Client Case Study – 5 Things I learnt With a Year of Coaching


5 Things I learnt With a Year of Coaching

Anniversaries give us a chance to reflect on the past year and to set further goals. This week I’ve been reflecting on my year with a personal trainer/movement coach. Particularly as I’d had a session where I felt I hadn’t made any progress! So I started thinking about what had changed and what I have learnt. Mostly it seems I’ve learnt more about me… my mind, my body and the way I move in the world…. physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally.

Unbelievably, it’s almost a year since I first made the call to Mitch Barrow from Surf Better Longer to see if he could help me sort out ongoing issues with my posture and lower back. He’d been recommended by local Naturopath, Tim Altman.

When I looked at Mitch’s website it seemed like he only trained young, fit surfers. I struggled with the idea that he’d turn away an unfit, chubby 45 year old land lubber. But I had a hunch that Mitch could help so I ignored the fear and made the call. Turns out, the intuition was right.

I had the intention of doing one or two sessions, but I kept coming back because I could feel so much changing for me. I have grown and learnt a lot through this work and through the challenges. Here is some of what I’ve learnt.

1. Exercise and movement aren’t equal.

It became apparent early on that there is a whole new way of working with fitness that isn’t about ‘exercising’. It’s not about hammering away in the gym lifting weights. It’s about being outdoors, challenging the body and the mind. It’s about using the natural environment and natural movements.

This questioned my whole belief system around exercising… Where does training isolated muscles get me in the real world, does it mean that I can hold my own body weight if I had to as a matter of survival? Does exercising make me move better? Is it restorative or degenerative? Why spend one hour 3 times a week working out, when I can ‘move’ any time?

As well as dedicated movement sessions, I now see movement opportunities throughout my day, everyday. For example I now go into a deep squat when I’m hanging out the washing or picking up something from the floor. I mix up the way I move, the way I sit (I can now squat!). I now work at a standing desk which makes me move more.

The best thing is that this stuff is contagious, I’ve now got the whole family into hanging off things, jumping over things and balancing on things.

2. Feeling Strong Beats a Bikini Bod

As I continued to work with Mitch my body started to feel stronger. I realised too that I was hugely energised from my Chi Kung practice and not doing anything with all that energy was getting uncomfortable, I felt like I could no longer sit still. Moving became essential.

One day I was out walking on the beach and I was compelled to start running. I hadn’t run for a while because of back and knee pain. With a few tweaks and tips from the coach I now run regularly and can’t get through the week without a run. I’ve just smashed my personal best on my favourite run and I’m pumped to do better.

I’ve still got lots of wobbly bits and I sag and bag from where this body grew two magnificent babies and then carried an extra 15kg. But I don’t care anymore. I look in the mirror and I’m fascinated by the little bit muscle definition that I have and by the way my skin glows. I feel strong and more comfortable in my body.

3. Spiritual Lessons Aren’t Just Found On the Meditation Cushion

I’ve done rock running, run up enormous flights of stairs, leapt over fences, all sorts of balancing and jumping. Things I never thought I could do. One particular challenge had me standing on top of a handrail at the top of a steep flight of stairs. The idea was to walk down the hand rail, balance and not fall off and die. Fear had me paralysed, I couldn’t move.

I kept watching the fear, feeling it. As I moved forward and down the handrail, I became more separate from the fear and I saw it for what it was. It wasn’t me and I could choose to listen to it or not. I moved into a mental stillness, totally present in a mediative state. Then the fear morphed into excitement and joy.

I knew in that moment that I’d witnessed a turning point in my self-awareness.

4. I’m Part of Your Journey, as You Are Part of Mine

I have a gift for teaching Chi Kung and treating with Craniosacral Therapy. Both of these practices have transformed deeply over the last year through input of different teachers , therapists and mentors. All of these people that have helped me in my journey have been passionate about their own purpose and using their own gifts to help others. I needed their gifts.

I’ve learnt that there’s a powerful force that engages when I connect with others that are pursuing their purpose. When I engage their services my propulsion is magnified and in return I support them to keep on doing what they do.

To get where I’m going I need their help, and I have to pay for it. It’s not always easy to part with the cash, but looking back I can see nothing but positive growth from doing so and I know I’d rather have that than another lovely handbag.

5. What Happens When I Feel Compelled

So as the year has continued and I’ve gone from strength to strength, I’ve noticed a growing compulsion. I want to be stronger, fitter and capable of more complex movement. I want to learn more and maybe help others discover more functional movement. I think about it a lot. I want more! It’s not enough to train with Mitch once every fortnight.

Every bit of my sensible self is questioning this compulsion. It’s telling me I can’t afford more. Why do I want to really? Am I not a bit old for all of this?

Well I’m not listening to my sensible self. I’m going to go for it… I’m interested in following the compulsion and I’m seeing it as an experiment. Is it real? Where is it coming from? Where will it take me?

Funny how things open up when I follow these drives. More clients book in, the money appears and everything just falls in to place. Life becomes even more exciting as I step (or run!) more deeply into the flow fuelled by the compulsion. I can’t wait to see where it takes me to next…

(Thanks to the following teachers, mentors and therapists that have fuelled my propulsion over the last year. Ged Sumner, Steve Haines, Kath Essing, Mitch Barrow, John Waters, Genevieve Claringbold, and Stuart Gadenne. My bank balance is lighter, but I’m so rich!)

(Check out,, for inspiration on moving and functional fitness).

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