling and thinking old.
For myself, I’ve always moved and exercised in other methods, but I’ve been involved in this work since 2001.
Virginia: Yes, and with this work you can’t think old because it’s always new. Juliu is always changing things. We have so much material that we can teach.
It’s great if someone wakes up in the morning and they are 60, 70, 80, whatever, and say, “I’m looking forward to going to my class,” because it makes them feel good. Even if they feel crummy coming in, they feel good by the end of class. It’s so important.
Megan: In these classes we teach people to breathe. I find that I have more energy than a lot of younger people. I have three children and they are amazed at how I can keep up with them. I think it’s the breath work and the stimulation of the all the organs that plays such a huge part of anti-aging. I do believe that in the Gyrotonic and Gyrokinesis Methods, there is no age. It’s just a number for us. Like I said, I think I have more energy than a lot of young people that I see sitting around and not moving.
Virginia: Yes, that’s right!
Megan: Movement is really the key to everything. Aging usually starts with joint problems. You just need to keep moving. The Gyrotonic and Gyrokinesis Methods are so gentle and safe.
Virginia: That’s the key, it’s possible to do it without getting injured.For example, for someone who can’t walk very well, they can sit in a chair and do these things and feel better. You know, I’ve been a ballet dancer my whole life, and I have a ballet studio. I’m teaching a lot of kids that are getting ready to go into their careers as dancers. So, I’ve always thought that I have to be able to demonstrate so they can see what they need to do. About 4 or 5 years ago, my hip was not doing so well. I was starting to notice that I wasn’t able to do a few little things. Of course, being in denial, I didn’t want to go to the doctor. Finally, it came to me that I should go get my hip fixed. I ended up having a hip replacement a little over a year ago. Within three days of the surgery, I was on the Gyrotonic machine doing small arches and curls. There are so many ways you can rehab. When I was going to the physical therapist, they couldn’t believe how fast I was recovering. They were asking how I was doing it because they see people in rehab for months and months and not make this much progress. I told them they need to come see our Gyrotonic equipment!
Cina: In just over a year from hip replacement, you are here doing Gyrokinesis Level 2? Wow.
Virginia: Yeah, of course. It’s no problem. I could do it before the surgery, so it’s all in there. I just have to revisit how to go about some of the exercises. It’s also really great for teaching because it’s made me go back and think about how to teach the material. If someone comes with the same problem, I now have better ideas of how to approach their issues.
Cina: What advice would you like to share with the younger generation coming up behind you?
Megan: I think the most important thing is to never, ever stop moving. There is no restriction, you just do it with the right intention. Also, as you get older, you need to start thinking about how you are moving. When I was young and teaching aerobics and doing that kind of crazy stuff, I wasn’t thinking about that. As I’m getting older, I have to. Posture is one of the most important things. I live in a community where there are a lot of retired people, and I see that the first thing to go is posture. In this system, we focus so much on that. Without even realizing it, you are sitting on the Gyrokinesis stool, lengthening and feeling great.
I do know a lot of retired people who have a fantastic lifestyles with personal trainers and all of that, but it’s done for an hour a week and then it’s forgotten. You have to have a system that you can maintain. This is why I love this system: it’s functional movement that you can apply to everyday life, things like being at the supermarket and reaching to get something off the top shelf, or bending down to get your handbag, or whatever.
Virginia: Yes, and in the car, when you have turn and look around. Also, balance is huge for older people. I started working with a man who was having a shoulder replacement, and he was a high level athlete in his youth. He’s now 55 or 56 years old. We were doing some Gyrotonic things, and I stood up and said, “Let’s work on your balance a little bit.” He was shocked that he could not stand on one foot without wobbling all around. He wanted to know what to do about it, and I just gave him the different movements we do to help with balance, like step and hold. Within about about four or five classes, he was better and not wobbling or falling over. He was also having problems with his feet and his ankles rolling in. Just this little bit of balance work made a huge difference for him.
