Picture this: It’s a beautiful day and you are on a walk enjoying the fall foliage. You are walking with a companion, your dog, your (grand)children, or maybe enjoying some quiet alone time. Suddenly your companion slips and grabs onto your arm. Or maybe your dog pulls forcefully on the leash to chase after a squirrel. One of the children suddenly refuses to walk any farther and insists on being carried. Or, maybe you don’t see the uneven terrain ahead, misjudge your step, and lose your balance. We’ve all experienced situations where just the acts of daily life can lead to unexpected results in our body. Functional training can help prepare us for these moments.

Functional training is targeted movement that works the body and muscle groups in ways that support the activities of daily life to help you feel better as you move through your day and reduce risk of injury. Both Pilates and GYROTONIC® exercises can be used as functional training for a variety of lifestyles and functional fitness goals.

For most people, training the body to meet the activities of daily life means making sure that you move your spine in all of its planes of motion every day so that the small muscles that stabilize the spine stay active. Even gentle spinal motions like cat stretches and easy rotations like side lying spinal rotation and arm circles that bring you into a bit of spinal extension can help you maintain the mobility necessary for everyday movements. Exercises like squats, single leg lifts and side leg lifts will keep the lower body kinetic chain active and strong.

MOVE Trainer Davy Darnton doing a Pilates teaser

Pilates and GYROTONIC® exercise as functional training

When life throws you these curveballs, how does your body respond to these changes in demand? Does your companion pull you down with them and you both get banged up, or are you able to provide a steady arm to help them regain their footing? Does your dog pulling cause you to suddenly twist and strain a muscle in your back, or is your body able to adjust to the change of directions with healthy spinal rotation? Are you able to carry a child without causing your shoulders to go on strike the next day?

As a Pilates and GYROTONIC® trainer, I want to partner with my clients to help them to move pain-free through daily life and give their body strength and resources adapt to unexpected movement loads. Each of our movement loads and physical requirements is going to be unique.

For example, as a mom with small children, I need my body to be able to keep up with my busy four-year-old, but also be able to play on the floor with my infant. I also need to be able to hold babies in my arms for long periods of time and lift my children from varying surfaces or heights many times a day. My functional training goal is motherhood!

In this lifestyle scenario, Pilates helps me:

  • Train and strengthen my deep core muscles that are also recovering from childbirth
  • Ensure my glutes are firing to support my movements
  • Keep the muscles of my shoulder strong, but mobile
MOVE trainer Davy Darnton doing GYROTONIC® exercise

Alongside the above goals, GYROTONIC® training helps me:

  • Keep my spine mobile and articulating in all directions (kids wiggle unpredictably!)
  • Lengthen my chest muscles to counteract all the hours I spend focused downward on babies
  • Strengthen my erector spinae muscles that keep me upright and tall

What type of life are you training for? Is it a life that can react quickly and adapt to changes without causing injury? There are many stages of life that can be served by this approach to training. You may not have babies, but maybe you have a desk job that takes a toll on your body. Or you may spend a lot of time in a committed relationship with your laptop or cell phone.  Maybe you love to work in your garden, or have the vacation of a lifetime coming up. Every life has movement challenges. You don’t need to be training for a half marathon to have a goal for your Pilates or GYROTONIC® practice.

A MOVE client used functional training in Pilates to reach the top of Machu Picchu

Pilates and GYROTONIC® exercise are both effective functional training methods to support your life’s activities, whatever that may encompass. We hear messages often about how we are supposed to look, but if your body doesn’t allow you to live a joyous and active life, what’s the point? Training goes deeper than face value, and as a trainer I care more about helping you train your body to support YOU.  It’s not about how you look it’s about how you MOVE.

You Can Start Now

MOVE Wellness has experienced trainers who can help you workout safely and effectively and provide accommodation for any injuries or nagging pains. Talk to your trainer about your personal goals for the movement that matters in your life so we can support you in achieving those goals. MOVE offers private training in-person or online as well as MOVE Livestream with interactive livestream group classes you can take from the comfort and privacy of your own home. In addition, MOVE On Demand offers programs and classes you can access whenever and wherever you want.

Call us today at 734-224-2560 to learn more or start now online to schedule in-studio. We also have a 14 day free trial of MOVE Livestream classes you can take advantage of.

