Tag Archive for: Gyrotonic Ann Arbor

MOVE is thrilled to be partnering with Melissa Trauger to provide on-site physical therapy services at the studio to pelvic health and orthopedic populations. 

“We know that a continuum of care is important to our clients as they work to get stronger and care for their unique bodies. Partnering with Melissa means that it will be easy for clients to have collaborative care right in the building. Working with a PT who understands the impact and scope of Pilates and GYROTONIC® exercise is the best service possible for our clients. Not only is Melissa a highly skilled orthopedic and pelvic floor specialist Physical Therapist, she shares our values and commitment to care for our clients. We could not be more excited to welcome her to the studio.”

—Elaine Economou, MOVE Wellness Co-Founder 

“I am extremely excited to partner with MOVE Wellness to provide on-site physical therapy services to the pelvic health and orthopedic populations of Southeast Michigan. My mission is to improve and maintain your quality of life when it comes to your specific goals, as well as, to bring awareness to an aspect of life (ahem, pelvic health) that should be talked and taught about, early and often.”

—Melissa Trauger, Rhapsody of Motion Concierge Physical Therapy

Benefits of physical therapy at MOVE

Collaborating with area physicians and physical therapists is important to providing our clients an excellent continuum of care. Quite often, when clients are working through a particular issue in their body, it is helpful to work in partnership with their physical therapist (or another medical professional like a DO or Physiatrist) to provide manual therapy, assess injuries and collaborate on movement goals. Post surgical clients can benefit in particular. Our scope of practice is movement and working with healthcare professionals for diagnosis and care plans for post-surgery, neurological issues or pain is the best service possible for our clients. 

Long time clients may recall our previous partnership with Julie Simpson of Mend PT so we know how well this kind of partnership can work. We are now so happy to be partnering with Melissa Trauger and Rhapsody of Motion to again offer PT services within MOVE. Melissa works independently inside MOVE Wellness studios, but is knowledgeable about the systems we teach. She is also an eager student of Pilates and GYROTONIC® exercise herself, which is key for us. 

Melissa works with orthopedic issues and has a special focus on pelvic floor dysfunction. We know that this affects both women and men and can play a role in low back pain, and hip issues. Pelvic floor PT can also be part of the solution for imbalances throughout the body. At MOVE we work a lot to help people have a healthy functioning pelvic floor. So much of what we teach focuses on coordinating breath with movement and the pelvic floor is part of the musculature involved in breathing. Working with Melissa can help clients identify pelvic floor imbalances and learn to release the muscles and regain coordination. She will be a wonderful resource for our clients to help resolve a number of issues.

Meet Melissa Trauger

Melissa Trauger is a physical therapist who treats patients with the mindset that everything is connected in the chaos of the body. This view, along with her love of music, led her to finding the rhapsody within the human body. Both require many moving parts working in concert creating harmonious movement.

Melissa received her Doctor of Physical Therapy from the University of Dayton in 2016, and continues her education to diversify her skills when treating pelvic health and orthopedic populations. Her undergraduate was spent at the University of Michigan where she earned a B.S. in Movement Science. She followed that up with several years spent in Chicago working as a massage therapist and personal trainer.

When Melissa isn’t helping her clients relieve their physical pain, she spends her time with her husband, Ryan, and their dog, Coco. She enjoys writing and playing music, running, and providing comedic relief among friends and family.

Start Now

By partnering with MOVE, Melissa can promote early access to physical therapy through individualized care that includes manual therapy, neuromuscular re-education, therapeutic exercise, and more. Please feel free to reach out to Melissa directly via the contact information below to schedule a call and learn more!

Rhapsody of Motion Concierge Physical Therapy
Phone: 734-519-0020
Email: info@rhapsodyofmotion.com
Website: www.rhapsodyofmotion.com
Instagram/Facebook: @rhapsodyofmotion

Book your appointment directly with Melissa online, by email, or by calling 734-519-0020.

by MOVE instructor Davy Darnton

Pregnant bodies are forever at the mercy of public discussion, whether we want them to be or not. And women experiencing the physical, psychological and emotional weight of pregnancy need strong supportive communities available to them before, during and beyond childbirth. As I reflect on the arrival of my second and third children, I can feel the weight of the social expectations surrounding my body nearly everywhere I go.

Public expectations of the pregnant body

I remember once, at 29 weeks pregnant, I was asked by a complete stranger if I was having twins, while another person casually commented that I “looked like I was about to pop.” I explained to them that I did in fact have only one baby in my belly and that I wasn’t due for another couple of months.

As a Pilates instructor and mother, I wanted to shout from the rooftops, “This is what a healthy woman who is five feet tall and seven months pregnant looks like!”

The goal during pregnancy is simple: Keep yourself healthy, keep your baby healthy. And a healthy you and a healthy baby mean weight gain and a big belly. And I’ll never understand why people expect pregnant women to look small. Sure, the weight gain bothered me a bit during my first pregnancy. But now looking back on my third pregnancy, I know exactly what my body is doing: it’s transitioning into “milk truck” mode. And if becoming rounder and fuller means I birth a healthy baby and am able to feed that baby, great. Bring on the soft, supple body.


The myth of the postpartum body “bouncing back”

Recently, a male friend of mine whose sister is pregnant asked me, “So, you bounce back pretty quickly right?” I looked him right in the eyes and said, “There’s no bouncing back. Your body is never the same after pregnancy and birth.” It wasn’t the answer he was expecting.

