About Monika

Hey, I’m Monika. This is my website!

I am forever a student of movement. I seek to understand the body in motion as it makes its journey from one foot to the other.

You may remember me from other pieces of the internet, such as: www.danceproject.ca, www.dancestronger.com, and www.capemovement.com.

Why would I create another website if I already have three? Doesn’t that seem excessive?? READ THIS.

I am using this website to share my observations on a few of my favourite things: Human motion, breathing, strength training, being a human, and a devoted Anatomy in Motion learner.

My understanding is that the more comfortably and effortlessly we inhabit our bodies, at rest and in motion, the kinder we are to ourselves and each other. We make better decisions. We have more peace. We’re a little bit happier, more fulfilled, and we feel younger. This understanding is my drive to keep learning and discovering the truth behind how our bodies are designed to move.

I estimate that roughly 1% of the Earth’s populous will find reading my work as riveting as it was for me to write it. That’s a conservative estimation…

For the other 99% of you… Well, at the very least, you can be amused that in the front page image, my left nostril is smaller than my right. I didn’t know that until I took that photo. How is this influencing my airway, movement patterns, and autonomic nervous system? You will just have to read on to find out…

Here’s a little more about ME (boring bio):

My first passion was dance. Growing up in small-town Brandon, Manitoba, I had dreams of becoming a professional ballet dancer. However, after being rejected from major professional ballet schools for being “too old”, and “not having the body”, I settled on pursuing a career in contemporary dance, and, at age 19 went off to earn a BFA in dance performance from Ryerson Univeristy in Toronto.

The summer between 3rd and 4th year, I performed in my first professional gig (a remount of a piece by David Earle). This was also the last time I performed professionally, as, in 4th year, my previous 8 years of neglect for my mental and physical health caught up to me, and I sustained a string of injuries that forced me to step back from dancing. I sat the rest of the year on the sidelines. They still let me graduate.

This is where my passion for “restoration” came from. Having made shitty life choices and shitty choices in rehabilitation professionals, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I also came to see how under-served the world of dance was in terms of strength and conditioning- something that could help dancers perform better with fewer injuries. I dived down the rabbit hole of strength and conditioning, human motion, and Thai massage, and haven’t looked back. In 2012 I created The Dance Training Project as a summer strength training program for dancers.

Currently, I work primarily with individuals post-rehab, or are looking to enhance their physical performance and physical well-being (aka, work on their fitness), prioritizing quality of movement, not necessarily getting jacked. There is a special place in my heart for working with dancers, as they continue to be a population of athletes that do not receive the information on strength training and self-care they need to perform their best.

My creds, if you care about that stuff:

  • Certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS) through the NSCA
  • Anatomy in Motion trained practitioner (223 hours and counting…)
  • Thai massage holistic practitioner
  • NeuroKinetic Therapy level 2 practitioner
  • Postural Restoration Institute: Myokinematic Restoration
  • Postural Restoration Institute: Pelvis Restoration
  • FMS level 1 certified

My work philosophy:

My area of interest is in foundational, natural human movement, and how maintaining a healthy balanced movement practice can help people to enhance their quality of life and physical performance. 

In particular, I am fascinated by the unique variance between individuals: No two people move and hold themselves in the same way, and finding the activities, movements, and exercises that are right for each person at that particular moment in time.

Unfortunately, the fitness industry and, to a certain degree, the rehabilitation industry, leans towards a standardized approach in which the individual is treated as just another person with weak glutes, tight hip flexors, and forward head “syndrome” needing the typical glute strengthening, hip stretching, and chin tucking exercise regimen.

I DON’T HAVE A STANDARDIZED APPROACH

By standardized approach I mean one that is considered to be the most accepted, text-book “solution” for a given circumstance. In allopathic medicine, this is seen in the “diagnose prescribe” approach.

Ex. High blood pressure = a prescription for medication to lower blood pressure- To treat the symptom in a standard way, but without considering the underlying cause of the the high blood pressure in the first place.

Similarly, many of us have been told that we hold a certain posture, that we are “weak” in certain areas, and the solution is to do exercises based on the apparent “symptoms”. At first glance, this seems logical. For example:

  • Limited squat depth = ankle mobility and hamstring flexibility drills 
  • A painful lower back = stretch hip flexors, strengthen glutes and core
  • A cranky shoulder =  stretch upper traps, strengthen the lower traps and rotator cuff
  • Upper crossed syndrome = stretch pecs, strengthen upper back.

These methods may work for some people, but, unfortunately, still address the symptoms level, rather than the causative level, like matching a drug to a symptom. In an individualized approach we want to identify the imbalances that act as the underlying cause of the issue, not slap a standardized exercise prescription on a symptom.

I don’t address the symptom level. In fact, while I may take an extensive injury history to get a feel for where you’re coming from, I’m not especially interested in your symptoms and have no intention of attempting to “diagnose” or “treat” you (which are not in my scope of practice, anyway). Rather, I am interested in helping people to develop an understanding of their bodies. Nurture an inner environment supportive of healthy movement from the ground up, and create a resilient system with an improved tolerance level for the demands placed upon in – Sports, work/life-stress, exercise, and other daily activities.

AN INDIVIDUALIZED, HOLISTIC APPROACH IS MY JAM

The opposite of a standardized approach is an individualized holistic one: An in-depth process that is highly specific to the individual with the goal of restoring movement quality and healthy natural human motion to people with any variety of painful complaints, or performance goals.

A holistic approach to physical well-being and performance addresses the individual’s issues or weaknesses at the point of origin- The imbalances that underlie the cause of the trouble, rather than focus on the symptoms.

A given movement imbalance can manifest in any number of ways, in any variety of injuries, performance deficits, or degenerative processes.

Rather than sweeping aches and pains under the rug, or moving around the issue for the sake of “working out”, the aim is to target the issues at the causative level, in a whole body, comprehensive manner, working together to custom-tailor a movement practice to the individual’s own unique needs. This can be confusing for people who came in because of a hip complaint, but we start off focusing on their foot and neck (true story). Consider that the hip could be a secondary symptom underlying the real root of the issue, but over the years the symptoms are simply shifting to other areas of the body.

FOUNDATIONAL MOVEMENT AND STRENGTH

Foundational movements are the building blocks the body needs to perform physically and to resolve whatever movement based problems might arise. These are unique to the individual, their specific life/sport demands, and even determined by their early life experiences (birth, injuries, activities performed from a young age, genetics, etc).

Does your body have the appropriate raw materials to get the job done? Whether “the job” means working out 3 times per week, dancing at a high level, enjoying a 60 minute walk every day without knees aching, or just being confident that your body can tolerate and overcome the many stressors we face every day.

When your body has the raw materials, or building blocks for efficient, healthy movement, building strength on top of these helps to increase your system’s level of tolerance, improves performance, and reduces the likelihood of becoming injured.

GIVE YOUR BODY AN EXPERIENCE

All I really aim to do is help you have an experience of yourself that you couldn’t have had on your own.

A bit of guidance to move in ways that you wouldn’t have, otherwise. 

To identify what movements your body can and cannot currently do, explore these dark zones and new spaces, and provide the right balance of challenge and support to help you access these new ways of moving.

To find a proper balance, ratios, and qualities of natural, tri-planar, joint motions.

Restoring a more complete movement map of your body you can use in whatever way you choose to.

And, if you want, get strong AF.

Want to read more about this kinda thang? I think you’ll like THIS blog post that I wrote.