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Body By Machine: Megaformer™ vs. Gyrotonic®

It may come as no surprise that Pilates has remained popular for so long. The body-sculpting workout is notorious for helping achieve muscle definition and improved posture, fashioning a long and lean appearance for users.

Several studios in Columbus are featuring amped-up versions of Pilates, sometimes called “Pilates on crack,” which utilize different machine-centered workouts that will test the body with resistance weight you can’t get from the mat alone.

Both the Megaformer™ and GYROTONIC® will get your heart rate up with slow and controlled movements.

Megaformer™
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The Butcher Shop Fitness
780 South High St.
Columbus, OH 43206

Created by popular celebrity fitness trainer Sebastien Lagree, this machine was invented to combine strength training, cardio, endurance, balance, core and flexibility. The design changes continually through evolving research in an effort to produce a workout that’s effective.

One 50-minute session on the Megaformer™ M3 will give you total-body toning, torching calories, building muscles and lowering body-fat percentage. By combining resistance and counter-resistance in one workout, it allows for peak muscle contraction. This low-impact workout focuses on slow and controlled movements.

“If you’re moving slow, what happens is you’re tiring out the bigger muscle fibers, the fast-twitch ones, and you’re activating all the slower ones, and that tends to give you a smoother and leaner, more tapered body,” said Jon Benowitz, co-owner of The Butcher Shop Fitness in German Village, one of the only studios in Ohio to offer this machine.

The carriage and two-platform machine has a spring system underneath that adds tension to the carriage so it moves in and out, either with the tension or against it, creating the resistance and counter-resistance system. This creates a much different workout depending on which side of the machine you’re using.

While working with the tension, you’re forced to focus on balance, but while working against it, you will build strength. The difference in this workout is that you move slow, keeping constant tension on the muscles, which engages more muscle fibers. The goal is to eliminate any rest points, in combination with quick transitions from exercise to exercise to keep the heart rate up, creating a cardio workout in combination with the strength and balance training.

Benowitz said you can expect to see results in as little as three sessions because of a concept called progressive overloading, meaning the workout attacks the same muscle group or nearby muscle groups for multiple exercises to fully exhaust that area. Muscles will adapt and get stronger faster.

More than 800 different exercises can be performed on the Megaformer™ M3, and each class averages about 20-25. The different variations within each exercise help keep the program interesting. The fundamentals remain the same from class to class to build muscle memory, but instructors add in new exercises to allow the muscles to adapt, a process called muscle confusion.

This workout was designed for both men and women with room for modifications to accommodate any injury, so instructors feel anyone is capable of performing the exercises.

GYROTONIC®
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The Pilates Studio
228 W. Main St.
Bexley, OH 43209

1700 W. Lane Ave.
Upper Arlington, OH 43221

Body Pure Pilates and Wellness
200 W. Johnstown Road
Columbus, OH 43230

Focused Fitness
272 Hanover St.
Columbus, OH 43215

Combining yoga, Tai Chi and dance, the GYROTONIC® method is a unique flow of circular movements. Designed by former professional dancer Juliu Horvath, this machine was created to move the body in its natural arching and spiraling path.

The idea is that the movement massages and lubricates the joints and creates a sense of openness. Once you become comfortable in the movements, you synchronize your breathing pattern to enhance the aerobic and cardiovascular stimulation.

“A lot of people that start GYROTONIC® say that their entire system, as far as all their organs, start to correlate. Their digestive system starts to feel better … imagine that you’re always in this [hunched over] position, organs are getting pushed on, and then when you add correct posture to the spine it’s going to help free up some space. There’s a lot of benefits more than just physical strength and muscle flexibility,” said Katie Baker, a GYROTONIC® instructor at The Pilates Studio.

A session may involve the equipment coupled with Gyrokinesis, typically performed on a stool or mat, especially in the first few sessions when you are becoming acclimated with the technique. Here you will learn the foundation of the movements.

The GYROTONIC EXPANSION SYSTEM® helps to increase the capacity of the spine, working the body on a three-dimensional plane. The pulley-tower design allows for smooth and even supported resistance with bar and weight-strap work to target specific areas.

It is used in conjunction with the bench, which has its own wheeled-pulley system that allows for curling and arching of the entire upper body. Primarily, you will work the abdominals and spine throughout each exercise, with the other parts of the body serving secondary or supporting roles.

This workout will give you a full, natural range of motion, taking you through one entire fluid movement, eliminating the stop-and-start method of other weight machines.

During a session on the expansion system, think of your body twisting in a motion that encourages the spine to spiral upward, moving from a twist to one side, back to the center, and then a twist to the opposite side.

GYROTONIC® classes can be adapted for any age and capability range, working whichever part of the body you will benefit from most. It will correct many problems with posture, like a rib cage sagging toward the hips from being hunched over at a desk.

Though you will strengthen the body and improve balance and flexibility, it’s a much gentler workout than some others. Instructors say that anyone can benefit from the GYROTONIC® workout. All exercises can be modified or eliminated based on a client’s medical history.

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