An Interview with Pino Carbone

Gyrotonics master, inventor of training system ‘Bodycode’

Editorial Staff
April 5, 2007

Gyrotonics master Pino Carbone studied ballet from the time he was an infant. He danced professionally throughout the world, in places like Hong Kong, Finland, and New York City. He was born into a family of dancers; his uncle of the same name worked as headmaster for La Scala’s ballet in Milan. In 2004, Carbone was awarded Geneva’s international inventor’s prize for designing equipment that improves the ‘biological mechanics’ of athletes and ballerinas. His training system, Bodycode, is part of the BostonBalletSchool’s course work and was adopted in 2005 as the Chinese National Dance Company’s official method. Twenty years ago, after a career as a dancer and choreographer abroad, Carbone returned to Italy to introduce Gyrotonics to Florence. His studio, Il Vortice, is the oldest Gyrotonics studio in the world.


Why did you leave dance to start ‘training’?


I had become tired of not having roots and of moving to a different city or country every year or so. I was already doing Gyrotonics with Juliu Horvath, the movement’s founder, but I wanted to settle down and open my own studio. Friends in San Francisco offered to give me a place, and I thought seriously of going there. But I realized that if I did, I’d never really live in Italy again.


You were born in Sicily; why did you choose to come to Florence?


Well, I came here for two main reasons. I knew I was offering a service that was the only one of its kind in Italy. I really wanted to make it possible for people, especially dancers, to come from both Milan and Rome to study. I chose Florence for its central location. And in fact, dancers continue to come from all over Italy to work with me. The second reason I came to Florence is for its beauty.  I work with the body in a very artistic way. To me, the body is the greatest work of art. I’m constantly inspired by Michelangelo, who created his greatest works thanks to his study of the human body. That’s how I feel when I work with my clients—I help shape their bodies into works of art.


Tell us about Gyrotonics.  What is it exactly and how is it different from Pilates?


If you look at working out, there are really only two new methods other than weight training: Pilates and Gyrotonics. Pilates works with linear motion. If you look at its ‘reformer’ equipment, you’ll see that it’s very square and straight. But, in reality, the body has circular joints, so Pilates, although a very beneficial exercise, doesn’t really correspond to the natural physics of the body.   Gyrotonics is much more suited to dancers than weights or Pilates are. It prepares the body for a full range of motion. It’s very fluid, and when dancers use this technique, they not only became stronger, but they also develop leaner, longer muscles. Gyrotonics is a type of training that truly prevents injury and helps dancers have longer and safer careers. Too many ballet dancers suffer from crippling arthritis and joint injuries as a result of their years of dance.


I have great respect for Pilates; it has many strong points, especially the training of the core. And of course, I believe in the benefits of Gyrotonics. Once while speaking at a conference for people in the body disciplines, I noticed that the Pilates teachers all looked square and boxy, like the Pilates machine, the reformer. They looked like gymnasts, which is, in fact, what Joseph Pilates was.


Then I observed the rounded, almost sloppy, bodies of the Gyrotonics instructors. They all looked like hippies, which reflects the nature of Juliu Horvath, the creator of Gyrotonics! So I created Bodycode, which takes Gyrotonics to the next step. I realized that the thing I consider most important is posture. People are very interested in the impression they make on others—these days more than ever. They want to feel strong and healthy, and they want to project that image. Well, nothing says more about a person’s self-confidence than posture. In fact, we often judge a person’s position, class, self-dignity, attitude, and level of self-respect by their posture. I’ve developed a type of training that combines the best of both disciplines—the strong and straight element of Pilates and the fluid, graceful, free in movement of Gyrotonics.


What is the most important quality that you bring to your work?


First and foremost, experience. There are people who attend a weekend course and come out as ‘certified Pilates instructors’. That’s ridiculous and probably dangerous. I have to test a person’s body, see how they keep their balance and how they move. I observe how much weight they put on each foot as they stand or walk; this tells you how they ski or play golf or swim. Only then can I train them properly, so that they can improve dramatically in their sport—and do so without having knee or shoulder or back pain after a weekend tournament or every ski vacation. No matter the exercise, the most important thing is to execute it correctly, in the proper way. You need to know about the body, not just about the machines, in order to instruct someone in a powerful and effective way.

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