The Joyful Anthology

The Essential Movement Method

 Urban Wellness Clinic is the holistic haven for Chiropractic  treatment, movement aligning and strength training I frequent for optimal wellness. The Urban Wellness method identify’s the source of pain first, followed by treatment and re-educating the muscle pattern while offering strength work for further injury prevention. The staff at UWC are all highly skilled, expert practitioners that are all leading by example with their own holistic lifestyle. The stellar facility offers a beautiful energy that feels inspiring and joyful to work out of. I love talking to the staff about what they’ve been up to as they are continuously furthering education and devoted to improve Urban Wellness with the latest findings in body wellness.

When I learned that Dr. Emily Kiberd, founder and Chiropractic physician and Matt Semrick, personal trainer and movement coach teamed up to create the Essential Movement Method, I felt it was imperative to raise awareness on The Joyful Approach. I know too many people that suffer with chronic pain or aren’t  able to enjoy their fitness and move with freedom. When we can identify the root of the symptom, we can become our own teacher’s and retrain the pattern. That’s what Urban Wellness is about and what The Essential Movement Method will offer.
The goal of the Essential Movement Method is for trainers but it could be for any health professional- Chiro, pt, yogi, Pilates, acupuncturist, movement specialist. It could be for general population who lift and strength train as well.

I highly recommend carving out the time on May 19th/20th to have the experience with EMM to progress your client’s training or fine tune your own personal fitness resulting in optimal movement with your fitness.  Read my interview with Dr Kiberd and Matt below to get a glimpse into the world of The Urban Wellness Clinic. 

Dr. Kiberd, can you please share a little on your background with chiropractic care and what your optimal goals are with treatment?

I’m a chiropractor by training but a movement specialist at heart. I’m the chiropractor who adjusts aka a manipulation when needed, not with every patient, not at every visit. But every client does receive rehabilitative exercises to heal their own imbalances and compensations. We like to retrain movement patterns—similar to how we learned to move as babies, from the ground up—and then we retrain walking patterns. Every move we prescribe for patients, we’ve tried and tested on our own bodies, so we know the ins and outs of what we give.

Optimal goal: get you back to what you love to do, faster. Obviously, pain free. We empower our patients with tools, so if they have a flare-up they know what to do on their own to resolve their inflammation and discomfort. So many practices out there want the patient to rely on the practitioner to heal them, but the healing process comes from within. The patients who do their exercises, revamp their diet to anti-inflammatory eating habits, and strength train get better quicker.

Matt, can you please share your background with training and your optimal goals with the clients/patients you train?

M: When I first stepped into the training world, the fitness industry was in a very different place. “Big box” gyms were the place to go. A third of the members would do a circuit of exercises on machines, knock out a long cardio session on another machine, maybe go to a class once in awhile and hang out. Another third would only hit the weight room, bang out their workout pulled from a fitness magazine catering to bodybuilders, chug protein, and grudgingly do cardio when it was time to “cut.” The remaining third either only did cardio or only went to classes and stretched forever. Trainers wrote programs for their clients based on those bodybuilding programs split into chest/Tri, back/bi, legs/shoulders (there were a few radicals like me mixing legs into upper-body days, but hey, I’ve always tried to stay cutting-edge). Not a lot of regular folks deadlifted, and there were probably more bicep curls happening in the squat rack than squats. Core work was sit-ups and crunches in every direction, and the average trainer’s career span was eighteen months to three years.

Twenty years later, both the industry and I have evolved; I’ve become a movement specialist as much as a strength coach. I’ve been around for the introduction of the “plank”, functional training, a return to heavy lifting, and the birth of all kinds of fitness studios. Factions still exist and fitness crazes are still out there, but there is a great agreement that training movement patterns over just body parts is a better idea, you don’t need a treadmill to get your heart rate up, and lifting a heavy thing has value for everybody.

Optimal goal: I’d like my clients and patients to see clean, unrestricted movement as a gateway to longevity. I want them to value their ability to function and pick things up from a “how well” mindset more than “how much.” The combination of strength and movement should enhance their lives. Don’t get me wrong, “how much” is important, but only earned through ‘how well.” The road to strong and badass isn’t as much fun when it’s blocked by injury.

What does UWC offer that sets your clinic apart from other Chiropractic facilities?

We offer a full-service holistic approach. We offer a multitude of services: chiropractic, physical rehabilitation, massage therapy, strength training, acupuncture, functional medicine, nutritional therapy, barefoot podiatry, Active Release Technique, and yoga therapy. At first glance, this may look like we are the master of none, but we have brought in the highest-trained specialists in each of these disciplines. For example, our massage therapist has been doing her work for twenty years and goes to continuing education on a monthly basis because she loves it. Matt has been a trainer for twenty-one years and continually pushes himself to think outside the box on what tools would work for different kinds of patients. Most trainers, you will hear them counting out reps with their clients. This is an “meh” trainer. A great trainer knows how to cue good form and knows when to push their client hard. An extraordinary trainer will meet their client where they are at and take them to levels they never dreamed of with great cueing, programming, and knowing how to work with their injuries.

