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A Trainer with an Empathy for Pain

  • Posted: Saturday, January 13, 2018


That new beautiful piece of equipment in the studio? It’s part of the GYROTONIC® method. You’ve had lots of questions, but rather than just explaining what the movements are, I want to tell you about how it can work miracles.

I sat down recently with our instructor, Mary Susan, and she told me the story of how she became devoted to the GYROTONIC® method. With her permission, here’s her story:

Mary Susan has always been athletic. She’s been a dancer since the age of 5 … Scottish Highlands dance, as a matter of fact, a very active and physical form of dance. She started competing in Premiere when she was 9 and won her first US Championship at 11. That was her life until she was 17, competing in Canada, Scotland and the United States. She was very physical and strong.

But, her shoulder hurt. Badly. Her dance teachers were on her about her shoulder’s position, saying it always looked strained.

Mary Susan stayed active. She moved on to modern dance, actively participated in show jumping horses, and graduated college with a double major in Dance and Theatre. Then she moved to New York City and attended the Limón Institute. She was on the path to becoming a professional dancer!

But, that shoulder — it still hurt. It felt weird. It always felt weird.

She had worked with a personal trainer to strengthen her shoulder — thinking her shoulders and her back might be weak. But, that wasn't it.

Then ... kismet. A fellow dancer-friend was working at the front desk of a GYROTONIC® studio while recovering from a knee injury. She had benefitted from the GYROTONIC® method (after doing physical therapy), and she highly recommended it to Mary Susan. In fact, she even got Mary Susan the same job there at the studio. As part of her pay, she would get a weekly session!

Unfortunately, though, the underlying problem was already worse than she realized. The morning after a dance company dress rehearsal, Mary Susan woke up and felt like her shoulder needed to pop. When she rotated it backward, it popped with the ferocity of white-hot pain, as though someone had stuck a kitchen knife in it — and twisted.

She grabbed her glasses (because up until that point, she really couldn’t see what might be going on), and discovered that her right arm was twice the size of her left! It was mottled with blue streaks, as though someone had grabbed her roughly by the arm. The veins in her chest poked out. Something was wrong. Really wrong.

The doctors at first were completely resistant to the idea that it could be a blood clot — Mary Susan was young; she was a vegetarian; she was a dancer. The tests were inconclusive. Even though the pain was intense, the doctors were 99% sure that it was a torn muscle or maybe an infection. They cleared her to fly home for a visit. But after flying, the pain intensified even more.

It was the kind of pain that has no relief … constant, whether she was asleep or awake, standing or lying down, nothing helped except for heat. But, she forged ahead … still doing her GYROTONIC® sessions. 

Many people don’t understand pain. Some thought she was a “weenie,” and even Mary Susan herself was beginning to feel like she wasn’t handling the pain as bravely as she should. But, her GYROTONIC® trainer, Esther Moreno (owner of Village GYROTONIC® in the Manhattan’s West Village) recognized that something was very wrong with Mary Susan's shoulder.

And then she started blacking out.

Mary Susan’s med-school husband insisted that she get examined again. At the hospital, the faces on the technicians who did the ultrasound on her chest told the whole story. “I have a blood clot, don’t I?” she asked.

“It’s huge,” they answered.

It turns out she had a huge DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis). The doctor said she had never seen anything like it in her 40 years of practicing medicine in New York City. Injectable blood thinners were prescribed immediately, followed by Warfarin, accompanied by painkillers.

Mary Susan curled up in a chair and cried. She was NOT a weenie! It truly had been a horrific pain she experienced, caused by something terrible. The clot was a result of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. In her case, a congenital narrowness in her neck muscles had crushed her veins and also her brachial plexus nerves as well. So, she not only had a blot clot, she also had nerve damage.

Instead of doing physical therapy, Mary Susan chose the GYROTONIC® method. She returned to Esther Moreno. Esther worked intensively with Mary Susan, gently working with her shoulder … taking the time to heal her.

A couple of months later, Mary Susan returned to the specialist. He examined her and was stunned — the muscles had loosened. “This is the best result I’ve ever seen! What are you doing?”

"GYROTONIC® Method," Mary Susan told him.

To which he replied, “I don’t know what that is, but keep doing it.” And, he wrote it down to recommend to the rest of his patients.

It was a miracle — not only a miracle that Mary Susan was recovering so well but also a miracle that the blood clot hadn’t killed her! One doctor believed that the beneficial movement from the early GYROTONIC® sessions had perhaps kept the blood clot from breaking off and causing a stroke.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Her recovery wasn’t over in a couple of months. It was a long road. The pain from the nerve damage continued for two years — the length of time it takes for nerves to heal. And unfortunately, the painkilling drugs continued as well. But, through all the drugs’ extreme side effects, Esther stuck with her. She kept working with Mary Susan, working with her, and working with her.

As Mary Susan says, “She healed me.”

That was when Mary Susan decided to become a trainer. I’ll share more of Mary Susan’s training philosophy with you in my next blog. But, I thought it was important that you know her story. This is what the GYROTONIC® method can do. And, who better to help you progress through your aches and injuries than someone who obviously has an amazing empathy for those in pain? She’s been there.


If you’d like to see more of the movements used in the GYROTONIC® method, watch this video provided by the GYROTONIC EXPANSION SYSTEM®.

But, rather than watch, why not experience it for yourself? To make it easy for you, we are offering your first session at a reduced price of $45. Click here for more information and to book your session. No matter your level of fitness, the GYROTONIC® method can be customized to your needs.


GYROTONIC®, GYROTONIC EXPANSION SYSTEM® AND GYROKINESIS® are registered trademarks of Gyrotonic Sales Corp and are used with their permission.

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