About the Author: Davy Darnton

Davy Darnton is a STOTT PILATES and GYROTONIC® trained instructor, who loves to challenge her clients and help them feel great in their bodies. She believes that we all have the power to heal our bodies through movement. Davy is Certified in STOTT Pilates Mat & Reformer work, Prenatal & Postnatal Pilates, Pilates for Diastasis Recti and is a  GYROTONIC® Apprentice Trainer. Davy’s love of movement began at a young age when she first discovered gymnastics. Through her school years she was a competitive gymnast and gymnastics coach. During college Davy studied International Affairs at Ohio University and post college pursued development work as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Zambia. She is passionate about health prevention and education, women’s health, and holding space for healing to occur. Davy is returning to MOVE from maternity leave after welcoming her second child and works with clients of all ages and populations, including: post-rehab pilates, prenatal and postnatal pilates, chronic illness, cancer survivors, elder adults, athletes, runners, joint replacement, and anyone who has ever sat at a desk.

Wondering what exactly Gyrokinesis method is? Angela Sutcliffe is a dancer, instructor and movement scholar. She’s also one of our Senior Trainers at MOVE. Get a sneak peek of what you can expect in a Gyrokinesis class in the photo gallery below while Angela talks us through why she loves this particular movement system.

When were you first introduced to Gyrokinesis?

In my college dance classes. I took ballet three to four times a week in college. Occasionally, we would do a Gyrokinesis class instead of ballet class to give our bodies a break from the intensive training. My body craved the ease of movement I found in those classes. Not that it was easy. But it was more focused on finding maximum movement potential with less muscular energy expenditure. Applying the principles I was learning in that class changed how I responded to dance training. I found myself less physically exhausted.

What made you want to start teaching Gyrokinesis?

At first, I wasn’t sure what teaching the method would offer me that would be so drastically different from what I was able to do with my clients in the GYROTONIC® method. Initially, my thought was, “Well, isn’t it just the same thing but without the fancy equipment?” Becoming a certified instructor for Pilates or the Gyrotonic and Gyrokinesis methods requires a huge investment of time, energy and money. And it was important to me to understand the value of the method before investing in more training.

I took several classes myself and ultimately decided this additional method would help me develop a more nuanced understanding of my work with clients in Gyrotonic sessions. It helped further shape the lens through which I observe movement, and that alone made it worthwhile.

What do you love most about the Gyrokinesis method?

While Gyrokinesis is a structured class, there’s still opportunity to explore within the movement. The physical and verbal cues from the instructor are minimal. It’s an experiential class that allows you to gain more confidence and build a deeper integration the more you practice. It’s more about the movement truly becoming yours, rather than someone cuing you into different positions with their hands or voice.

Of course, that flexibility is also one of the most difficult aspects of the class for most people when they first start. You may feel like you’re flailing for the first couple of classes. When I first started, I found myself wishing the instructor would just break down the movement for me so that I could get it exactly right the first time. That’s just it though, there’s no “right.” There’s just your exploration of the movement.

Do you have a favorite pose?

My personal favorite is the hip-knee mobilization series. It’s a series of connected movements on the floor in which you’re working to find opposition through the legs and what we call “narrowing” to find space in the hip joints. We create more freedom of movement and less compression through these joints and allow the pelvis to roll or glide over the head of the femur bones with less restriction.

Can anyone take a Gyrokinesis class?

Yes. For example, any Gyrokinesis class, although structured, can be modified to allow for a seated or standing position if going to the floor is challenging. If you’re more comfortable seated or standing and can’t get to the floor comfortably, make sure to let your instructor know ahead of time so modifications can be given.

Is it easy to incorporate Gyrokinesis into daily practice at home?

It’s so easy. There is a series of seated and floor exercises that we give to clients so that they can practice the spinal motions and core connections we use in class to facilitate other movements.

Some days, I spend more time working at my computer than I originally planned to and my spine gets a little stiff. After spending just five to ten minutes doing the spinal motions “homework” for Gyrokinesis, the tightness from sitting at a desk disappears. I even gave my mom the information and when we’re on the phone I ask her if she’s “done her homework today.” She gets a kick out of that but also knows that its just because I love her and want her body to feel its best. 

