Staying loose: Inala Movement Studio instructor helps older adults stay flexible


Leslie Whitesell knows how important movement is to stay flexible.

“As we’re aging, I can’t emphasize enough how important it is for people to keep moving,” she said.

Whitesell, a Carmel resident, opened Inala Movement Studio in Fishers in the summer of 2020.

She had lived in New York City for many years, working for two different studios. She then worked for a studio in Cincinnati before moving to the Indianapolis area. 

Whitesell teaches the GYROTONIC Method, which is trademarked by the company.

“It’s a method of teaching movement to basically anybody,” Whitesell said. “It helps with mobility as well as strength. It’s a combination of things, so you’re not getting just strength training and you are not getting just flexibility. You are getting a lot of mobility, which is flexibility supported by strength, especially in the joints and spine, which, as we get older, in their 40s and 50s, people are starting to have their low back or hips hurting all the time. It allows you to keep the mobility and strength to go about your life with ease to deter many of the aches and pains that come with aging.”

Inala Movement Studio owner/instructor Leslie Whitesell, left, works with Deborah Barlow. (Photo by Adam Seif)

Whitesell said the method helps improve posture.

When she teaches private lessons. Weights and tension resistance are involved.

“You are working with weight-bearing exercise as well, which is good as you age for your bones,” Whitesell said. “All of that is combined with work with breathing, which is important for the nervous system and your sense of well-being.”

Whitesell said some people don’t know how to breathe properly. She said improper breathing contributes to not feeling good.

“The equipment is unique to this work,” she said. “You want to be able to work in the full range of motion in the joints.”

Whitesell said group classes are conducted on a stool.

“It’s seated and standing work and sometimes on the floor, but there is no special equipment,” she said. “It’s sort of like a yoga class, but it’s not yoga.”

Whitesell works with a range of clients, including professional dancers in their 20s.

“I have people all the way up to their 70s,” she said. “They choose what they are most comfortable with.”

She has been teaching the method for more than 10 years.

Whitesell, 47, previously was a competitive ballroom dancer. 

“When I moved to Indianapolis, I was still competing and dancing and working at a ballroom studio and teaching GYROTONICS on the side,” she said. “In 2020, I decided I was done competing. I wanted to have my own studio where I can teach GYROTONICS and ballroom dancing.”

Indianapolis resident James Brown is a firm believer in the method.

Brown’s former job was golf course maintenance.

“I’ve done yoga five times a week for 24 years because my job was so physically demanding,” Brown said. “I did yoga to alleviate back pain. I did it as a maintenance to keep from being injured. I didn’t want to take muscle relaxers. Yoga worked great but I started doing this and it’s like yoga on steroids. I’m as strong as a cat. I wrestled in high school. I’m strong now at almost 65. It makes you engage all your muscles.”

Brown said there are a lot of wavy movements.

“But once you figure it out, you are standing straight for the first time in your life,” Brown said. “When you are driving a car, you are looking 4 inches above the windshield, so it’s like a weird body reformation.”

Brown said he takes two private lessons and two classes a week at Inala Movement Studio. He also does yoga one day a week and has taught yoga in the past.

“I feel like I’m 45 years old,” he said. “I’ve built six golf courses, so my body is beat up. I feel younger.”

When a session is over, he said he feels a natural high.

Brown learned about it through Miriam Resnick, who owned Mindful Movement Studio before it closed in 2019. She now gives private lessons.

Resnick, 65, said she loves Whitesell’s GRYROKENISIS classes.

“She is an excellent teacher,” the Carmel resident said. “She guides us through all the movements with beautiful imagery and important nuances to help everyone get the best experience. I always leave class a little taller and have a big smile on my face.”