How do we end up where we are? What happens in life that, suddenly, we realize that things need to change?

It happened to me one day, years ago, when I looked at myself and realized I couldn’t go on the way I was, that something had to change, and that it was me.

Gwen’s Story

I heaved myself out of my chair and walked into the living room where my husband sat , watching TV. He looked at me, surprised, because I was wearing only black cotton underpants and a black bra. They were the closest things I had to a bathing suit at the time. I handed the camera to him and said, “I need you to take some pictures of me.” He did as I asked. In the midst of my despair, self-disgust and loathing, I turned front, back, and side as he took photos documenting how far I had let myself go. I was 225 pounds, out of shape and demoralized, and yet something inside was nudging me to turn things around. Something inside me was determined to find a better way of living.

I joined a gym and a weight loss program. Over the next year-and-a-half I exercised nearly every day, kept a food log, and checked in weekly at the weight loss meeting. It was tough at times, but I believed that I could do it, and knew that I had to do it.

Eighteen months later, I had lost 80 pounds and committed to exercise as a lifestyle. My chronic back pain and sciatica had resolved, and my heart was light with joy inside my healthy body.

A big part of my success on this journey came from the learning and support I received from my personal trainer, and an idea began to form in my mind. I had turned my life around, and it felt good. Maybe I could help others do the same! Maybe I could lead by my example and with my expertise to help others learn to take control of their health and their lives. That was when I decided to earn the first of many health and fitness certifications, and I became a certified personal trainer.

Not too long after that I discovered I had “degenerative disc disease” and “degenerative joint disease.” I was only forty! Unfortunately, due to my prior obesity and poor posture, the discs between my spinal vertebrae had become compressed and worn thin, and this caused excessive wear-and-tear of my spinal vertebrae. It was shocking news. I would have to change everything I was doing or my discs and spine would continue to degenerate and I would be physically old before my time.

That was when I discovered Pilates. At first, it was just another certification to add to my ever-growing list of qualifications. I soon found that it was a system of exercise that I could do even with my degenerated spine. I fell in love. So much so that twenty years later I am a Master Instructor for Balanced Body Pilates, an international Pilates education company.

I was developing a reputation as a teacher who helped people, working with those who had spinal pathologies and other joint issues, or were healing from injuries or surgeries. Working with these clients, I began to see a need for a more hands-on approach for some of them. At the suggestion of a colleague, I began to explore manual therapy.

I looked at various manual therapy training options, and the one that resonated was Hendrickson Method® Orthopedic Manual Therapy. When I compared the methodology to other leading, cutting-edge manual therapy techniques, I noticed that Dr. Hendrickson had combined three distinct yet complementary methods into one approach. One of the sayings I live by is “if you only have a hammer every problem looks like a nail.” I’ve always liked having a well-stocked toolbox, and Hendrickson Method® was a toolbox of orthopedic manual therapy skills. One of the great things about learning new therapies is that the students practice on each other, and get to experience the therapy they are studying. By the end of my first Hendrickson Method® module, I had gained relief from pain through the treatments I received during the practice sessions. I thought it was a miracle! I had suffered for so long with debilitating pain, and to experience such profound relief after just a few treatments was extraordinary. I knew I was, again, on to something special.

The most recent step on my path as a therapist was to organize two decades of teaching and practice and submit my certification application to the International Association of Yoga Therapists. I was honored with certification as a C-IAYT Yoga Therapist based on the decades of work I had documented with people of all shapes and sizes, with all kinds of spinal and joint issues.

I am happy that I have been able to find a path to help people, through many years of experience and a lot of hard work. I feel lucky that I get to do what I love, helping people and making a difference in their lives. Every day is a gift, and a new opportunity to be good, do good, and serve.

If I can gain control of my physical well-being, you can too! I’m here to help you understand your body, reclaim your health and vitality, learn to live a full, pain-free life, and do it safely and effectively.