Feldenkrais – A Personal Trainer’s Story

Here Julia Sutton is interviewing Ali who is a personal trainer.  She discusses how she came to experience the Feldenkrais approach and what she has learnt from it.

Julia: Ali, I understand you work as a personal trainer. How did you find Sarah and Feldenkrais?

Ali: I found Sarah through one of my clients. She was getting better with her own rehab and just finding the way for her body to function better. I could see the benefits and I thought if it’s helping her, I might as well give it a shot. I wanted to see if it could possibly help me with my physical issues.

Julia: So what sorts of issues did you want to tackle?

Ali: As a trainer I’m at the gym a lot. There’s always a little niggle somewhere. My knees get sore sometimes. At some point my neck was really sore and it was keeping me awake. It just happened over night, and so I thought I’d call. I did some damage training or something like that. I didn’t really think it was chronic, if you like, or it could possibly be caused by the way I moved over the time. Anyway, I went to see Sarah.

Julia: How do you think Feldenkrais is different from other modalities that you’ve had?

Ali: I think Sarah shows you how to get better. She doesn’t do it for you. The responsibility for getting better remains with you. Feldenkrais really promotes the idea that everyone has different perceptions and feelings. What I perceive as right or what I perceive as feeling good, is not what someone else does. So Feldenkrais is really for everyone as it helps them to work out what is the best for them.

Julia: Can you describe the sorts of things that you noticed, the sort of changes that it made in you?

Ali: First of all, I realized what I was doing. I don’t pay attention to the connections in my body from head to toe. I learnt about how I moved and how much effort I was putting into doing the simplest things. I learnt to pay attention to my breathing. By just paying attention to my body I gained so much more understanding. I started to listen to my emotions and feelings. These can actually affect the way I move and run around. It’s makes everything so much easier. Feldenkrais helped me find a way to move with ease. Whatever is the best for me.

Julia: That’s an interesting thing, because personal training is often linked to excessive effort and you’re saying that it’s about the finding a sense of ease.

Ali: Yeah.

Julia: It’s actually not about effort.

Ali: Yeah, absolutely. Even if there is a little bit of effort, it’s only for a shorter period of time. I think there needs to be a balance. It’s not that I think that personal training should be effortless. You need to use some effort. It’s healthy for you to put a little bit of effort into exercise. However, if you don’t move with ease, you’ll end up needing to put a lot of effort into it. So if you learn how to move properly, and how to listen to your body, exercise is less effort. You will still put some effort into it, but you’ll use less energy.

Julia: Can you describe what it’s like to work with Sarah?

Ali: It’s amazing. It’s really good. She makes you work. I really like her personality, she’s very straight and to the point. I like that because different people need different therapies. I guess some people do prefer that their professional helper will actually do the work for them, like masseurs and so on. But some people can actually work from the next level where they can use the tools they are given so they are the ones who are helping themselves.

Pretty much from the day one, Sarah lets you know that it’s in your hands to help yourself and she’ll just show you how to. What I’ve found over time, that the more work you put into your rehab, and you follow what she says, the more long lasting it is. If you do it yourself, if you find the way, it’s actually going to last. If you rely on someone else, you will just have to rely on that person again and again.

Julia: How’s has Feldenkrais changed other aspects of your life? Have you felt it’s influence in outside exercise and bodywork, has it changed your thinking?

Ali: Absolutely, because you won’t move with ease if you are stressed and if you don’t know how to relax. As soon as you are more relaxed and less stressed every body system works better. I could really see how much stress was in my body, in my life, in my work, and I’m studying full time at Uni as well. As I was getting better and as I was seeing Sarah more, I was able to relax more and I could see the physical changes in my body, to the way that I was moving, the way I was breathing, the way I was thinking. When you hear people say “the connection between body and mind”, well that’s definitely Feldenkrais.

Julia: Is there anything else that you’d like to add in helping people understand what Sarah is all about?

Ali: I think if I could and I always try to, I would just get everyone and anyone to go and see her. I think it’s just amazing. Obviously I understand that it’s not for everyone. I think it’s just so good for anyone with chronic pain or anyone who hasn’t got pain yet but they already see signs and symptoms.

I think it’s amazing, and it’s for people who have got tough jobs, for people who want to get better in their hobby or it’s just for people who just want to live better and easier.

I think Sarah works particularly well for people with chronic issues. They’ve got chronic pain and often you feel like you just don’t want that area to be touched and to be worked on. But the reason why there is imbalance in that area is because there is something else in your body that isn’t happening. That’s how it usually happens. Sarah doesn’t actually go there, where it’s sore, she will actually go elsewhere to the other part of your body that might not be engaged . That’s going to make you better. So over time, she really builds the trust and not just your trust in her, but you trusting your own body to begin movement and allowing that treatment to work on the issues. So that’s what’s really good about it.

Julia: So you’d like to see everybody go to Sarah?

Ali: Oh my God. Sarah is the best, yeah.

Julia: Okay, thank you so much, Ali.