I love Jesse. I love his philosophy. I love his calm presence. I love how he creates an atmosphere for his clients to be heard, to learn how to move properly, and to heal–both mentally and physically. Until I met Jesse, I’d never connected with a fellow practitioner who approaches injury as an opportunity to rebuild, both mentally and physically. A huge part of injury recovery revolves around establishing a team of practitioners. Meet Jesse, a key player on your recovery team. Jesse, thank you for being you. You’re talented, gifted, and one-of-a-kind. ~Heidi
Tell me a little about yourself and your story? What was your path to becoming a movement specialist?
First, thank you Heidi for offering this space to talk about the work I do. I have a great appreciation for you, your story, your path, and the work you do; and feel you offer an invaluable service to the world. I’m honored to be featured here.
My path to becoming a movement specialist begins with my own personal story of pain and injury. I lived the first third of my life without conscious awareness for how I would feel through the final third. (like most young people) As high school and college athlete, I had the ability to move and perform at a high level despite the physical abuses I put my body through. I was young, stubborn, and reckless, and by the time I was thirty, I had a hefty injury list–including five surgeries on my right knee, concussions, dislocations, sprains, jams, and plenty of scars. (Not to mention a wrecked motorcycle which placed me in the hospital for a week with road rash over a good portion of my body.) Cumulatively, I’ve spent more than six months of my life in a hospital bed. Like you, I know what it’s like to live in pain, to identify myself as “my” pain, to feel hopeless, and to believe that pain is just a fact of life.
While doing therapy to recover from knee surgery, I began working as a personal trainer. I loved working with people, spending time in a gym, and wanted to help others improve their fitness and health. As my career, as well as the chronic pain progressed, I searched for answers to change my relationship with pain and injury. I started to take a hard look at the emotional process that tied into my body, pain, and movement choices. I realized I was not alone. I saw that the vast majority of people were living with, and at times suffering through, chronic pain and it was affecting their quality of life, too. My work slowly shifted from getting people in great shape to being focused on helping each of them feel better in their body. I sought out education which gave me greater tools to help my clients move with less and less pain, and that would fundamentally change their lives. This path lead me to explore restorative movement, massage therapy, and more recently NeuroKinetic Therapy.
What do you do as a movement specialist? Talk to me about how you work with clients.
My primary goal as a movement specialist is to help my clients heal from the emotional and physical burdens of pain and injury. In working with clients, I challenge them to question their old paradigms around fitness and health, and reconnect to the conversation with their body. The ultimate outcome in the work we do together is to restore their lost and forgotten movement potential. This allows each client to experience their own fuller expression of vitality through improved movement quality. My hope is to fundamentally and profoundly change lives.
Who would you recommend see a movement professional? And what can a client expect when working with you?
I recommend that everyone visits a movement professional. No human body is immune to pain, injury, and movement dysfunction. Working with a movement professional is a great opportunity to address movement imbalances, clean up gait patterning, and improve form for squats, lunges, deadlift, pushing and pulling, etc. These are all functional movements. If you don’t perform these functional movements well, it will adversely affect all movements of your life. In order to restore your movement potential, you must explore each of these movements on a regular basis. Practicing these movements will improve movement quality for all other movements of daily living such as lifting your kids off the ground, performing your favorite physical activities, reaching behind your car seat, moving a heavy box, or even just sitting in a chair at work.
Your body is similar to your car. If you get it checked out by a great mechanic on a regular basis, you cut down the pain, burden, and costs on future breakdowns. The worst time to need a mechanic is when you’re broken down by the side of the road.
When working with a new client, I begin with a consultation. This allows us to get acquainted, determine your personal goals, and create an individualized course of action.
We might start with NKT, a Functional Movement Screen, or personal training. Where we start and what path we follow during subsequent sessions is determined by where a client is when they first come to see me. Throughout our time working together, a client can expect to experience healing through a variety of hands on treatments and restorative movement practices. If they are willing, this can lead to not only a physical recovery, but a healing of the emotional body as well.
You’re incredibly insightful and wise. You understand how the body follows the mind. You value balance and moderation. How did you evolve into your practice approach and philosophy?
My professional evolution followed my personal evolution. As I mentioned earlier, in my younger years I lived and experienced life at the extremes, without balance, and I have the scars to show for it. I was in constant physical pain, which reflected in my emotional body. I was full of anger, fear, judgement, and insecurity. I did not feel value or worth in myself and it showed in the physical choices I made. As I evolved professionally, I knew I wanted to help people who shared a similar experience. I realized that the only way I could truly help others was to commit to healing myself. I could not take anyone where I was not willing to go. So I began a process of self discovery. I listened to my body and my heart, became willing to feel it all–the good, bad, and ugly–and to surrender the feelings that did not serve me. I learned that all my life I had unconsciously allowed these feelings to rule my life and influence the choices I made around my body. I realized that if I wanted to feel better in my body as well as in my heart, I needed to change at the deepest levels. Even more importantly, I had to be willing to change.
By focusing on the internal pain, slowly I began to shift. The way I moved changed. Instead of wanting to move and exercise because I was motivated by insecurity, self judgement, not being good enough, anger, or fear–emotional motivations that lead to poor movement choices–I learned to move from a place of loving, honoring, and respecting my body. I explored new paths of movement which were healing and restorative. I felt less physical pain. My body began to feel better. This is a big shift that I am now able to teach my clients.
This shift affected me professionally. I sought out new modalities of assessment and treatment that reinforced healing and restoration. I felt greater empathy for the emotional and physical processes of each of my clients. I have a great capacity to provide a loving, supportive space for them to acknowledge, feel, find gratitude, and begin their healing process. I see great opportunity in front of each of us. I find this process of self discovery, growth, personal evolution, surrender, movement, and healing to be amazing and beautiful even if at times it is incredibly painful. Because I have been there personally, I can help guide clients toward their own emotional and physical transformation. I can help them grow, evolve, and fundamentally change their lives.
The physical and emotional bodies are intimately linked. The pain of the emotional body is often reflected in physical injury and chronic aches and pains. This is where I focus during my sessions, and this is why my clients are able to enjoy such amazing results. Many are in great pain. As opposed to simply coming to me because they want to superficially treat “their” pain; it is through their willingness and strong desire to change the root cause of that pain inside and out, that they are able to heal, recover, and move fully into their potential. The clients I see who achieve the greatest success are those who are willing to truly make a fundamental change, not just in the way they approach life physically, but also the way they approach themselves emotionally.
Heidi, thank you for all the kind words and praise, and the opportunity to share myself and my work.
~Jesse James Retherford is a Movement Specialist and Life Changer based in Austin, Texas. He writes a regular blog focused on healing the emotional and physical body, and restoring your full potential. Visit The Art of Fitness website to contact Jesse, learn more about his services, or sign up for his blog.