The whole idea of bodies bouncing back is pretty silly. Our bodies aren’t basketballs, and that’s a good thing. Life moves forward, not backward. We should be encouraging women to celebrate the new bodies they have, not stigmatizing the changes that accompany them. This shouldn’t be a revolutionary concept, and yet somehow it still is.

I can’t tell you how many clients I work with who are experiencing multiple pelvic organ prolapses and incontinence because of the counterproductive expectations and narratives surrounding the pregnant and postpartum body. During pregnancy, our bodies are preparing for birth. That means opening and loosening, not restricting and tightening. After pregnancy, our bodies work and move in new ways, and we should embrace that. There’s no going back to “maidenhood” after motherhood. And why would you want to?

Pregnancy, celebrities and the media

If there were every two ideas perfectly at odds with one another, they would be a healthy pregnant body and the media’s representation of pregnancy. We see celebrities on television and in magazines (with a full arsenal of personal trainers and nutritionists behind the curtain) basking in the glow of their pregnancies until about six or seven months in, and then they disappear until they’ve magically “bounced back” to their prenatal bodies. Or so the media would have us believe.

Pilates is for every body

One of the most troubling aspects of social expectations surrounding body image, of the pregnant body or any body, is that they fail to acknowledge that we are all individuals with unique body shapes and sizes.

A pregnant woman who is six feet tall with wide hips is going to carry a baby differently than one who is five feet tall with narrow hips. Similarly, someone who’s just given birth is going to look and move differently than someone recovering from a stroke or spinal surgery. Which is why focusing on the health and function of your body from the inside out (rather than what it looks like on the outside) is the key to feeling better and stronger, and living longer.

My favorite thing about teaching Pilates as a movement practice is that it helps you feel better and more balanced, whether your motivation for doing it comes from wanting to fix lower back pain from years of sitting at a desk or just a basic desire to look better in a swimsuit.

A fit pregnancy and the GYROTONIC® method

One of the fundamental problems with the word “fit” is that, for most people, that means tight and toned, or more accurately, constricted. Pregnant women need their bodies to open and release, not tighten up.

We need mobility and stability. We need our spines and sacrums to glide through their full range of motion. We need our femurs to articulate properly in our hip sockets and we need our tailbones to wag.

A “fit pregnancy” isn’t about weight lifting and more traditional exercises methods, although it can certainly include those things when done safely and thoughtfully. Prenatal exercise should include a harmonious blend of fascial stretching and muscle strengthening.

In July 2017, I started learning the GYROTONIC® method to get out of my comfort zone a bit and learn a more dynamic way of moving my body. At first I was overwhelmed, and moving that way felt foreign to my body. But then I fell in love with it.

I started working toward certification as a GYROTONIC® instructor later that year completed my final certification course at 28 weeks pregnant in April 2019. It was a joyful and empowering physical experience. I left feeling energized, strong and ready to enter and embrace my third and fourth trimesters.

After the birth of my first child, I grew tremendously as a Pilates instructor because I was able to apply that knowledge base and movement practice to my own body as it healed. And now, I’m geeking out on movement in anticipation of the healing process again, this time with GYROTONIC® also in my toolbox. And beyond my own postpartum healing, I look forward to bringing this deeper knowledge to my work with clients when I return from maternity leave.

I feel nourished and supported through the movement work I’m doing now, and like I’m working with my body and my baby, rather than against them.

Community support and movement practices for pregnant women

If you really want to be supportive of and say the right thing to women who are expecting, here’s my advice: stop commenting on their bodies. Instead, try saying one of the following:

  • You look so healthy and wonderful.
  • When are you due? (with a tone of genuine curiosity, not judgment)
  • I really hope everything continues to go smoothly and that you have a joyful birth.
  • What are you most looking forward to?
  • After the baby is born, can I help by bringing you dinner or anything else?

Along those same lines, it’s also important to know what not to say. Pregnant women do not want to hear about your cousin’s traumatic high-risk birth story, or about their pregnancy “waddle,” or anything else that might compound the natural amount of anxiety and uncertainty we experience while pregnant.

Pregnant women need access to the wisdom and resources of other women who have already given birth and/or movement instructors who understand how prenatal and postpartum bodies work, move and heal. We need to understand what physical challenges are normal, common and treatable after we give birth.

We need a supportive team of experts including physicians, midwives, pelvic health physical therapists, pre/postnatal fitness instructors, friends and family who will collectively help us feel empowered rather than helpless. We need nourishing foods that help our babies grow, and that help us heal mentally and physically.

It often feels to me like our culture has lost so many of the communal support structures for women before and after pregnancy. Women aren’t supposed to do this alone. We can’t heal from childbirth if we’re not resting enough. We can’t just jump back into the daily grind without risking pelvic organ prolapse, incontinence and a range of mental health challenges.

Investing in smart, safe prenatal movement practices and a postpartum period that celebrates the new body you have, rather than clinging to the old body you left behind, is an investment in the health of your whole family, whatever that family may look like.

Want to learn more about the benefits of Pilates and GYROTONIC® for before and after pregnancy? Looking for a supportive and knowledgeable community to help you support and celebrate the body you have? Visit movewellness.com or call 734-224-2560.

Davy Darnton is a STOTT Pilates and GYROTONIC® instructor at MOVE Wellness in Ann Arbor and can be found on Instagram at @davydarnton.movement.