If you could give someone one reason to try Gyrokinesis, what would it be?

It’s a chance to help your body feel its best by creating more space with a focus on decompression and lengthening throughout. You’ll forge new pathways for your body to move with ease and freedom, which in turn allows you to continue to do the things you love to do without restriction.

Tell us something about the poses you chose to highlight in the photos we’re seeing here.

The movements here were specifically chosen to showcase the accessibility and ease of this movement modality. But also the beauty and light that radiate from these movements by creating an open, accepting, sponge-like body to absorb all of the things life has to offer you.  

Livestream Gyrokinesis class at MOVE Wellness

Ready to feel it yourself? Enjoy a FREE 14 Day trial of MOVE Livestream and enjoy unlimited access to any of our 30+ livestream classes including twice weekly Gyrokinesis classes.

  • Gyrokinesis: Tuesday, 10:00 a.m. with Suzanne
  • Gyrokinesis: Thursday, 12:30 p.m. with Angela

The beauty of movement systems like Pilates is that they empower you to do more of what you love to do. And when it comes to living life to its fullest and using the power of movement to do so, there is perhaps no better spokesperson than MOVE instructor Suzanne Willets Brooks.

From dancer to movement instructor

Tell us a little bit about your background.

It includes many years of dance: modern, African, ballet, contact improvisation, and so on.  I have 15 years of teacher un-training in Yoga from Angela Farmer and Victor Vankooten, and am certified in many massage modalities from the Body Wisdom Massage Therapy School in Iowa and Green Mountain Institute of Integrative Therapy.  

Pilates, GYROTONIC® and Franklin Method®

What are you doing now?

Currently, I’m a certified level 2 Franklin Method® educator and have certifications in Pilates, GYROKINESIS® and GYROTONIC®.  What brought me to MOVE Wellness was a desire for community. I’ve worked in many different studios and this particular place really resonated with me, from the leadership of Elaine and Robin to all of the trainers and the clients.

What is something people might be surprised to know about you?

I am not sure that any one would be surprised by anything about me. I’ve had a colorful existence filled with many experiences from the subtle to the profound. To me, life is a thing to be experienced in all levels of intensity.

What attracted you to Pilates?

What I love about Pilates is that it is so accessible … for everyone. It’s a system with a long history of great results.  I also love how our understanding and applications of it have evolved as we continue to learn more about the human body. It’s a movement language that keeps growing.

What is one piece of advice you would offer to someone trying Pilates for the first time?

For someone just beginning, I would say this system is truly a mind-body system. It’s about experiencing the whole body, and how its parts work together. It involves kindness and listening, as well as sweating and pushing yourself. Have fun, enjoy the process and be patient with yourself.

We need to take responsibility for our bodies. This is your car, you’re behind the wheel.

Nature, Creativity and Freedom for our bodies

What inspires you?

Inspiration comes to me from so many sources. Nature for one: its creativity and variety. I’m inspired by both the mind and the heart, and the journey in how we create ourselves. I’m inspired by the mundane in our everyday lives, and I’m always faithful in what unfolds. I’m inspired by our humanity and the stories that shape us.

What values speak to you?

Freedom, nature and creativity are big ones for me. I want to be free to allow things to be what they are, see things as they are. The mind causes us to narrow and focus in so often, rather than opening up and seeing. I need freedom to be open and creative.  

For me, nature is freedom. Everything there has its balance, and it also makes me feel like I don’t have to be responsible for everything. I can just be part of it.

Safe, service-oriented exercise and training

What do you love about teaching movement?

I’ve always been very service-oriented. In dance, I always found myself gravitating toward some of the people behind me that were struggling. Many moons ago, I was a landscaper, and I’ve always loved helping things survive, thrive and look beautiful.

Working with people who want to co-create with me is what this is about. I want clients to be willing to invest in themselves. If your goal is simply to have a booty that you can bounce quarters off, that’s not really my thing. Yes, we can do glute work, but I want you to understand what we’re doing and why. In my opinion, things should feel great first. And looking great is the happy result of feeling great. People come to MOVE with vulnerable selves and they need to feel safe and free of judgment. My clients want to me to be passionate, and I want my clients to be at home in their bodies.

Franklin Method and fascial movement

Tell us a little about the fascial movement class you teach.

