Kindred Kinespirits

Gyrotonics and Gyrokinesis: Join the Movement!
Last week, I had the wonderful opportunity to experience an innovative and unique exercise modality called Gyrotonics at Kinespirit: Gyrotonic and Pilates Studio in the heart of the Upper West Side of Manhattan. My personal experience with gyrotonics was fantastic. Chantal Deeble, the owner of Kinespirit: Gyrotonic and Pilates Studio, has artfully created an aesthetically pleasing studio that has a spa-esque feel to it, crisp, clean, and beautiful. Kitty Sailer, one of the instructors at the studio, spent a significant amount of time explaining the history and methodology of gyrotonics to me, and she patiently answered my many questions (ex. “What is the difference between pilates and gyrotonics?” Answer: Pilates is more two dimensional vs. gyrotonics is more three dimensional and functional.) Following my enlightening conversation with Kitty, I took Aubrey Kupstas’s beginner class. For someone who likes to consider herself in relatively decent shape, thank God, I found the class surprisingly challenging. (Note to self: running half marathons does not translate into or automatically equal coordinated multi-planar movement with proper breathing patterns!) Fortunately, Aubrey provided excellent verbal cues to keep me on track, and she patiently corrected me once or twice (or more) when my repetitive three dimensional patterns weren’t as smooth or fluid as they were supposed to be. After the class, I actually felt more aligned, more mobile, and more erect in standing.

Gyrotonics, a method created by Juliu Horvath, is also known as “Yoga for Dancers”. Horvath was born in Romania in 1942, and his athletic experiences include swimming, gymnastics, and ballet dancing with the Romanian State Opera. After encountering political challenges which included spending six months at a refugee camp in Italy, Horvath was granted asylum in the United States of America and spent time dancing with the New York City Opera and the Houston Ballet. Horvath sustained an Achilles tendon tear and herniated disc which terminated his career as a dancer, and he created the Gyrotonic Expansion System as a rehabilitation technique for his injuries over the course of six years while living in St. Thomas. Since then, he has refined the system and invented specialized equipment. The Gyrotonic system includes both gyrotonic exercise methods and gyrokineses. The goal of both methods is to improve the functional capacity and movement ability of the entire body, and they are founded upon principles similar to yoga, swimming, dance, gymnastics, and tai chi. The system focuses on coordinating breathing with continuous flowing movements. The four primary principles of the Gyrotonic Expansion System include intention, stabilization through contrast (aka finding balance between lengthening/reaching outward and tensing/pulling inward), decompression of the joints, and coordination of movement with breath. The many benefits of gyrotonics includes improved circulation, improved joint mobility, cardiovascular system enhancement, spinal mobilization, and improved proprioception, balance, and coordination. To experience the benefits of gyrotonics for yourself, I encourage you to explore the Kinespirit website at your leisure ( and to register for a class that fits your schedule. I look forward to hearing feedback about your experience!

“The octopus, the monkey and the cat are my basic models because they can move in any direction at any given time with strength and control because they have no restrictions. The human body has restrictions, but I can model the body ─ within the framework of its restrictions ─ to move in a similar way, to be free”- Juliu Horvath

A St-APP in the Right Direction

Smartphone Technology Meets Women’s Health

While many of us in the United States of America take advantage of our smartphone apps for conveniences which include online banking, social networking, and reading our favorite blogs, women in Uganda have recently started utilizing their smartphones for more basic healthcare related functions- testing for vaginal infections.  Thanks to Vaginosis Her Health/BVkit, women who cannot easily afford or who do not have easy access to gynecologists can perform an at home urine test which measures the pH level of their urine.  If the pH measured is too high or too low, the Vaginosis App will advise the individual to seek medical attention and provide physician recommendations.

This app enhances the women’s health progress that has already been made in Uganda in recent years.  In 2006, Dr. Ian Jacobs, Dean and Head of the School of Medicine at the University of Manchester, established the Uganda Women’s Health Initiative (UWHI), a collaborative project between Britain and Uganda with the goal of improving screening and treatment for women in Uganda.  Poor detection of infection, such as bacterial vaginosis, may result in pelvic inflammatory disease, miscarriages, and cervical cancer.  Cervical cancer is the leading cause of cancer related deaths amongst women in Uganda.  Prior to UWHI, approximately 2,464 of the 3,577 women diagnosed with cervical cancer annually in Uganda died from the disease.  Thanks to the efforts of Dr. Jacobs, improved screening techniques have enabled earlier detection and treatment of cancer.  In addition, postpartum hemorrhage (PPH), defined as loss of more than 500 ml of blood within the first 24 hours following childbirth, is a common and often fatal condition in Uganda.  PPH is often treated with oxytocic medications, and UWHI has increased the availability of misoprostol, a similar drug that can be self-administered.  Finally, UWHI has helped reduce brain damage in newborns through innovative brain cooling techniques, and it has empowered more women to seek medical attention in general.

While progress has clearly been made, nevertheless we still have a ways to go.  For starters, the entire premise of the BVkit app involves owning a smartphone, and at present only approximately 5% of women in Uganda own smartphones.  The apps designers hope and expect that these numbers will increase in the near future.  In the meantime, they are trying to share their app with women in other countries such as Nigeria and South Africa, where approximately 30% of women own smartphones.  Who knows what creative concepts are in technological store for women in the future?  I encourage you to share your ideas and suggestions…and if you end up winning a Nobel Prize someday, feel free to give me a shout out.