We are thrilled to announce that MOVE hosted Gyrotonic Master Trainer Donna Place for the Level 1 Foundation Training in August after our own Lauren Miller took trainees through their Pre-Training in June. Now Donna is back for limited private sessions, one special tower class, and a FREE Anatomy Jam. Donna has a wonderful perspective on supporting people as they step into movement work. We’ve all been in such good hands and you won’t want to miss out on this latest training opportunity!

1. Anatomy Jam

  • January 27th, 2023
  • 2:30 – 4pm
  • Free to movement professionals
  • Email us at office@movewellness.com to RSVP
  • Details: Come sip tea and learn some approaches to anatomy that are beyond origins and insertions.

2. Private Sessions and Tower Class

  • Limited spots available January 27th, 2023
  • Fee: $120 for a private session, $55 for the Tower Class
  • These sessions are only open to Gyrotonic Instructors

Information and steps to becoming a Gyrotonic Level 1 Trainer can be found here to help you further understand the process. 

1. Pre-Training: 

  • June 3-5 and June 17-19, 2022
  • Fee: $850
  • Studio Fee: $250 to hold spot

2. Foundation Course:

  • August 15-27, 2022
  • 12 days with a day off on day 7 (8/21)
  • Fee: $1,500
  • Studio Fee: $500 ($400 If paid by April 1)

3. Supervised Review

  • 1/21 – 1/26
  • Fee: $700
  • Studio Fee: $250

4. Certificate Course

To Register:

Please call us at 734-224-2560 or email us to register and hold your space by paying your studio fees to MOVE. Course fees will be paid directly to the trainer.

Master Trainer Donna Place GYROTONIC® Instructor Training

About Donna Place

Donna Place is graduated with a BA in music education from Whittier College in 1987. She spent the next 12 years teaching music, folk dance and physical education, both in college and in elementary schools. Convinced of the necessity of movement in the school system, Donna began studying dance more formally at local studios and the Lewitzky summer dance program. She received her MA in dance studies in 1995 from the Laban School for Movement and Dance in London. During that time she also began studying Pilates with Alan Herdman. After returning to the United States she continued Pilates training with Marie Jos​e Blom and GYROTONIC® training with Mary Halzworth, completing both programs in 1996. 

In 2000 Donna became a GYROTONIC® master trainer and in 2001 she joined the dance faculty at Orange Coast College where she currently teaches kinesiology for dance. Donna travels throughout the United States and abroad teaching anatomy seminars for various movement programs as well as teacher training courses for the GYROTONIC® system. 

MOVE Senior Trainer Lauren Miller

About Lauren Miller

Lauren is a certified GYROTONIC®, GYROKINESIS® and TRX instructor as well as a STOTT PILATES Certified Trainer.

Lauren holds a BA, a BFA and an MS from the University of Michigan and is an accomplished dancer. She spent 8 years with the Ann Arbor Ballet Theatre, 5 years in Chicago as a dancer with JHD2, dance teacher for Park Ridge district, at the Joel Hall Dance Center, as a freelance director, choreographer, performer and (in her own words) a theater tech geek!

Although she has more than 30 years of dance training to her name, when she’s not dancing or helping clients achieve a greater level of fitness Lauren also finds time to pursue her other interests of geology, science education and playing the cello.

Getting started with movement? Here are types of workouts you can try

“Figuring out where to begin your fitness journey can be a challenge. Learning the movement essentials and finding your favorite types of workouts are the first steps to getting started with fitness.”

—Elaine Economou

There are so many ‘shoulds’ in our vocabulary for fitness and movement. The hardest part of sorting through the list of shoulds? Figuring out how or where to begin. If you are working with past injuries, health issues, or any level of busy life it can seem even harder to get started.

Instead of giving you another list of things you ‘should’ do, Elaine Economou’s latest blogpost for popular website, Sixty and Me will share some ways to help you get started with movement in a way that works for you. Maintaining a variety of workouts is best. After all, the very best workout is the one that you will do!

Read the full blogpost on Sixty and Me.

Getting started with exercise

Elaine shares two ways we can think about how to get started with movement. One or both may resonate and help you on your movement journey.

  • First, is the behavior science approach. Using positive psychology will help you identify your motivation for including movement and fitness in your life. Understanding your motivation will help identify how fitness can fit into how you frame your life and your vision for your best self.
  • Second is the movement science approach. This is a little more instructional and grounded in what we know to be true about how movement and fitness impact your body and overall health.

Types of workouts

With so many different types of workouts to choose from, there is something for everyone. Elaine will share a little more about some of the ingredients in her own recipe for fitness. Including:

Maybe you’ll be inspired to try one of them for yourself!

How to get started with movement

Elaine Economou’s new Movement Essentials: Getting Started with Pilates is a 28-day program at MOVE On Demand designed to get you moving safely and keep you on track. Each week Elaine introduces you to the basic principles of Pilates with a consistent warm up, weekly classes, and a variety of special topics to enhance your journey. And, it comes with an easy-to-follow calendar that will guide you through a clear progression and provide a foundation for healthy movement.

Watch the trailer to learn more. Support the activities you love to do in life by starting today!

About Elaine Economou

As co-founder of MOVE Wellness®, Elaine Economou helps people move with ease, strength, and joy. Her passion is empowering people to understand their unique bodies and build strength to support moving well through their unique life. Elaine has created Movement Essentials: Getting Started with Pilates to help people move well and live a life they love – wherever and whenever.

Find all of Elaine’s Sixty and Me blogs on her author page.

