Functional Movement : is Focus at SPYRL Chicago
Apr 25, 2017 11:27PM
By Carrie Jackson
With an emphasis on flowing movements and functional exercise, many athletes are turning to Gyrotonic and Gyrokinesis techniques to increase overall agility and performance. Now, studios like SPYRL Chicago, which opened in Highland Park in March, make the exercises available to anyone that wants to gain flexibility and use their body more optimally. Founder Sharon Lederman Burack, with her business partner and head trainer Amy Pena, attest to the techniques for elderly people looking for more stability or seasoned athletes working on improving their golf swing.
Gyrotonic and Gyrokinesis techniques were developed by Hungarian-born Juliu Horvath, a dancer who was looking for relief from his own career-ending injuries. Horvath opened the first Gyrotonic studio in 1984, serving a population that largely included dancers and gymnasts. Today, the techniques are practiced all over the world, and many professional athletes use them as a complement to other sports.
Burack, who has a degree in occupational therapy and was in the rehabilitation and long-term care industry for 20 years, is also the owner of Freedom Home Care, in Highland Park. She is committed to cost-effective rehabilitation and optimizing functionality at any age. “The Gyrotonic techniques are so versatile. My 92-year-old father practices regularly, and we also have a machine for children. We’ve seen positive results from people with chronic diseases like multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s. The exercises improve balance, flexibility, strength, coordination and range of motion.”
At SPYRL, group sessions are performed on a stool and mat, with the teacher leading a series of movements. “All the exercises emphasize continuous, flowing, nonlinear movements. Besides working your body, they actually help spark creativity by challenging your brain to think differently, which creates neuroplasticity,” says Burack. Clients then progress to sessions on the specialized Gyrotonic machines for more advanced exercises with added resistance.
Clients at SPYRL can buy 10-punch cards for private lessons, semi-private lessons and group sessions. The studio is open six days a week, but demand has been so high that they are looking to expand the schedule. The techniques work well on their own, as a complement to other exercises and as a form of physical therapy. “We see a lot of people with back injuries, because the exercises help to stimulate the nervous system, mobilize the spine and strengthen the core. We’re getting a number of tennis players, gymnasts, dancers, hockey players and even golfers,” she says.
Burack sees a tremendous improvement in her own functionality since she started the techniques. “My posture is better, I’m standing taller, my kung fu practice is stronger and I’m thinking more clearly. I just feel better overall and love how they keep your body ergonomically correct and functioning as optimally as possible,” says Burack.
Carrie Jackson is an Evanston-based writer and frequent contributor to Natural Awakenings magazine. Connect with her at CarrieJacksonWrites.com.