Updated: Jan 5, 2020
Well.....firstly let me introduce myself.
My name is Gemma, born and bred in Norfolk, studied in Sheffield, a keen traveller of the world, now settled in London, based in the Deptford (SE) area of the big smoke, with a passion to help others.
With a background in Health and Wellbeing, a Degree and Masters in Exercise Science (Physical Activity for Health), 'majoring' in Health Behaviour Change, my passion to the core is the wellbeing of others. I trained as a Personal Trainer, which gave me instant access to people who were interested in improving their health and wellbeing through exercise. But it was so so much more than that! I had A LOT to learn which I quickly realised when I start working with REAL people.
There is a lot to consider with each individual human being. Their history, any trauma, injury, mood, mindset, the empathy needed to create a level of trust and rapport, stressors, individual's very different responses to the many stresses of life, nutrition and eating behaviours, basically the big WHY's!
Why does someone want to go to the gym?
Why do they want to change/improve themselves?
Why do they want a Personal Trainer?
These reasons can be so different for each individual.
Now with what I do, it has transpired to the same level of interest and query over why a person is injured; why are they in pain? Why are they 'holding' themselves in that way; what daily behaviours are causing them be so mis-aligned? How much rest do people take from training and what is their quality of recovery? etc.
This requires a level of deep, but also broad understanding for a trainer and any therapist to be deemed 'good'. It is so much more than how many sets and reps someone can lift or how fast they can run 5km, or a quick stretch and 'release' and all will be well.
Truth be known, I wasn't all that interested in being their 'Personal Trainer' in regards to the exercise prescription itself. I wasn't committed to a certain way of training or a sport. I am ALL about health, BALANCE and quality of movement.
I loved working with people, I wanted to better understand them, each and every individual one and all their differences and was really intrigued by their needs and ways of thinking and how this impacted their health.
As a part of these relationships, I was there to help them achieve their goals, relieve their stress, helping them focus on the positives, raising their awareness to their body, their posture and how they were holding themselves. Relieving the strain placed on them, often being desk-bound all day, minimising injuries by getting stronger and improving their ranges of movement.
More and more I could see and FEEL their pain, their stresses, seeing them peak in stress (mostly psychological, emotional and physical, from over-training, too many hours at work, long commute times, young children, lack of sleep, too much alcohol/drugs, too little rest, too much/too little food/good quality nutrients, for example) and, become ill and injured. Generally, it was because they were punishing themselves as a means of a distraction of their unhappiness or just trying to juggle too many balls of life. All of course dealing with these issues in slightly different ways.
This FASCINATED me!
I realised quickly I needed to learn more, understand better the anatomy and physiology of the human body and how stress from all sources impacted health. The relationship was so clear!
What do people do when they are stressed, to help relieve all their muscular tensions and strains?
Get a MASSAGE!!
Now I had also spent time (alongside Personal Training) in Exercise Physiology, enhancing my knowledge and practice in measuring health markers such as Blood pressure, Cholesterol, Glucose, lung function, ECG - heart health, V02 max fitness testing etc etc etc. From this having a face-to-face discussion on behaviour change to improve their health markers.
During this role, once again, stress was the biggest factor in negatively impacting these people's health and all my advice revolved around managing this. But I was extremely restricted in what I could say and who I could refer them to.
I soon broke free! I wanted to combine all my skills in behaviour change, monitoring health and wellbeing, exercise and reduce stress and injury through HANDS ON therapy! So the self-employed life was the only way I could see to dictate who I worked with, how, where and when.
So I trained in Whole Body Massage (ITEC level 3) and it was then I had that cliche LIGHTBULB moment!
As soon as I placed my hands on to do my first ever Effleurage!!! BAM! I grinned like a Cheshire Cat! THIS is what I meant to do! Feeling the tension, learning the skills to ease and release them! It's MAGIC! A real skill that I literally feel so blessed to have.
Now it started an obsession, it was like opening Pandora's box. Within a year I had taken so many courses, I realised there was SO MUCH TO LEARN about the body I had NO IDEA about! So many patterns of movement, so many methods of feeling, releasing, mobilising, tools to use. So many inspiring people to talk to and learn from.
I am in my 3rd year of working as a Soft Tissue Therapist and having this year completed my ITEC Level 5 in Soft Tissue Therapy (this was a huge goal for me in my career) as I wanted to be top of my game in the knowledge and skill set that I have. Yet still, the doors open, my eyes are attracted to yet more skills and knowledge that's out there! The industry is growing massively and rapidly as more and more people realise the importance of exercise, their body and living a healthy lifestyle. With that comes the awareness that rest and recovery is also super important!
Now I personally feel that many people feel that booking themselves in for any body work treatment is deemed 'Self-Indulgent' and many will wait until they are totally broken (injured) before they "treat themselves"! Pain is the main trigger for someone coming to see me!
But the human body is EXTREMELY resilient and adaptable, so in actual fact, pain will often be the last signal that something is wrong. Pain will force people to rest and this will give the body time to heal. My job is to speed up this process and get people back to doing what they want to, need to and love as quickly as possible.
Now my dream is that people would treat their body's (muscles and the mind especially) with the same respect they would to their cars, bikes or even their nails and hair!!!!! Many would not question spending huge amounts of money on a monthly hair trim or getting their eyelashes or nails done.... but a massage?! Hell no!?! WHY? interesting.....the classic 'if it's not broken, don't fix it' springs to mind. HOWEVER, with a lack of body awareness, people do not realise they are on a fast track to being injured and seeing a therapist regularly would prevent a break from ever happening.
So yes, I LOVE helping people!! 'Fixing people' is what others think I do, but actually the body fixes itself, I am just a guide, an aid and an accelerator! But what I am so dedicated to doing is EDUCATING! Helping people to become aware of where their tensions are, their mis-alignments and helping people realise that more often than not, "where the pain is, the issue is not"!! (My Favourite Saying)! Once people have this awareness, they have ownership over their state, they can now look out for and register their behaviour patterns, then leading to what is often the causes of their pain.
THIS is what I love! I don't just treat for 60-90 minutes, take the money and see you later! I care! I want to help you in your journey of health and awareness, so you can improve yourself with confidence and assurance. I become a coach of sorts, ensuring my clients know they can message/call and check in with me at any time to ask questions.
So what is the difference between a massage and soft tissue therapy?
A Massage is 'passive', you lay there and the massage is done on you. It feels great! You can totally relax and will almost always walk out feeling better.
Soft Tissue Therapy is inter-active! I want you to be involved in your movements, in healing, in understanding what I am doing and why! I am empowering you and educating you!
I yes use massage techniques, I have a 'toolbox' of massage skills from Sports Massage, Deep Tissue work, Myofascial Release, Soft Tissue Release, Muscle Energy Techniques, Dry Needling/Acupuncture and so many more.
So this is where we are at! I work with a huge range of people, from the inactive, to the elite athletes, to those with physical disabilities. I love what I do and am always wanting to work with more people who will challenge me and to help me grow as a passionate practitioner.
Please feel free to contact me for treatments or mentoring as a Soft Tissue Therapist, I would love to hear from you regarding your experiences as a therapist or needs as a potential client. :)