The Franklin Method® has revolutionized the way I look at movement. Unlike many other movement systems, it’s not based on choreography, but in the science of how our bodies work and function. This method is very much about you becoming the author of your experience and it’s wonderfully student-centered. Efficiency is one of the catchwords for the Franklin Method. Our bodies are incredibly efficient.

The fascial movement class is both a workout and an education in how our bodies work. Our posture, for example, is dynamic not static. This method teaches us to enjoy and trust the intelligent design of the body.  Each class can stands on its own and can benefit someone who comes just for that one time. But it can also be part of a bigger experience in understanding how our bones, muscles, fascia and organs support movement.

Ultimately, what we practice in the class becomes permanent. Standing, sitting,  walking, breathing. We’re creating a baseline for these critical functions of everyday life. This is truly a mind-body class where the balls and bands we use reinforce the experience of efficient movement, and leave you feeling more centered, calm and ready to tackle your day.

Fun and inspiration from a movement instructor

What’s your favorite way to exercise?

I love riding my bike and roller blading. Everything I do has to have some component of enjoyment. When I was younger, I ran cross-country, but I think I was working out a lot of stuff.

What’s your favorite food?

Anything that includes avocados, garlic and tomatoes, and maybe some hand made tortilla chips.

If you could offer some words of wisdom, what would they be?

I recommend more laughter, more playing and less structure. More receptivity, less doing.  I recommend clearing out large swaths of your day to enjoy the sunlight and the people who surround you. Life is to be lived, embrace yourself with all of your perceived flaws. You only get this one precious moment. So, go enjoy it.

Ready to embrace the beautiful efficiency and potential of your body with Suzanne? Learn more about private Pilates or GYROTONIC training at MOVE or sign up for Suzanne’s fascial movement class or GYROKINESIS® classes.

This week, we meet GYROTONIC® trainer and former client Mary Falcon. In retirement, Mary stays flexible, healthy, and mobile and supports her clients to do the same. She chats about her initial hesitancy to try GYROTONIC® which quickly transformed into an obsession, and shares some tidbits about her life.

Introduce yourself. What is your background? What brought you to MOVE?

My name is Mary Falcon. I have worked for the VA for much of my career, most recently in the field of patient safety. It was a rewarding career with the best mission in the world; serving those who served for us.

I came to MOVE as a client with my youngest daughter. We had taken Pilates at a studio across town but it wasn’t convenient after I moved to Dexter.  From the moment we first met Elaine and Robin and they shared their story about starting Move, we knew we found a good fit.

What is something people would be surprised to know about you?

I’m not sure if people would be surprised that I have a 47-year old daughter, but it SHOCKS me.  

What about GYROTONIC® appeals to you? Why are you drawn to this movement system in particular?

When Robin suggested that my daughter and I try GYROTONIC®, I was a little hesitant.  I love Pilates and the way it helped strengthen and lengthen my body, so I was concerned about trying something new. I’m not very coordinated so it’s always a bit intimidating, but after the first GYROTONIC® session we were hooked! Sitting behind a desk for 40+ years, this form of movement was exactly what my body needed; it felt expansive and opening.  It was then that I knew “what I wanted to be when I grew up.” I wanted to be able to provide this movement to others in my age group who perhaps lived behind a desk as I did and were as limited in their movement as I was. So I became a GYROTONIC® instructor when I retired from the VA.

What is one piece of advice you’d give to someone just starting GYROTONIC®?

I would suggest they just feel the movement and not get caught up in concepts at first because it all begins to make sense to the body after a couple of sessions.

What are you inspired by?

People and their stories.

What is your favorite exercise?  

The Arch and Curl Series with the handles in GYROTONIC®. It’s so opening.

“This form of movement was exactly what my body needed.” – Mary

Fun Stuff

What is your favorite food?  

Guacamole, but of course you need chips with that.

What is one conversation in history or now on which you’d like to eavesdrop?

Any of the conversations with our Founding Fathers. I’ve always been in awe of the minds that formed this nation.

Give us a recommendation. Can be anything.  

SMILE and of course MOVE.

Meet Silvia, physical therapist from Costa Rica and our newest GYROTONIC® Trainer. Silvia shows us below how movement really is medicine and how important it is to slow down.

