Blog Post

With or Without Yoga? Gyrotonics vs. Essentrics

Gyrotonics Gyrotonics

MGF writes: "Do you have any information about two workouts named Gyrotonics and Essentrics i.e if they are new age or not?"

Gyrotronics is a yoga-based exercise regime and should be avoided.

According to the official website, gyrotronics was designed by a Romanian-born Hungarian named Juliu Horvath. Throughout his childhood he excelled at swimming, gymnastics and rowing. By the age of 21, he was a principle dancer for the Romanian National Ballet Company. He defected from Romania in 1970 and spent six months in a refugee camp in Italy before moving to New York City. At first, he survived by doing odd jobs ranging from "painting houses to dancing on cars in Central Park", but eventually began to dance professionally again, first with the New York City Opera and later with the Houston Ballet.

During his time in Houston, Juliu ruptured his Achilles tendon which shut down his dancing career. He moved back to New York City where he began a regular yoga practice.

"As he got deeper into his movement and meditation practices, he began having profound energetic experiences," the website explains.

Wanting to learn more about these experiences, he moved to the island of St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands where he built a small, one-room hut in the mountains and spent the next six years studying yoga and meditation.

Essentrics Essentrics

"During this time he gained new insights into movement and healing, and from these insights he began to create his own unique exercise method."

As he explains in an article appearing in the IDEA Fitness Journal: “I discovered Kundalini energy through my pain and agony, and somehow that awakened me. Being awakened energetically means that you can read the movement when it is not a movement yet. You are like a little child who is totally unconscious and not prepared to make movement happen. Children move because something moves them from within.”

The "energy" he's referring to is prana, aka chi, qi, universal life - a type of energy that is nonexistent according to science.

By 1977, he returned to New York City and began to teach this new method, initially dubbed "Yoga for Dancers", which he eventually renamed the Gyrokinesis Method. As his site explicitly states, "The original Yoga for Dancers movements are still taught as part of the Gyrokinesis Level 2 Program."

The Gyrokinesis Method was later expanded into the Gyrotonic Method which utilizes resistance equipment.

Miranda (L) and Sahra Esmonde-White Miranda (L) and Sahra Esmonde-White

Essentrics, on the other hand is yoga-free.

"It incorporates various techniques including PNF (proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation) stretching and isotonic movement while systematically working every joint in the body," the website states.

"The basis of the workout is a dynamic combination of strength and flexibility exercises, designed to pull apart the joints by elongating the muscles and challenging them in the lengthened position. This full-body technique works through the muscle chains, liberating and empowering the muscles, relieving them from tension in the process."

The technique is original in itself, but it is influenced by other disciplines such as the flowing movements of tai chi, the strengthening moves of ballet and the healing principles of physiotherapy.

The creators of Essentrics are Sahra Esmonde-White and her mother Miranda. Sahra is one of the top health experts in Canada and holds a bachelor's degree in Economics and along with Masters-level study in Health Economics and Public Health. Sahra's mother, Miranda, was a professional ballerina who went on to host the PBS fitness show, Classical Stretch, which has been on the air since 1999. She also served as the flexibility trainer and consultant to professional and Olympic athletes. Her first book, Aging Backwards, is due out in November.

Although I've never tried it myself, Essentrics appears to be a tough workout and the best part about it is that it's yoga-free!