Mark your calendars and plan to join us October 1–3 as GYROKINESIS® master trainer, Alicia Head visits MOVE to present a continuing education course for instructors as well as classes open to the community.

GYROKINESIS® Essentials for Instructors

For instructors, we are pleased to offer Alicia’s continuing education course GYROKINESIS® Essentials Part 1: A Journey of Spinal Motions Toward Level 1

  • WHEN: October 1–3, 2021 at MOVE Wellness Studios
  • PREREQUISITE: Certified Level 1 GYROKINESIS® Instructor
  • COST: $175 Studio fee due upon registration, plus $350 course fee to be paid directly to Alicia.
    • Friday, October 1, 12:00–2:00 p.m. and 4:00–7:00 p.m.
    • Saturday, October 2, 10:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m. and 2:00–5:00 p.m.
    • Sunday , October 3, 9:00 a.m.–11:00 a.m. and 12:00–3:00 p.m.

This 3-day course is a dynamic and systematic approach to preparing the spine and nervous system for the full formats featured in GYROKINESIS® Level 1. Each format was developed for a 60-to-90 minute class and they can be presented either as a progression or independently. This course satisfies continuing education and update requirements for certified GYROKINESIS® instructors as well as GYROTONIC® instructors who are also certified in GYROKINESIS®.

These GYROKINESIS® formats explore three different aspects of spinal motions — lumbar, thoracic, and cervical. The classes still follow the basic sequencing — Awakening of the Senses, Spinal Motions, and either standing or floor work — but the stimulation to the nervous system is more gentle and gradual. GYROKINESIS® Essentials of Spinal Motions Part 1 is perfect for beginner level students and also for experienced people who enjoy deepening the work. This approach allows us to discover more about the internal process of elongating the spine and how to best prepare our bodies for energetic awakenings. The formats also work beautifully as a warm-up for private sessions or group classes — either GYROTONIC® or GYROKINESIS® — and they shed some more light on the concepts of Narrowing the Pelvis and Supple-ing.

GYROKINESIS® Essentials for the Community

MOVE clients and the greater community are invited to join us as Alicia teaches her Essentials classes throughout her weekend training. Each class will explore a different aspects of spinal motions — lumbar, thoracic, and cervical. The classes still follow the basic sequencing — Awakening of the Senses, Spinal Motions, and either standing or floor work — but the stimulation to the nervous system is more gentle and gradual. GYROKINESIS® Essentials of Spinal Motions Part 1 is perfect for beginner level students and also for experienced people who enjoy deepening the work. Choose to attend one class or join us for all three.

  • WHEN: October 1–3, 2021 at MOVE Wellness Studios
  • WHO: MOVE clients and the greater community
  • COST: $45 per class.
    • Lumbar spine: Friday, October 1, 12:00–2:00 p.m.
    • Thoracic spine: Saturday, October 2, 10:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.
    • Cervical spine: Sunday, October 3, 9:00–11:00 a.m.


About Alicia Head

Alicia Head Portrait

Alicia Head became a GYROKINESIS® master trainer in 2004. She studied exclusively with Juliu Horvath throughout the entire process and has also taken many continuing education courses with him including Happy Moves, Lotus Blossom #1 and #2, the GYROKINESIS® Breathing Course Intensive, GYROKINESIS® Level 2, the Archway, and the Jumping Stretching Board.  Ms. Head’s mind-body movement journey began as a Pilates student at St. Francis Memorial Hospital’s Dance Medicine division, where her main teachers were Elizabeth Larkam and Nora St. John. Alicia later studied closely with Marie-José Blom at her Long Beach Dance Conditioning studio in Long Beach, CA where the approach to movement was depth-oriented. Great attention was given to the concept of core stabilization involving a dynamic process free of bracing or rigidity. Alicia has taught GYROKINESIS® Level 1 Foundation Teacher Training courses for 14 years and has observed the need for material that explores the principles of the GYROTONIC® method that is accessible to all people. She was delighted to connect with Gina Muensterkoetter and become part of her project to offer new GYROKINESIS® formats to the international community. GYROKINESIS® Essentials — A Journey of Spinal Motions Part 1 was finalized in March 2017 and Alicia is honored to be on the teaching team.

Register Today!

Please contact us with any questions. Online registration is available by clicking the buttons below. You may also register by calling us at 734-224-2560 or in-person at the studio.

The latest blog from Elaine Economou is now posted on the popular website Sixty and Me.

What is GYROKINESIS® Exercise?

Maybe you’ve heard of Gyrokinesis exercise, but aren’t exactly sure what it entails. You might be wondering what it’s all about and how it might benefit you. Elaine’s blog will cover:

  • What Is Gyrokinesis exercise?
  • The benefits of Gyrokinesis exercise
  • Why try a Gyrokinesis Exercise Class
  • How to access a free Gyrokinesis class trial

Check out this Youtube video to learn more!

Why try a GYROKINESIS® Exercise Class

Read the full blog to learn more about the benefits of this wonderful movement system. Gyrokinesis classes are an efficient, effective, and safe way to increase your flexibility, develop your core, and release tension. Classes can be adapted to people of all ages with a wide range of abilities from fitness enthusiasts to those just starting out.

You CAN Start Now

We offer in-studio Gyrokinesis and Gyrotonic Tower classes. Click the button below to see the schedule and sign up!