“One of the best things about GYROTONIC® is the awareness of the whole body connection.”


Introduce yourself. Where are you from? What is your background/interests?

I’m from Costa Rica, I’m a physical therapist, I worked for almost 10 years as a PT and manager of a private clinic in Costa Rica. We had all kinds of injuries in the clinic, at all ages.

How does the fitness industry differ in Costa Rica from the mainland United States?

I think that here in Michigan more old elderly people go to the gym and in Costa Rica is the opposite, younger people exercise. I don’t have an explanation for that, but I think it is important that throughout life continue to move forward and do different things, not just exercise during your youth to be beautiful, or exercise during your old age to be healthy. Exercise is something that everyone needs as a routine in their lives.  

Obviously as a physical therapist, you are very informed about the human body. When you decided to do Gyrotonic, did you learn anything about the human body you didn’t know before? Did anything surprise or shock you?

One of the best things about GYROTONIC® is the awareness of the whole body connection.

My favorite thing – and the biggest surprise – was what we call the narrowing sequence.

Only good things are going to happen, only good things are going to be talked, and only good things your body will receive

What sparked your interest in the GYROTONIC EXPANSION SYSTEM®? What do you most love about it? What do you find most challenging about it?

The amazing feeling when you finish your session, the way you feel is really good because you work your body, breath, and your mind at the same time. I really love the structure of the System and one of the good things is that everyone can practice GYROTONIC®, people with injuries, elderly people, young people, athletes, dancers, etc, will have many benefits.

The biggest challenge is to continue studying and learning the use of all devices and new techniques.

What can clients expect in a session with you?

The most important thing for me is that the client feels good during the session. During that time only good things are going to happen, only good things are going to be talked, and only good things your body will receive. Because we live in accelerated world, it’s really important to have this kind of rest during life. In a session with me, we are going to let the body and mind “rest” from the great wave of duties for a while, perceiving benefits in a physical and in a mental level.

What inspires you?

My husband and my family inspire me to be a better person and a better professional. Helping people feel better, look better and be more independent is something really valuable to me.

Favorite exercise

Gyrotonic, Zumba, walks

Favorite healthy meal

Quinoa salads with all kind of veggies!

We congratulate MOVE Trainer Angela Sutcliffe on recently becoming a senior trainer! Macarons, music, and movement are some things that come to clients’ minds when they get to know Angela. Meet her below!

  • Angela, it is been awesome seeing your progress in your Pilates/Gyrotonic journey. How did it all start?  I first started doing Pilates in college at Wayne State University. It was required that all dance majors take both Pilates Mat and Reformer because the program believed it was the best way to keep our bodies healthy. I felt changes in my body immediately and knew I needed to do more. I eneded up receiving a scholarship to become an instructor and since then it has spiraled (pun-intended) into what I’m doing today!
  • It is not uncommon for trainers to train on the side, as a weekend gig, and/or teach group classes solely, but you have clearly dedicated yourself to movement as a career, first with Pilates and then with Gyrotonic. What about this profession motivates you to keep consuming more and more? Movement, anything about it (teaching, doing, watching, learning)- it makes me feel whole. I teach Pilates and Gyrotonic but I make it a practice to move every day in any way I can. I want to share the joy I have for movement with others and help them find the freedom of movement that can exist in their body. 
  • When you’re not at the studio, where are you?  I’m never not at the studio! Just kidding, I do go home some nights! I love home because for the first time since high school I have lived in the same place for more than a year. In that time I have been able to make it feel really comfy, calming and charming with my evolving interior decorating skills. I also love trying new recipes. My favorite thing to make these days are macarons! 
  • Where is your favorite place? White Hall, Illinois. Population 2,000. There’s one stop light, an old park with a couple of benches where I spend warm summer days journaling, a little white church that only got indoor plumbing in the last 15 years and a Kroger that is about the size of the group room at MOVE. Most importantly though there’s my Grandpa, the most wholesome, warmest, courageous and kindest heart you will ever meet. He will tell you he loves me more but that is false and he knows it. We have this discussion every time we talk on the phone. 
  • Give us an album recommendation. 

