Men’s health is a much bigger issue than just physical well-being. This article looks at three men of different ages and from different walks of life. They share with us what being healthy means and the journey they have taken to find whole health for themselves.
Phil is a carpenter and martial artist, Roger works as a surveyor and possesses a passion for surfing, and Julian is a dancer, musician and physical theatre performer who’s travelled the world with his body of work. The one thing they have in common is that each of them was contemplating having to give up doing what they love due to pain from persistent injuries. For each of these men, the desire to continue to engage in their work and enjoy their passions without constant pain led them to meet in an unlikely place. They are all participating in a professional Feldenkrais® practitioner training program. They are discovering that they can not only continue to enjoy what they’re currently doing, but will have a profession through which they can help others get more out of life for many years to come.
“I’d been aware of the Feldenkrais Method for a long time but it’s only recently that I decided to explore it in depth. I had a lot of old injuries as well as the stresses and strains of work, and it was basically pain that made me make a move. I want to be able to keep working.
“It was through the martial arts that I first met a Feldenkrais practitioner. When I attended that first Awareness through Movement® class there were a lot of bells ringing and lights coming on. I wasn’t quite sure why at that time but I stayed with it because something really made sense to me. It’s not until I started the practitioner training program that it’s really brought it home to me – this is my ticket to keeping a healthy body and mind into my old age. It’s really valuable stuff.
“What I’ve sought for a long time is an understanding of myself biomechanically and finding ways to get through each day with as much ease and grace as possible. Feldenkrais has not only led to less pain – which is fantastic, but I have a broader understanding of life in ways that are far more than physical. I feel lighter, more able to deal with situations; I have choices. It really does enter into every realm of life.
“The added bonus for me at 58 years of age is that I now have a new career path open to me. I really want to take this into the world and show other people that they can be responsible for themselves. It’s difficult in the world we live in. We’re often told we’re going to be taken care of but the knowledge that we can do it for ourselves is one of the greatest gifts we’ve got. That’s why it’s something for everyone.”
“I’d had a problem with my shoulder that wasn’t getting any better. Due to the pain and inability to function as I needed to for my work, I was taking anti-inflammatory tablets and using ice packs each day for nearly two years. Worst of all, my surfing sessions were down to half an hour, and some days I could not get out there at all. I’d seen physios on and off, acupuncturists, remedial massage, had cortisone injections, and then a friend recommended I try Feldenkrais. After two months alternating between individual ‘Functional Integration’ sessions and ‘Awareness Through Movement’ group classes I was 98% recovered. I’d been involved in physical work and movement of one sort or another for a long time. I would spend a decade or so in one field then think, ‘That was fun – what’s next?’ Then I’d move onto something new. I guess I was looking for something else when the training opportunity came along. It was a big decision – but it’s the best thing I ever did. I really enjoy learning and this is something I could stick with for a long time.”
Julian’s story is similar:
“I’d had a bit of experience with the Feldenkrais Method before I started dancing, through martial arts and circus work. When I came back to it, I realised it helped me use my whole self rather than being driven by the professional ideas of what I was trying to do. These can really get in the way. Throughout my childhood and growing up through my different trainings I just kept getting more and more injured. This was culminating in the sort of pain that threatened to end my career as a dancer. So the first experience was working out ways I could work in such a way that it was good for me.
“I don’t know if I’ll want to work as a practitioner, but I came to the Feldenkrais practitioner training program because I think you have to really delve into something if you want it to be part of you and not just have a superficial understanding.
“Before I came to the training I could move in some nice ways, and I had some understandings of how to do that, but now I have a much clearer sense of how to build that understanding and how to make it sustainable. I am learning how to be the best I can be without injury or strain.”