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A Look at Some Wonderfully Helpful Mobility Specialists Around the World
Posted by Dr. Ben Kim on Aug 19, 2016
One of the big joys of my life over the past several years has been the gradual but lasting improvement that I have experienced in my overall mobility.
I was quite active athletically throughout my youth, but for most of my 20s and until I hit about 35, grad school, building 3 clinics, and creating our website had me working almost non-stop, leaving very little time to care for my physical health.
When our boys were about 3 and 1, I realized that I had to make more time to care for myself. It's been a long and worthwhile road, and I feel that I am still just beginning - such is the excitement that I have for liberating my body from years of overworking and neglecting parts of my existence.
Two of my biggest deficiencies - stemming from injuries and neglect - were shoulder flexion and back extension, deficiencies that I feel are are quite common in the general population.
In a recent post, I shared 6 mobility exercises that have helped me beyond measure. It is accurate to say that each time I do these exercises, I experience gratitude and joy for the ways that they contribute to my physical freedom.
Please feel free to have a look here:
Some of the feedback that I have received has led me to realize that there are many out there who don't believe that they can experience improvement with chronic issues, be it in their knees, hips, back, shoulders, or elsewhere.
If you feel this way about some part of your health, that the mobility ship of your life has long sailed away, I ask you to please consider if this is hard fact or if it might be a limiting belief? How do you know for sure that you will never be able to exercise on the ground again, or reach your arms up to the top shelf of your pantry?
If you don't feel you can experience improvement on your own because of the severity of your health challenges or your life circumstances, please know that there are mobility specialists all over the world who can help you face to face, beginning with the very basics and helping you experience lasting improvement. I know of several around the world, and have regularly suggested that our readers reach out to the following mobility specialists who have a great deal to offer by way of personalized guidance:
Hollywood & Highland Park
"The work that I do is functional, in that it is sport and movement inspired. I emphasize the cultivation and the practice of grace, and so I encourage my clients to reach outside of their comfort zone. The approach may scare you at times, but the environment is safe, and the results are undeniable. Gymnastics and Modern Dance, Kettlebells and Animal flow, Olympic lifts and Yoga. I pull from my 10 years experience in the fitness industry as well as my extensive background in postmodern movement in theatre, to create a multi-modal curriculum that leaves no stone unturned. I encourage the importance of creativity and discovery in developing a program that is adaptable, sustainable, and above all, Fun. This is where we begin to cultivate the essence and the practice of grace."
I have long followed and admired Nick's work online and have immense respect for his abilities and insight. I deeply appreciate his loving and humble approach to leading himself and his students to new heights of mindful movement.
Hunter has been personal training for the last 8 years, and has also worked as a physical therapy aide for 6 years in both New York and California. Hunter is well qualified as a fitness professional to work with any demographic of clientele, however, excels in nutritional guidance, mobility and flexibility, and post-rehabilitation clients due to his background working in physical therapy offices. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology with the option in Exercise Science from California State University, Long Beach. Hunter’s certifications include the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA), and FRCms - Functional Range Conditioning mobility specialist.
Many in the movement and fitness industry know Hunter for his incredible mobility and flexibility. In following his work online for about a year now, I am continuously inspired by his unique movement patterns and unassuming manner, and given his background in kinesiology and physical therapy, I feel he is an incredibly valuable resource for those who have moderate to severe chronic limitations in mobility.
"Our clients are from all demographics and all walks of life. We enjoy helping people tackle physical challenges ranging from post stroke range of motion issues to achieving the needed edge in a no-holds barred professional cage fight. Our trainer's first focus is to always avoid hurting the athlete. Rather, we guide them through programs that have been designed and tailored to help them reach their goals in a manner than won't undermine their body."
"Awaken isn't only a gym, it's a lifestyle. We bring our local and worldwide community together by encouraging fun with exercise! We take the time to properly treat injuries, develop physical honesty with our bodies and provide intelligent programming to our students. We offer the world's first, adult gymnastics training facility located in Denver's arts district on Santa Fe. We are proud to be the only master affiliate of GymnasticBodies. Our instructor development is provided by US Junior national Olympic gymnastics coach, Christopher Sommer. Classes are both for the beginner and advanced student and are based on progressive bodyweight exercises to create long, lean, strong muscles.We focus on stretching, mobility, joint pre-habilitation, and a full-body core workout that guarantees to challenge the strongest athlete."