Okay here’s 7 🙂

  • Golden Hour Kacey Musgraves 
  • Off to the Races Jukebox the Ghost 
  • Feels Like Today Rascal Flatts
  • Unapologetically Kelsea Ballerini
  • Dan + Shay Dan + Shay
  • The Blade Ashley Monroe
  • Is Anybody Out There A Great Big World 

What is something that people would be surprised to learn about you? I have 7 nieces and nephews ranging from ages 4-21! I have been Auntie Angela since I was four years old and its my favorite thing to be! They make my life full and entertaining! 

Book a session with Angela and our other lovely trainers here.

Our new group of trainers have completed their MOVE Wellness Studios Pilates or Gyrotonic Instructor Training Programs and are coming on board as MOVE Wellness Studios Trainers. This week, we shine the spotlight on Gyrotonic Trainer Mary Falcon. She has been a long-time MOVE Wellness Studios client, taking private sessions in both Pilates and Gyrotonic training. After she retired, she was ready to start her Gyrotonic career with us. We hope you enjoy getting to know Mary…

Apprentice Gyrotonic Trainer Mary Falcon

“I love the staff at MOVE Wellness Studios. Everyone is so welcoming and helpful. After only one Gyrotonic session, I felt taller and more flexible. It made me want to help others my age and those with limited mobility. I try to live by the oxygen mask scenario… “put your mask on first before assisting others.”  I love helping others but to do that I need to take care of myself by taking quiet time, getting plenty of rest and staying strong and mobile. To me, wellness means aging gracefully. I’m surrounded by loved ones who are becoming physically challenged as they age. I want to be an example for them and encourage them through movement and better eating habits.”

Schedule a private session with Gyrotonic Trainer Mary Falcon. 

Inner Pelvic Health | A New Approach to the Squat

By Mia Munroe


The Prevalence of Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

Pelvic floor dysfunction is becoming all too prevalent, affecting women in every stage of life, and unfortunately is acknowledged as the norm. Incontinence is not comfortably discussed among women yet the growing number of various adult bladder control products is rising steadily. Mainly following childbirth, varying degrees of prolapse severity (different inner organs falling out of place) is a frightening reality for too many women. The female body was built to handle childbirth and bounce back to full recovery, yet this appears to be no longer the case. It seems apparent that perhaps it is our lifestyle habits that no longer support our pelvic health. By approaching inner pelvic healing from a logical and comprehensive standpoint based on its design and uses, there are alternative answers to healing damage that typically stems from childbirth.

Ineffective Treatments for Pelvic Floor Health

In my exercise teaching experience, I found not only that pelvic floor issues have become the norm following childbirth but the treatments are ineffective and in many cases harmful. Surgically implanting slings and mesh suspension systems, wearing pessary insertions, and injecting bulking agents more commonly used in facial plastic surgery, are some of the current choices offered by traditional medicine. As I began researching and discussing the issue more openly with my clients, I heard Kegel exercises were, if anything, found to be frustrating and seldom reaching beyond a superficial fix of bladder control. The less invasive yet initial option of “X number of Kegels per day” has failed to be effective on it’s own and could even be argued as detrimental to pelvic floor health.

Extensive anatomical research revealed slightly differing graphical interpretations. Its given label of the pelvic floor denotes a complex group of muscles layered and designed to work together in ways that differ depending on the specified function. Where the traditional Kegel exercise is most often learned by isolating the Kegel muscle (pubo-coccygeous), stopping your flow of urine, in truth, that is but one component of a complex family of muscles with differing yet definable actions. Documentation shows Alfred Kegel working with patients primarily using a perineometer (a phallic shaped balloon used to measure and exercise the muscles of the pelvic floor). In actuality, ‘kegeling’ around nothing results in a tight, weak pelvic floor.  Consider the dissatisfaction of chewing with nothing in your mouth. Perhaps if the labeling of these muscles weren’t limited by being called “a floor”, the potential for isolating and emphasizing certain areas along the natural cylindrical shape would be better understood. 

Letting Go of the Kegel and Embracing the Squat

By incorporating movement in one’s legs, pelvis, and spine supported by deep breath work, I teach cylindricization (extending the base downwards and narrowing the top upwards), in either a seated or standing position. With repetitive practice and proper use of breath, one can learn to simultaneously flex at the top and extend at the base. Deep inner pelvic muscles exist to not only to lift but to extend or cylindricize the vaginal canal. However, accessing this level of sophistication led me to what may be the most important component missing from our pelvic health – the opposite of a “Kegel”, which is squatting.

