GTPulse: Maintain Physical Youthfulness with Mia Munroe at Movement in Action

My posture is terrible. I’m tall and used to slouching, and on top of that I spend half of my time at a desk and the other half standing behind a bar. Mia Munroe called me out before I could get 2 steps into her downtown Traverse City studio.

“Your posture,” she mused as she looked me up and down. “I can move you around.”

Mia is a Gyrotonic Method instructor at Movement In Action above Talbots on East Front Street. I’m a sucker for fitness ‘methods.’ I’ve followed the same Lotte Berk Method tapes since after high school and I really think there’s something inspiring about giving fitness programs a focus. Lotte Berk is the mother of barre and promises lean lines, lifted rears and even a better sex life. Gyrotonic Method is focused on opening the body’s pathways and creating more space, promising balance, efficiency, strength and flexibility.

“I have people come to me who have really messed themselves up,” Mia said.

The Gyrotonic equipment looks like medieval torture devices. The tall wooden structures with pulleys, ropes, sliding boards and bars are used in different ways to stretch out the back, waist, legs and hips. Mia often sees clients who have messed up their backs through years of poor posture or bad fitness form.

“These were the original equipment,” Mia said “these were the first machines I saw. Now they have these really modern looking, metal equipment pieces.”

While living in New York City and training as a ballet dancer she remembered seeing the twisty looking equipment while on her way to a stretch class.

“I was in New York going to a stretch class and I walked past all this weird looking equipment. Well, years later I saw that same equipment but there were classes to train instructors for it,”

She was retiring just as the method was being released in fitness studios and trained to become an instructor after falling in love with the way it made her feel.

“Pilates is about your core, Gyrotonic I describe as letting go and creating space between your joints and we do that through the equipment. You do these movements with a little bit of resistance just like you’re swimming. The guy who developed this was a ballet dancer, a swimmer, a gymnast and a woodworker.”

She moved to Traverse City because there was no Gyrotonic north of Grand Rapids. Movement in Action opened this past June and Mia has seen spikes in customer attendance.

“I’m expensive. That’s the thing,” she said.

With classes being anywhere from $65 to $90 for hour-long private sessions, they aren’t for the faint of heart or light of pocket. But Mia’s ideal client is someone older and more established with some money they can spend.

“Golfers can really benefit from these movements. People who haven’t thought about their flexibility in a long time can benefit, athletes benefit,”

Women, in particular, can benefit from another kind of class Mia teaches. She teaches pelvic floor health classes at Table Health in Traverse City. The class focuses on strengthening and protecting weak pelvic floors. 

“I see a lot of women over-kegeled but with no strength in their pelvic floor,”

Kegels tighten the lower portion of the pelvic floor but not the upper, so although they may help create a youthful sensation with intercourse, they’re not going to help prevent someone from peeing a bit while laughing or coughing. Not just women benefit from the class, either. Mia says that men need to think about protecting their pelvic floor muscles as well.

Mia moved me around on her Gyrotonic machines and I could feel the movements forcing my spine to lengthen and my calves to unkink. There’s a lot of circular movements and I could feel space opening between my shoulder blades and down my back. She told me I’d feel taller afterward and I did.

“When the muscles decompress like this, you feel it for a few days after,”

I am always worrying about the damage I’m doing or have done to my body as a young person. Movement in Action is something I would use to enhance my posture now as opposed to correct it later and if you’re looking for a way to maintain feeling youthful, or looking for a way to regain feelings of physical youth, see if any of Mia’s methods would work for you. It’s far from medieval torture.

Categories: GTPulse