An In-Depth Guide to Building Muscle After 50: Core Exercises for Men When You Can No Longer Workout the Way You Used To

Wait. I’m over 50? How did that happen?! Can this be right? Sigh, I think it is… A lot of us grew up on a football field, both playing and watching on Sunday nights. The baseball diamond was our favorite pastime, live or on the radio. TV’s Wide World of Sports gave us the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. Those were all mountains we could climb and conquer effortlessly, but now some of these challenges are chillingly reminiscent of that skier wiping out on national TV.

Rumination on Fitness After 50

As we get older we can be more prone to injury, which can slow if not derail an exercise program. Approaching exercise as if we were still suiting up for the Friday night game of our youth can often result in painful and sometimes dangerous injuries. Whether in the weight room or the crossfit class, overtraining may lead to (*ahem, middle-aged) types of injuries. Rotator cuffs, torn meniscuses, and plantar fasciitis to name a few, can range from disruptions to unemployment.

A group of men participating in a Pilates mat class

As we age it is also more difficult to build muscle. (Sadly, it seems super easy to gain fat, though, which is totally unfair.) In order to combat both negatives, movement remains the key, but careful self-assessment and exercising in smarter ways are in order. We may have to shift away from higher impact exercise to more consistent, gentler forms like walking or swimming. While healthy, some men find that this adjustment is tough on the mind because it becomes an admission of aging. Fortunately, just because we cannot workout like we used to, it does not follow that we cannot strengthen and condition the body after 50. Starting with core training, or strengthening the muscles of the abdomen, spine and pelvis is a great way to ensure that you get fit safely.

How do I strengthen my core?

Our core really is the central command in our body. Working from the inside out, all the movements we do in exercise and daily life have a foundation in our core. Motion either begins in, or moves through our core. Keeping that foundation strong ensures that as we move through life, everything outward will be supported. There are both fitness and real-life benefits to keeping our core strong. Think about all the times in your day you reach, turn, bend, or lift something. Your core is the not-so-secret helper supporting all of that movement. Whether you’re sitting at a desk, putting away groceries, playing golf with friends, or taking a hike in the woods your body needs stability and mobility. Like most things in the fitness world, there’s more than one way to reach our goals. The best movement is the one that you’ll actually stick with and enjoy!

What’s the best core workout?

So what’s the best way to keep our core strong and working hard for us? A classic Google search mostly reveals top-ten type lists of specific exercises we can do. 

The most common core exercises for men include:

  • Planks
  • Bridges
  • Crunches
A group of men's participating in a Pilates mat class

Some great studio or gym-based workouts with core strengthening benefits include:

In particular though, let’s talk about these last two types of strengthening and conditioning systems on this list that, while not new, are newer to men. Pilates and GYROTONIC® are growing in popularity among men of all ages who want to build muscle and strengthen their core. These exercise systems offer improved balance, sure-footedness, reduced back pain, greater flexibility, and so much more. 

These workouts support other fun activities, add to our quality of life, and keep us moving pain free. Other activities that complement these workouts include:

  • Golf
  • Dancing
  • Tennis
A man working out with a personal trainer on the Pilates Reformer


Pilates was created by Joseph Pilates starting as early as the 1920s. His thinking about fitness began with how to help injured soldiers and was also influenced by ancient statues of Gods and their musculature. He even studied the movements of animals in designing his exercises.

Pilates is a system designed to help you strengthen and mobilize your body. There are a variety of exercises that target strength and mobility for the whole body, always initiating with the core. They can be done on a mat or unique equipment strategically designed to allow for the fullest expression of movement. Some pieces of equipment you would likely find in your session include the Reformer, Cadillac, chair, and barrel.

Man working out on the Pilates Cadillac with a personal trainer

In any session, including an introductory session, the trainer will aim to move you through all possible planes of movement of the spine if possible. Your session will include exercises that move the spine forward and back, sideways, and rotating into a spiral. You will also be taught to stabilize your spine and pelvis using your core.

This innovative mind-body system of exercise continues to grow in popularity. Pilates is practiced by many professional athletes from a variety of sports, including Lebron James, Jake Arrieta, Martellus Bennett, and Auston Matthews to name a few. Pilates is also a safe and effective program that can be used to great effect by men over 50 to support fitness routines and recreation. Whatever your conditioning goal, Pilates is an efficient, effective, and safe way to increase your mobility, strengthen, develop your core, and release tension. 

Three men doing an arm workout on the Pilates Reformer

Benefits of Pilates for Men

We can’t all be Lebron James (and I can assure you that I am not) when we head out to play basketball, but we can all experience the benefits of Pilates for men. My personal experience with Pilates is that it is a challenging workout that focuses on building core strength and overall strength and mobility in the body. It really hones in on what some guys my age are going through and supports our other active life pursuits. In addition to the muscle strengthening of a session, it also focuses on creating and improving flexibility and balance. These are not easy workouts. The focus and control you need to practice the exercises makes this system unique and efficient. Other benefits of Pilates include injury prevention and recovery (and not injury production).

Best Pilates Exercises for Strengthening Your Core

A great place to start? Follow along with this simple 15-minute Men’s Core Session video. It doesn’t take long to get that core active and working hard! This workout is a great way to start your day or unwind in the evening.


Or, here are a few of our favorite Pilates core exercises for men to get you started at home. Try adding them to your regular workout routines.