All muscles become stronger when stretched deeply. Unfortunately multiple squatting practices have sociologically disappeared. We no longer harvest our own food and the ones who do, sit on a tractor. Waste cannot be properly eliminated while sitting on a toilet, currently our only social and economic choice (with the exception of many Asian countries). Is it possible that all these near universal changes have contributed to tight, weak pelvic floors? Certain cultures, unlike our own, do embrace squatting as the preferred position during childbirth. Yet this practice is only recognized in a handful of states that accept midwifery.

Our sedentary lifestyle tightens our hips and knees, making squatting difficult for some but not impossible. There are ways to modify a weight-bearing squat by using pillows underneath the sitz bones and positioning ones weight either forward onto ones hands or backward by hanging onto a door jam. Anyone can find their own comfortable squat by adjusting leg width and pointing ones toes either straight front or slightly out. Finding the correct modifications will take pressure off of fragile knees and avoid over-stretching tight hips. As I worked with more and more clients, results have proven that alternating squatting and standing with one’s legs strongly extended will in time result in taking pressure off this central mid-pelvic region. I always insist on completing a squat by standing with the legs as close together as possible if not touching. It is afterwards that one will feel a deep internal lift taking pressure off of the bladder and lower organs.

“Perhaps the best approach to these pelvic disorders could be reversed by letting go of the Kegel and embracing the squat.”


Mia Munroe is a GYROKINESIS® Master Trainer. She will be teaching two GYROKINESIS® for Pelvic Floor Health classes at MOVE Wellness Studios State Street on Monday, June 18 and Wednesday, June 20th from 6:00-7:30pm. They are open to the public and all levels. CLICK HERE to sign up

Gyrokinesis Instructors can take the GYROKINESIS® Applications for Pelvic Floor Health Workshop with Mia Munroe on June 18-20 from 2-6PM. CLICK HERE to sign up.


This article was originally published in “Healing our World” from the Hippocrates Institute


MOVE Wellness Studios trainer, Suzanne Willets Brooks answers some of your questions about the GYROTONIC® and GYROKINESIS® methods.

Describe Gyrotonic and Gyrokinesis exercise in one sentence.

The GYROTONIC EXPANSION SYSTEM® uses specialized equipment to take your whole body through rhythmic, circular spiraling motions, which increases flexibility and core strength while restoring functional health of all joints in the body, especially the spine. Gyrokinesis movement compliments Gyrotonic movement in that it too is a system of harmonizing organic movements such as circular waving and spiraling motions, but without the equipment and usually in a group setting.

How did you get started with the GYROTONIC EXPANSION SYSTEM®

I began studying Gyrokinesis exercise about eight years ago. I did the entire training to be certified and immediately fell in love with the method. Five years ago, I began my process of getting my certification. What impressed me about both systems was the innate intelligence of the movement. It is functional and rehabilitating. It connects into the many systems in the body. When I practice it feels painless and joyful and I get a great workout.

What do you think is underrated about this movement philosophy?  

Tension is the enemy of movement. Tension wears out our joints and wears down our nervous system. The Gyrotonic philosophy is one of harmonizing. The movement feels so organic, and we are moving functionally in the parasympathetic response system. The Gyrotonic method is a system that you can do forever.

What are the general health benefits of practicing Gyrotonic and Gyrokinesis exercises?  

Health benefits of Gyrokinesis and Gyrotonic exercises include better joint stability, increased circulation, better spinal mobility, better coordination of the pelvic floor, stronger more resilient core, increased range of motion and an improvement of daily posture.

Specifically, how can the Gyrotonic method assist people recovering from physical injuries?

For people transitioning out of physical therapy, our body systems work in a cooperative fashion. When we injure ourselves it is important to look at how our habits informed our injury or visa versa. The system offers support and correct functional movement connecting whole chains of movement. A knee injury for example can be connected to a faulty bone rhythm in the foot and pelvic chain. Understanding the function and moving in that function improves overall movement. Shoulder injuries can be related to improper scapular humeral rhythms. There is a whole protocol of movement in the Gyrotonic method that improves better joint coordination for shoulder health. It is a dynamic movement process which specifically helps ease people into full functional movement.

