My first two kids are sixteen months apart and, after the birth of the second child, I experienced tremendous pain and dysfunction in the pelvis and the hip. I sought the advice of an orthopedist, luckily found a great one and he sent me to physical therapy which I did regularly for eighteen months.
PT helped but I still had pain, dysfunction and, most importantly, a lot of questions. I had worked hard pre-babies to be “healthy” for childbearing. Why had my body suffered so?
The journey brought me to the work of Katy Bowman, M.S. and the Restorative Exercise™ Institute. After having spent nearly a decade in the fitness industry part-time, finding Katy was like discovering a hidden key that unlocked a door to a magical kingdom. Unlike anything I’d ever encountered in the health and wellness realm, what Katy had to say made complete and total sense.
I dove in deep. I read all her blogs, listened to every podcast and read all the books that she wrote. The next logical step was to become a certified Restorative Exercise Specialist™.
After hours and hours of online coursework, I ended up in Sequim, Washington for my “RES Week” last October. Those of you who follow me on Facebook got a few sneak peeks, but I wanted to share the three biggest takeaways from my week with you here.
Today, I’ll start with the biggie –
I Am Broken – And That’s Okay
After the first day of classes I wrote to my Facebook page that RES™ Week felt a lot like the first year of law school where they tear you down and then build you back up so that you can think like a lawyer. It’s true, they really did that for me at UT. Trouble is, that time you spend broken? Before you’re all shiny and new and thinking differently? It is a profoundly uncomfortable experience.
And so it was with RE. My first one-on-one was with Galina, an instructor from Southern California. I was on a Bosu and had an audience of about eight. (As part of our training we receive personal sessions from instructors and also must observe others’ sessions.)
I kept falling. I was wobbly. My knees wouldn’t stay straight. I was imbalanced. I felt utterly incompetent.
The subsequent trainings didn’t make me feel stronger or more coordinated. In fact, they revealed more of my compensation patterns, my lacking range of motion and just how dysfunctional my movements actually are.
I was plagued with the thought: How am I supposed to teach this stuff if I am so unbelievably broken myself?
My RES™ Week didn’t “fix” me. What it did, though, was help me understand that this work to restore my body to health is an ongoing journey that actually has no destination. I am not going to wake up one day and be “fixed.” Or “healthy.” Or “well.” Instead, I get to make choices every single day that impact how I feel in that moment and in future moments. Life will come at me and to an extent, I get to choose how I will respond. Those choices have physical, biological consequences on my body and mind. I choose to understand those consequences and then make the best choices that I can in the context of my daily and family life.
While at the beginning of the week I was certain that I could never “teach” this work to anyone else, I left with a renewed passion to find willing ears and bring them this message. Fortunately, as part of the certification process, I am completing ten internship hours on current clients and friends.
I would suspect that the people with whom I have worked would tell you that our time together made them feel broken at first. That they saw their body in a new way and much of it disturbed them. They were confronted with profound and uncomfortable truths about how they stand, sit, walk and move.
But then, at the end of each of the sessions, the client saw a change. After just an hour they were able to make different choices about how they moved and actually changed the way their body looked and felt. It’s been all kinds of amazing.
So yeah, I’m totally broken. And that’s okay. But RE helps me be honest about that brokenness, helps me understand how I got there, and helps me make different choices – and therefore, changes – whenever I want.
I have to say, it’s a pretty good way to live.