People are shocked when they can’t bend forward, back, or side-to-side. Those movements go away – even in young people. When I’m teaching someone in their late 20s, who may have been athletic in college but haven’t done anything in four or five years, they are shocked with they can’t do certain things.
Megan: A lot of people don’t know where their body can go. This teaches you where you can go and how to go further. It’s not all linear.
Cina: So, at this stage in your lives, how has your quality of movement been impacted?
Virginia: I think it’s better. It keeps getting better and better.
Megan: For me, there is no other way. I have taught all kinds of other movement systems because movement has been a hobby of mine for many years. Since I started this, I found that my whole body has changed. For me, it’s internal, as well. I don’t have a lot of the internal problems that many of my friends have. I don’t have hormonal problems, and I breezed through menopause.
Virginia: Same for me, I had no problem going through menopause. I was 56 and I had no hot flashes or anything. I had none of those symptoms you read about.
Megan: I believe that my organs have stayed young. I was about 53 when I started menopause, when a lot of my friends were already taking all sorts of hormone replacements, and I breezed through with absolutely nothing. I believe my inner body is very healthy.
Virginia: It’s so shocking because whenever I go to the doctor once a year, and they do the blood tests, they’re all like, “Wow, this is perfect. There is nothing wrong with any of your blood, what are you doing?” People in my age group are having a lot of stuff going on and I’m not.
Cina: Will you share some stories about your clients who are practicing these methods during their “golden years” of movement?
Virginia: It’s never too late to start! This is the thing. I had a client who was 83, lost her husband and had never exercised before. She came to me after trying some other movement methods that weren’t working. She’s now 95 and just fine. She loves doing this.
Megan: One of my clients had a very bad fall. She’s in her 50s and fell 1.5 meters (about 5 feet) and hurt her spine. She had cracked cervical vertebrae and had to have a spinal fusion. In the village where I live, no one had even heard of the Gyrotonic Method. I looked at her movement, she was very kyphotic, she had never exercised before the accident and did not come from a movement background. So, we started with gentle movements. Her specialist told her she probably would not be able to walk properly again because of the nerve damage. I see her today, and she is line dancing! It’s all through the breath work, starting to regain her posture and her body language, and being able to walk upright and regain balance. It’s also that she is feeling good about herself and her accomplishments after being told by doctors, “This is just your lot. You’re not going to be able to do very much.” She’s opened up, and she’s blossoming.
Cina: O.k., so how do you both feel about coming to these courses and participating with so many young trainers?
Virginia: I think it’s great! I’m seeing the younger ones, what they are doing, and it makes me want to go there, too. It’s the dancer thing, when you’re in the draft you just gotta do it. It’s motivating.
Megan: I don’t come from a dance background, but I just love coming and mixing with these young people. It’s like a breath of fresh air. You know, when I go home from these courses, my children who are in their late 20s and early 30s pay me compliments. My first Gyrokinesis Level 1 course that I did in Rome, many years ago, was with Juliu, a bunch of Master Trainers, and NYC Ballet dancers. I had a ball! I wasn’t able to do what they were doing, but for my body, I was trying my best and I felt great! I went away feeling so much more open in my body. Watching these beautiful bodies move is a reminder that it’s not impossible for me to move within my range and still get the same satisfaction. That’s why I love Gyro – there is no competition and Juliu reminds us of that. You work within your capability to get just as much benefit as anyone else. So, it doesn’t matter. This is just a fabulous bunch of people.
The other thing that I must mention is that as one gets older, you start to lose touch with a bigger community. You get involved with one or two close friends who you have things in common with, and that’s about it. When I go away from a course, I’ve met people from all over the world. This, in itself, is so stimulating. How many people over 60 get to meet so many different people of all ages? Having that community, staying connected, this keeps you young.
Cina Canada is a GYROTONIC® Trainer and the Media Coordinator for GYROTONIC® International Headquarters.