What the heck is gyrotonic, and why is it good for you?

Gyrotonic is a seated and mat-based exercise program that promotes stretching and strengthening of muscles. — Photo courtesy of Studio 107

Ever heard the phrase “no pain no gain?” We use the phrase like a mantra in our gyms, but should exercise really hurt?

According to Billy Macagnone, owner of the New York City Body Evolutions studio in Manhattan, “If it doesn’t feel good, then stop doing it.” This is just one of the theories behind gyrotonic, “a moving conditioning system,” which Mr. Macagnone says is, “based on principles of yoga, dance, tai-chi, and swimming.”

Gyrotonic, and its relative gyrokinesis (see details below on Island classes) fall under an exercise system founded more than 40 years ago by professional dancer Juliu Horvath. The method is a seated and mat-based movement class where postures are not held for long periods of time but are smoothly and harmoniously connected through the use of breath-enhancing aerobic and cardiovascular techniques, allowing users to stretch and strengthen muscles, while simultaneously stimulating and strengthening connective tissues in and around the joints of the body.

“The benefits of gyrotonic are tremendous,” according to Mr. Macagnone, who studied under Juliu Horvath. “It goes back to an old theory that gentle movement benefits the whole nervous system.”

Gyrokinesis instructor Valerie Sonnenthal of Chilmark has enlisted Mr. Macagnone to teach a three-day workshop on the Island. The workshop is 10 am to 1 pm, September 20, 21, 22 at the Chilmark Community Center. The cost is $50 per day or $135 for three days. There will be a free 20-minute class offered daily at 9:15 am, before the workshop. For more information on the workshop, call 212-375-0430.

Looking for other ways to stay fit indoors?

Try joining a jump rope team

The Island Whirlwinds are a growing jump rope team that may put on demonstrations and eventually compete. Learn jump roping tricks such as skier, criss-cross, double-dutch. Participate in individual and group routines to music. Gymnasts and jump rope enthusiasts of all ages are welcome (geared towards students in grades 1-12). Practices will be held at the Vineyard Workout and Tennis Center, on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4 to 5pm, starting September 10. For more information and to register, call Susan Waldrop at 973-879-9813 or the Vineyard Workout and Tennis Center at 508-696-8000.

Be strong, and prove it

B-Strong in Oak Bluffs is offering a free one-month membership to anyone who completes one of the three “B-Strong Challenges.” Fitness freaks can choose from either a full body challenge, a strength endurance challenge, or a cardiovascular challenge, but here’s the catch: you don’t find out the test until after you’ve accepted. “Good luck and bring it on,” says B-Strong’s website. For more information, call 508-693-5997 or visit b-strong.com.

Boot yourself into shape

There are two week boot camp workshops starting at the YMCA of M.V. on Oct 7-18 and Oct 21-November 1. Classes run from 6-7 am or 11:30 am-12:30 pm. If you’re bored with your workout routine, or just need a little extra motivation, boot camp style group exercises are a great way to mix it up through body weight and resistance training. “Boot Camp workouts are an efficient way to work the entire body,” the YMCA’s website says. “Workouts combine interval exercises, circuit stations and sports drills to offer a total body workout for any person who is ready to take their fitness to the next level.” Rates start at $100. For more information, call 508-696-7171 or visit ymcamv.org.

Not ready to give up on outdoor fall fun? There’s still plenty of active outdoor events happening on Martha’s Vineyard.

Saturday, September 21

Autumnal Equinox Walk 10–11:30 am, Felix Neck, Edgartown. Members free, non-members $5. Come walk during the fall equinox, when the day and night are the same length. 508-627-4850. massaudubon.org/felixneck.

Sunday, September 22

Fall Equinox Yoga 10–11:30 am, Felix Neck, Edgartown. Members $10, non-members $15. In the field with Josey Kirkland. Bring water and a mat or towel. Dress appropriately, as this is an outdoor class. 508-627-4850. massaudubon.org/felixneck

Sunday, October 27

23rd Annual CROP Walk 2 pm, St. Augustine’s Church, Vineyard Haven. Walk to Trinity Methodist Parish in Oak Bluffs, and back, or any part thereof. Fundraiser for Island Food Pantry and Church World Service. Check in at 1:25 pm in church basement. 508-693-3930.