The Hundred

Core Exercises for Men Series: The Hundred
  • Start lying on a firm surface, legs together knees bent, feet flat.
  • Inhale to prepare, exhale to deepen abdominals to imprint and lift legs, either together, or one at a time to tabletop. 
  • Inhale to lengthen the back of neck and nod chin gently. Exhale flex up through upper thoracic, keeping lower tips of scapulae on floor, extend legs to straight (or when just starting out, keep knees bent or on the floor).
  • Begin pulsing the arms. Inhale for five counts and five pulses of the arms. Exhale for five counts and five pulses of the arms. Repeat 10 times for a total of 100 pulses
  • One last inhale to stay lifted as legs fold into tabletop and exhale to lower down of upper body in a controlled way.

Single-Leg Stretch

Core Exercises for Men Series: Single Leg Stretch
  • Start lying on a firm surface, legs together knees bent, feet flat on the floor.
  • Inhale to prepare, exhale to deepen abdominals to imprint and lift legs, either together, or one at a time to tabletop.
  • Inhale to lengthen the back of neck and nod chin gently. Exhale flex up through upper thoracic, keeping lower tips of scapulae on floor, hands reaching by knees. Inhale to stay.
  • Exhale to extend one leg to straight, tapping hands to sides of bent knee or, for a challenge, outside hand to ankle, inside hand to knee.
  • Inhale to begin exchange of legs, and exhale to extend the other leg.
  • Repeat 6-10 times on each side.
  • Inhale to fold legs to tabletop and exhale to lower down with control.

Side Leg Kick

Core Exercises for Men Series: Side Leg Kick
Core Exercises for Men Series: Side Leg Kick Forward
  • Start lying on side with spine long, legs straight at an angle slightly forward of the torso, top leg at hip level. Bottom leg can be bent if needed for balance. Head can either rest on hand, or arm can be long or folded on the floor to make a support for the head.
  • Inhale to sweep the top leg forward with foot flexed for two gentle pulses, only as far as neutral spine can be maintained.
  • Exhale to point foot and sweep leg to back for one long reach, maintaining neutral spine.
  • Keep hips stacked straight and not allowed to roll forward or back.
  • Don’t allow the rib cage to pop forward, especially when the leg goes back.
  • Complete 8-10 repetitions and then repeat on the other side.


Another great option for core exercises for men is GYROTONIC® Exercise. This is a less well known type of workout, not having the current popular reach of Pilates. It is nonetheless an up and coming program worth trying that offers up movement fusion of yoga, ballet, tai chi, gymnastics, and swimming. 

The GYROTONIC EXPANSION SYSTEM® method was created by Juliu Horvath beginning about 40 years ago. While it may sound foreign to those that grew up on a weight bench, GYROTONIC® exercise allows users to stretch and strengthen muscles, while simultaneously stimulating and strengthening connective tissues in and around the joints of the body for full body benefit. The exercises involve a series of circular and fluid movements on weight and pulley-based machines coordinated with breathing patterns to support aerobic and cardiovascular health. All this in one workout package. What’s not to like?

Benefits of GYROTONIC® Exercise for Men

In 2016, British tennis great Andy Murray credited GYROTONIC® exercise with helping him back to Wimbledon after his back surgery. For the rest of us, we can access a long list of benefits for daily life including:

  • Strong, lean muscles.
  • Increased flexibility, coordination, and balance.
  • Enhanced joint mobility and articulation.
  • Ease of movement.
  • Increased circulation of blood, lymphatic fluids, and energy.
An older gentleman working out with a private trainer on the GYROTONIC Tower

In addition, GYROTONIC® Exercise:

  • Complements/supplements physical therapy and other rehabilitative bodywork.
  • Helps slow the aging process through mental and physical stimulation and regeneration.
  • Relieves low back pain and the postural effects of sitting.
  • Improves mind-body focus, concentration and coordination.

GYROTONIC® training is also beneficial to men of a “certain” age, as it relates to building strength, balance, and flexibility while preventing injury and supporting life’s activities. For me, GYROTONIC® exercise just feels good. That doesn’t mean it’s easy, I feel like the spiraling movements strengthen my whole body instead of one muscle group at a time. That is different than what I have been used to in the gym. I do it weekly and during periods of time when I can’t, I definitely feel worse for the wear. 

Strengthening Your Core After 50

I’ve been doing both Pilates and GYROTONIC® exercise for 5 years now.  While I am still an amateur and still appear that way on the equipment, I can say that they have both improved my quality of movement and life. I simply feel better when I am exercising in these ways. Whether you are a lumberjack or a desk jockey, you will notice how these methods bring daily improvement.

Two men working out with a trainer on the Pilates Reformer

You Can Start Now

Pilates and GYROTONIC® exercise are both effective functional training methods to support your life’s activities as you celebrate more birthdays. 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.

A group of men exercising on the Pilates Reformer

About the Author: Patrick J. Conlin Jr.

Patrick Conlin was raised in the Ann Arbor area and is a Circuit Court Judge in Washtenaw County. Patrick is the guy you can all relate to reading this blog. He’s reached that over-50 stage in life where he can’t work out the way he used to, but knows firsthand how important movement is and has 3 sons to keep up with. Spoiler alert…If you didn’t already know, Patrick is also MOVE co-founder Elaine Economou’s husband. He has been doing PIlates for more than 20 years. Basically, as long as he’s known Elaine. He added Gyrotonic to his workout mix around the time MOVE Wellness opened 6 years ago. Patrick knows the value of exercise and the powerful impact it has on his life and longevity. 


Originally published on All About Ann Arbor (A4) February 2019, and updated July 2020.