If you could give one tip for beginner participants, what would it be?  

I would say this system is a journey. Let it unfold. Find the ease and joy in the movement and trust your body.

Explore the method yourself by scheduling a Gyrotonic private session or drop in to one of our Gyrokinesis group classes.

Urinary Incontinence – Are You Among the 1 in 3?

Urinary Incontinence – are you familiar with these words? I am sure you have heard the joke – “laugh until you leak” or seen the commercials for “discrete pads for women”.  Odds are, if you are a woman, then you or someone close to you is dealing with incontinence on a daily basis. Studies have shown that 1 in 3 women suffer from urinary incontinence – which is an uncontrollable loss of urine.  There are two main types of urinary incontinence. Stress urinary incontinence which is when you “leak” when you cough, laugh, sneeze etc, and urge urinary incontinence which is the “gotta go” feeling some women experience and are then unable to hold their urine.  It is also possible to have a little bit of both types of incontinence which is referred to as mixed urinary incontinence. You may have heard from friends or read online that at certain times in your life incontinence is inevitable, like when you are pregnant, if  you have had multiple children, if you are nearing menopause, or if you are a runner. Well, I have great news for you! You are not destined to have “leaky faucets” just because you fall into any of these categories. There are steps you can take to help improve and even resolve incontinence.

Strengthening Your Pelvic Floor

The key to helping to gain your life back from incontinence lies in a few muscles that most people are unaware they have, or unaware of their function…the pelvic floor. Your pelvic floor is a network of muscles that spread across the bottom of your pelvic cavity like a hammock. They have many functions including supporting the pelvic organs such as the uterus, bladder, and rectum. They also help to withstand increases in pressure that occur in the abdomen with activities such as coughing and sneezing, and they help to enhance the sexual response. These are the muscles you are targeting when doing kegels. Many women have probably heard of kegels, but did you know that studies have shown that most women are unable to perform a proper kegel contraction without some education? It takes diligence, awareness, and practice to perform an effective pelvic floor contraction or a kegel.

How Pilates & Gyrotonic Targets the Pelvic Floor

At MOVE Wellness Studios in our Pilates and GYROTONIC sessions, the pelvic floor is a target of our connection to the “core” and we cue and train the contraction of these muscles as regular part of our private sessions and classes.  You learn how to do this in your first session and we work to build tone of the pelvic floor and other related muscles.  As small, local stabilizing muscles, it takes a little bit of time and focus to “feel” this area of our body work but quite often, learning to breathe in a way that supports toning the pelvic floor has other benefits such as releasing stress, relieving low back pain and building core strength.

Kegel Exercise to Strengthen the Pelvic Floor

  • Sit on a flat surface like a chair or bench with a rolled up towel or pillow between your knees.
  • Take a few breaths releasing your shoulders and sitting up tall with your feet flat on the floor.
  • Take a breath in to prepare and on your first exhale gently squeeze the towel.  Notice the area of your pelvis that is in contact with the chair.
  • On your second exhale, try to lift the center of your body off the chair, while gently squeezing the towel.  Do not contract  your large gluteus muscles but keep the focus more to the center and keep it very gentle.
  • Hold the contraction for the length of your breath, relax and inhale and do it again.
  • Repeat 10 breaths, twice per day.

Note: this is just a basic introductory exercise and if you have pain or any other symptoms after practicing it, discontinue it and get help from your physical therapist or doctor.

Physical therapy can be a great option for women who are suffering from incontinence that is more severe and truly impacting their quality of life. A pelvic floor physical therapist has special knowledge in the anatomy and function of the pelvic floor and how dysfunction in this area can lead to issues such as incontinence. Your pelvic floor physical therapist will assess your pelvic and lumbar spine alignment, as well as the strength, endurance, and function of your pelvic floor along with related musculature such as your core and gluteal musculature. They will then identify areas of dysfunction to help formulate a treatment plan geared specifically to your needs to help decrease your incontinence and get you back to living your life without the hassles of urinary incontinence.

For more information, join us on May 4th at 5:30PM for Incontinence Night at MOVE Wellness Studios. Click here for more information.

This post was authored by Stephanie Hemker, PT, DPT and Elaine Economou, PMA-CPT