I have learned so much about basic mobility and functional strength progressions through Orench's and Crystal's online work. You can find a wonderful collection of videos here: Foundations at Awaken Gymnastics, and for regular inspiration, you can follow them at Instagram here: Awaken Gymnastics @ Instagram
"I've been interested in how the body moves for a long time. I started Jiu-Jitsu near the end of high school (I graduated in 2003) and took off running with it around 2010, managing several academies, competing internationally, and winning many medals along the way. I earned my black belt in 2015 shortly after winning the Pan American Championships at brown belt.
"The use of leverage and sensitivity to others I gained from martial arts led me to and translated directly into Thai bodywork therapy. After experiencing how Thai techniques helped me feel completely renewed, I knew I had to learn to do it myself. I started practicing in 2013. I love figuring out exactly how to make each individual relax.
"I next decided I wanted to help people get better active control of their bodies to improve their everyday quality of life and reduce the widespread idea that declining bodily functions need to be accepted as we get older. I found the Functional Range Conditioning system (FRC) and learned how to help people monitor their bodies, maintain them, improve them, and know when to seek help."
In following Samantha's work online, I am deeply appreciative of her selfless approach to teaching people how to move better. Some people have near unlimited capacity to give - my strong sense is that Samantha is one of these people.
Dr. Spina holds a Bachelor of Kinesiology degree from McMaster University. He later graduated with summa cum laude and clinic honors from the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College as a Doctor of Chiropractic. He then completed a two-year post-graduate fellowship in Sports Sciences. He is the creator of the Functional Range Release (FR)® soft tissue management system, the Functional Range Conditioning (FRC)® mobility development system, and the Kinstretch™ method of movement stretching that are currently used by practitioners world wide as well as a number of professional sports organizations, athletes, and performers. He is a published author, and international speaker on the topics of joint health, movement and mobility development, sports performance, and injury management.
Tireless in his efforts to help practitioners all over the world learn and teach a systematic way of improving mobility and tissue health, Dr. Spina is undoubtedly one of the most prominent leaders of the Functional Movement field. If you enjoy learning about functional anatomy and how the body works from histological to macroscopic levels, I encourage you to visit his YouTube channel here:
Darren and Emily are exceptional athletes who teach a systematic and progressive system of improving mobility. In Jannuary of 2016, Darren contacted me, offering the opportunity to try his online program - I found great value in Darren's guidance and signed up for an additional 3 sessions. Here is a review that I wrote for Darren's program:
I have found Darren's program to be immensely helpful in progressively improving my mobility and agility. I appreciate how thoughtful Darren is in building functional strength and mobility, taking into account individual circumstances and goals.
As a chiropractor whose primary interest is to find and share self-care tools that empower people to experience their best health, I believe Darren's program offers tremendous value. While I have respect for all forms of health care, in my experience, few approaches produce better long term results than those that involve our own moment-to-moment choices, and this is precisely what Darren's program is about - taking responsibility for the way we think, feel, and use our bodies, and reaping the lasting rewards of making sensible choices.
If you're looking for a progressive and systematic approach to accessing the most of your potential to move freely and without pain and stiffness, I highly recommend giving Darren's program a try. I am confident that you will find it to be one of the best investments you have ever made in your health.
In learning from Darren's and Emily's work, one can see a strong background in dance - they move so gracefully and with seemingly effortless power. Darren played university level basketball, which also accounts for his impressive agility. Darren and Emily have an abundance of knowledge on optimally nourishing the body with nutrient-dense foods. You can learn more about Darren and Emily at SkillzMovement.com.
Dana is a world-class athlete with a strong background in multiple disciplines - Katsudo te Jitsu, NCAA Division I Soccer at Marshall University, professional soccer in Belgium, and certification from the Yandara-Yoga Institute in Mexico.
Over the years, Dana has completed certifications as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), a Functional Range Conditioning Mobility Specialist (FRCms), and multiple Weight Lifting and Sport Performance certifications.
Dana is a Functional Range Conditioning Instructor and travels around the world with Dr. Andreo Spina and a small team to teach certification courses.
Dana works as a Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Niagara Ice Dogs (OHL). He has guided professional (AHL, NHL and MLS), collegiate and amateur athletes through designed movement sessions and periodized programs. Dana also currently works as Head Coordinator of Athletic Development for No Limit Performance Basketball, alongside Skills Coach, Mihai Raducanu.