Health experts are saying “sitting is the new smoking” for good reason. Try these exercises and stretches for people who sit all day.

There is mounting evidence​ that suggests the cumulative effects of sitting, either at a desk all day or because of a sedentary lifestyle, can have a negative impact on health. In addition to musculoskeletal issues, people who sit all day are more likely to suffer from obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular issues, metabolic disorders, cancer and early mortality. 

Exercising every day may not be enough

Say you ride your bike to and from work, but sit for most of the day at work and log a couple of hours on the couch in the evening. Some researchers call this the “Active Couch Potato” and stress that even though you might be reaching your daily exercise quota, it doesn’t outweigh the “deleterious health consequences of prolonged sitting time.” 

The call to MOVE more

Simply put, our bodies are not meant to be still for long periods. I know I am oversimplifying, but I think of it like this: The body is a comprehensive system which operates on the basis of circulation to stimulate the various systems and tissues to keep you healthy. Circulation is stimulated by movement. When our hearts beat faster, we increase circulation, and when we are still, circulation slows down (sort of like when your hand or foot “falls asleep”).

These are two extreme cases, but imagine your liver or kidneys slowing down from poor circulation. Now imagine that cumulative effect over months or years and it’s easier to see how our “system” for optimal health can be compromised by being sedentary.  
Taking frequent movement breaks is one part of the answer. Current recommendations vary from moving once every 20 minutes to once every hour ​at a minimum

Genetic vs. cultural posture (A.K.A. Ouch, my back hurts!)

As a Pilates and ​GYROTONIC® ​Exercise trainer, I see the impact of prolonged sitting on the human body all the time. At my studio, one of the first questions we ask clients when they meet us for the first session is how long they sit. If we know that they’re sitting the majority of the day (or standing with bad posture), we expect to hear and see some or all of the following effects of sitting too long: 

  • Low back pain from the compressive forces on the spine and the position of the pelvis while seated. 
  • Shoulder or rotator cuff issues from “computer posture” pulling your shoulders forward and changing the alignment of the shoulder joint. 
  • Neck strain from alignment issues in the spine and adjusting the eyes to see a screen or phone. 
  • Weak muscles in the upper back from “computer posture.”  
  • Tight and short hip flexors, which can play a role in low back pain. 

Each of us has a unique skeleton, which I call our “genetic posture.” Our genetic posture plays a role in the impact of sitting on our skeletal muscles and alignment. If you combine this genetic posture with our “cultural posture” or lifestyle (i.e. what we do all day and love to do for movement) you can see that creating a movement plan unique to you requires some intentional planning and understanding of yourself.  

A three-step solution to sitting too much

1. Reduce 

​Think honestly about how long you sit each day. Include car trips, commuting, desk time and end-of-day relaxation. See if there are natural ways to break up the time you spend sedentary, and then decide how often you will commit to getting up and moving around. Add reminders in your phone or computer.  

If you’re an evening sitter, perhaps you add one small movement activity then. Here in Ann Arbor, there’s no way an evening walk appeals to me in winter, but I commit to moving around my home more. If I can, I schedule a couple of extra evening exercise classes each week until the weather warms up.  

2. Strategize

Focusing on some key areas of your body with specific exercises can help you mitigate the effects of sitting on your spine, shoulders, hips and back. Below are simple stretches that are safe to repeat throughout your day to help keep your postural muscles active and your body balanced. Be sure to include a well-rounded workout routine that includes mobility, strength and cardio-training.  

3. Vary

Vary your position throughout the day. If you can, stand (with good posture!) for part of your work day and shift your weight gently to keep moving. You may love to do something like running, dance, yoga or walking, so bring more of it into your life. If movement is tough because of an ache or a pain, see your doctor to get some support. Quite often, adding a regular mindful movement program like Pilates—which builds mobility, flexibility, and strength—can help you unravel your issues and keep you safe and injury-free.  

Easy Activity Breaks After Sitting Too Long

We’re sharing a short video with 9 exercises perfect for maintaining movement throughout your spine. Once you are familiar with these exercises, you can effortlessly vary your routine. Use the exercises separately to insert feel-good breaks for your mind and body as needed throughout the day. Be sure that one or more of your daily breaks includes a brisk walk!


Positive effects to last a lifetime

Taking time and care to move during the day will create positive effects over a lifetime and help you continue to be active in ways that you love. Ready for more? Visit our YouTube Channel for a variety of workout options or register for one of our livestream classes.

MOVE Wellness can help you improve mobility, flexibility and strength. You can start now with an in-studio introductory session or a free trial of our livestream class offerings.

Elaine Economou is co-founder, President & CEO of MOVE Wellness Studios Fitness & Wellness, located in Ann Arbor, MI. Elaine holds certification through the Pilates Method Alliance, STOTT PILATES and the GYROTONIC® and GYROKINESIS® Methods. She has received additional training as a Wellcoaches™ trained Wellness Coach and TRX Suspension Trainer and Total Barre Instructor.



Gyms have come a long way in the last couple decades. Big, beautiful facilities with pretty reasonable fees and equipped with all the bells and whistles: pool, steam room, hot tub, indoor tracks, child care, snack bars, and cardio equipment for miles, complete with a tiny personal tv for your viewing pleasure. So then, why do so many people seem to be turning to local boutique fitness studios for their personal health and wellness needs? It may come down to that one simple word: personal.

Creating a fitness studio built for you

It’s been nearly six years since my business partner Robin and I opened MOVE Wellness in Ann Arbor, Michigan. But before tackling this new venture, I spent 12 years teaching Pilates and GYROKINESIS® at a large fitness center in the small town where I live. 

It was a big, lovely facility serving somewhere around 2,500 members and had every amenity and piece of gym equipment you could possibly desire. The warm, cushy seating area with fireplace, coupled with the snack bar and daycare, gave me a place to safely park my young boys for an hour while I taught class. The gym staff and management were personable and caring toward all of the members and I loved how often I ran into friends and fellow community members there.

For many people, the affordability of the membership and convenience of the full-service facility were a perfect solution for exercise classes and personal fitness options. And yet, there were two primary things that kept nagging at me as I observed the hundreds of members moving through their daily routines there over the years: 1) They were all being handed a one-size-fits-all fitness solution and 2) None of them seemed meaningfully connected to their own bodies and wellness while there. 

Fitness studios built for you

Any physical movement should be enjoyable. Even if you’re challenging yourself and focusing on weight loss or strength training, you still need to enjoy what you’re doing and want to keep doing it in order to accomplish your goals.

Most days, when I would walk through the cardio and equipment areas at my gym, I’d see person after person looking somewhat pained and even unhappy as they went about their  treadmill routine or circuit training all in the name of personal well-being and health. I’d also see lots of little things that I could easily help them adjust or correct in order to keep them safe, help them maximize their workouts, and understand how their bodies were supposed to feel while doing that work correctly. But the rhythm and environment of those larger gym spaces aren’t really set up for that kind of one-on-one support and guidance. 

As someone who grew up dancing and learned to love moving my body at an early age, I decided that I could offer people something better. While we teach specific movement practices like Pilates, yoga, GYROKINESIS® and GYROTONIC® at our studio, the goal is to use those forms to empower people of any age and fitness level to be strong, healthy and capable of moving in ways that make them happy—walking, running, gardening, crafting, dancing, morel mushroom foraging, or whatever it may be. 

Further, I wanted to create a space for people who wanted to be empowered in that way. A smaller fitness studio is designed for people who want to know why certain things are hurting or affecting their lives in the ways that they are, and get expert help in unraveling those issues and developing a better understanding of what safe, strong, effective activity and exercise should feel like.

In that spirit, here are a few key things to consider when deciding if a large gym or boutique fitness studio is right for you:

Fitness memberships: Cost vs. value

The affordability of a traditional gym membership is of course one of the primary reasons that many people choose larger centers. However, the only reason those centers are able to offer those reasonable membership fees is because their business model relies on as many as 50% of their members never actually coming to the gym. Yes, you’re going to pay a little more for a membership at a smaller fitness studio. But, as is the case with so many other things that really matter in life (like your health), you get what you pay for. 

When you choose a boutique studio, you’re paying for personalized service and a depth of expertise that you simply won’t get at a big gym. Smaller studios typically hire stronger caliber instructors and trainers, many of whom have the advanced training and education to address the needs of people recovering from injuries and surgeries or with conditions like osteoporosis. Many small studios like ours also spend time cultivating close relationships with fellow healthcare providers and local experts to offer you a more comprehensive network of wellness support. 

Small group training vs. large fitness class size

Yes, when you just want to go move your body, have some fun and not really worry about what you’re doing and why, a room full of people with loud music can be a lot of fun. And those kind of fitness classes have their place. But when it comes to technique, proper form, personal goals and safe movement principles, smaller class sizes with six to eight people are where you want to be. 

Movement systems like Pilates and GYROKINESIS®, and even yoga, are only effective if instructors have the time and space to connect with you individually and clearly communicate the fundamentals of those exercises. Smaller class sizes are efficient. They help get you moving correctly and feeling stronger more quickly. In a nutshell: They help you move and work smarter, not harder.

A fitness plan with structure and accountability 

Despite good intentions and the best efforts, larger gyms are not equipped to offer personal accountability for their members. To really offer that personalized support and connection that most of us need, trainers need time to listen to you and to get to know your individual body, needs, and lifestyle. While a large gym may offer variety and convenience, including personal training, they are not designed to help you create a customized fitness routine and wellness plan and support you as you progress toward individual goals or adjust accordingly as your needs change.

Small wellness studios create meaningful community

For the last several years, countless scientific studies have confirmed that longevity and social interaction are connected. Loneliness and lack of community are now considered major risk factors for our long term health and wellness. And while larger fitness clubs and gyms can and do offer plenty of opportunities to see and be around other people, those interactions aren’t always as deep and meaningful as they could be. 

In some cases, a larger fitness center catering to hundreds of people of all ages and types can feel like more of a quantity versus quality type experience. Whereas smaller boutique studios often shape their business models and services around creating meaningful interaction between trainers and clients and rich community among those clients.

Doing what’s right for you and your body

You know yourself better than anybody. And you deserve fitness and wellness solutions that work for you. And the reality is that what may work for you today, may not be what worked for you five or 10 years ago, or what will work for you five or 10 years from now. 

Take the time to assess what you have going on, what your needs are, what your goals are, what your lifestyle is like right now. Take the time to research the options available to you. Swing by and visit the gyms and studios near you, talk to the people who work there, the people who are members there, and see which fit is right for you. 

Ready to get your own personal fitness plan rolling? 

Sign up for an introductory package today, call 734-224-2560, or email us to chat about your options, or stop by the studio to say hello in person.

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.