I have long followed Dana's work and have learned a great deal about developing functional strength and mobility via his posts. He is an incredible athlete and the kind of fellow who, if you hear someone speaking ill of, you know that the person speaking is probably the one with the problem - such is Dana's kindness and humility. A friend through the junior tennis world has her sons training with Dana - one is a national level basketball player and the other is one of Canada's top junior tennis players - and she cannot praise Dana enough for how much he cares for his clients and how gifted he is in helping people improve their mobility and functional strength.
Dana was incredibly gracious and generous in guiding me through the selection of Gymnastics Stall Bars. I am grateful for his presence in this world and would trust him with the care of any of my family members.
You can contact Dana through his Instagram account here:
Passionate about fitness, movement, and health, Wesley spent two years learning directly from Christopher Sommer (founder of Gymnastic Bodies), attending numerous seminars in the UK, Singapore and the United States, as well as numerous Gymnastic Bodies Masterclass events working alongside some of Gymnastic Bodies’ most advanced athletes.
Also a practising Osteopath for 8 years since graduating from the British School of Osteopathy in London, Wesley brings a wealth of experience to his classes. His medical training and clinical experience helping hundreds of clients have given him brilliant insight into human movement patterns, imbalances and how Gymnastic Strength Training can be used to rebalance, strengthen and fortify an individuals physical health and appearance.
Wesley is an accomplished martial artist, holding a 1st degree black sash in Nan Shaolin Wu Zu Quan. He is also a Level 1 Certified Gymnastics Coach with British Gymnastics.
I have immense appreciation for Wesley's ability to explain the functional anatomy and biomechanics that are involved with mobility exercises. Beyond the sheer wealth of clinical knowledge that he shares, Wesley displays awe-inspiring levels of mobility and functional strength. You can see him in action from time to time at Forma GST's Instagram account here:
Daniel and his fellow coaches at BodyTree Gymnastics provide a comprehensive program of improving mobility and functional strength. I find the library of exercises that they post to their YouTube and Instagram accounts to be thoughtfully presented and wonderfully helpful for multiple levels of health and mobility.
Tom is a New Zealand born anthropologist, movement researcher, teacher and athlete with 20 years experience in health and athletic performance education. Continually looking to challenge modern lifestyle pressures, habits and perceptions, Tom offers a unique movement-focused holistic approach to health and longevity.
Tom offers a continuous stream of inspiration and insight on developing a movement practice that is needed by the individual in the moment. I deeply appreciate his spiritually-uplifting thoughts. If you are on Instagram, I hope that you consider following him:
These are four well known sources of online mobility coaching. All of them are excellent and comprehensive in providing a systematic and progressive way of restoring mobility and improving functional strength.
As you might imagine, there are a lot of similarities and substantial overlap in course content among these and other sources of online coaching, which is simply reflective of the reality that there is a finite number of efficient ways to care for our joints and soft tissues. For example, every program that I have looked at uses the same basic progression of foundational exercises to train ankle, knee, hip, spinal, shoulder, elbow, and wrist mobility.
I think it's safe to say that every mobility specialist and program adds some unique flavors and tones to their programs, as they naturally draw upon their unique backgrounds and interests. So if you are looking for personalized help from one specialist or program, I would suggest that you look into several, consider what they are sharing with the world, and allow your intuition to guide you in choosing one you are likely to make a meaningful connection with.
I am grateful for every person and program listed in this post, as I have learned from all of them, and continue to learn, just as I'm sure all of them are also continuing to learn and evolve. If you follow these mobility specialists on social media, you'll find that there is quite a bit of interaction between some of them with expressions of praise, encouragement, and appreciation - this is always a beautiful thing, to see people thinking and living with a spirit of abundance and wanting to lift others up. Whenever I see this, I know that I have found someone I will enjoy learning from.
Some among our readership have mentioned that they are on a fixed income in their retirement years and cannot afford to pay for personalized help. Please don't let this be the deterrent that prevents you from seeking support to improve the quality of your life. I promise you there are people out there who are not solely about profit and who want to be of service.
Hope, belief that improvement is possible, and a dedication to doing the work needed to experience lasting improvement are the essential ingredients needed. If you are strong in all three and ask for help, I am confident that you have a lot of good to look forward to.
Sending love to all,
P.S. If you appreciate the work of a mobility specialist who has not been mentioned in this post, would you please share with me at email@example.com? I can never have too many teachers in my life.
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