We pride ourselves on being hunters and going above and beyond. For example, we encourage every patient to send a picture of themselves at their desk so we can do an ergonomic assessment, because this is often a player in their pain, especially since most New Yorkers sit twelve hours a day and take lunch at their desks.

We will go work out with our patient to see what they are doing in their form if we can’t get them pain-free. We had a patient with shin splints that would flare up at Barry’s Bootcamp. We did everything we could do in the office—Active Release Technique, Graston, strength exercises—and she would walk out of the office pain-free and come back a week later in pain. We went to Barry’s and ran on the treader next to her. Surprise! She was running on her tippy toes like she was in five-inch heels. Her shins were on overload to try and slow her down. Fixed her gait while running, and her shin splints disappeared. Who can say their doctor goes and works out with them to figure out the root cause of their pain? Most doctors I know don’t work out, period— which is sad, because then they give archaic recommendations like “don’t squat below ninety degrees.”

We want to share our message with a broader audience, so for the last ten years, we’ve built corporate wellness programs for companies like Prada and Slack and TV shows like The Blacklist. This helps boost employee health and morale, and elevates the company to help make them competitive with the Facebooks and Googles of the world.

How has the Holistic Lifestyle influenced both of your practices?

E Self care through movement, nutrition, and sleep are essential since Matt and I both have kids and work hard, long hours. We both shoot for movement and strength training a minimum of three days a week. I see a functional medicine doctor to help clean up my gut and hormonal eczema, so my supplements and nutrition are dialed in and refined every two months based on my blood work. Sleep—this is the trickiest one, but I shoot for a bedtime of 10:30pm, and Baby Elvis wakes me up by 7:00 a.m. I know my body, and if it goes more than three nights without that kind of sleep, I start to feel under the weather. Everything we do with patients we have tried and tested on our own bodies; you could consider us the modern-day biohackers, or just “staying curious,” as my friend and fellow movement expert Chris Sritharan likes to say.

I also jump into a Higher Dose infrared sauna twice a week to detox from old heavy-metal toxicity I got from roofing with my dad as a teenager. Love this time alone to let my brain breathe or do business meetings with fellow lady doctors.

M: Approaching my life and practice from a more holistic viewpoint helps keep me functioning at a high level. As a forty-six-year-old father of a livewire three-year-old and a rapidly developing six-month-old, it’s hard to keep on the right track with a totally balanced life. Emily and I have often discussed the challenge of getting anything close to a full night’s sleep. I try to make up for some of that by controlling other holistic factors as best I can. A regular movement practice, both mobilizing and strength, attention to hydration, and a handle on what I’m putting in my mouth help keep me energized and productive. Being able to keep those pieces in place in combination with a busy family and work life make it easier to guide clients through their journey to wellness.

Can you share what the Essential Movement Method is?

E: There are good trainers out there. There are great trainers out there. What sets them apart from exceptional trainers? We hear from trainers that there are three things they struggle with: (1) having a good assessment they can do on every client to see where they need to start, (2) knowing what to do with the results from that assessment, (3) feeling confident in how to progress their clients and give them a hard workout without injuring them.

For example, if a client has hypermobile or overstretched hamstrings, a deadlift is a great strength move to reintegrate and strengthen those hamstrings. Some people who can’t feel their hamstrings will arch their backs when they hinge. How can a trainer identify this issue, what exercises can they do working up to the deadlift, and how can a trainer get their client to feel their hamstrings in the deadlift if they are overstretched?

These are the kinds of problems we are trying to help trainers solve.

M: Essential Movement Method is a guide for trainers and movement practitioners who are truly interested in providing real and lasting results for their clients. It bridges the gap between how we learned to move and function developmentally, how we should be moving now, and how we teach someone to move better. From simple assessment to progressive movement instruction to strength programming, EMM empowers us to help our clients get past training roadblocks and on the road to a truly stronger self.


Why did you feel inspired to create the Essential Movement Method?

We have trainers every week come into our practice and shadow us with their clients to help get a second and third set of eyes on cleaning up their clients’ movement patterns to help them get out of pain. We found ourselves saying the same thing over and over again. Some trainers were wide-eyed, intimidated; other trainers were hungry for more and would shadow us on their free time just to learn more.

Matt and I thought, “let’s develop this into a simple, digestible method that can be applied with every client.” There are so many methods that teach an assessment and hundreds of resets but then don’t show you how and where to use them. Trainers go back to their clients on Monday and don’t know where to start, feel overwhelmed, and go back to what they know. Our goal is to give trainers tools they can implement on Monday morning and feel confident about when and how to use these tools.

What are some obstacles you see with those in the fitness world that are misunderstood or misconceptions with proper movement?

Everyone loves getting six-pack abs and sucking in to have a great waistline. But this deprives us of access to our deep core that gives strength and stability to our spine. We see Pilates aficionados every day come in with a weak deep core because they’ve been pulling their belly button up and in. They have great-looking abs, but they are not functionally strong. The Pilates teachers we have met after having kids have diastasis recti or abdominal separation, pelvic floor issues, and incontinence problems. The demographic of people we see who have a great breath, brace, and spinal stability are the powerlifters or Strong First kettlebell enthusiasts who know how to stabilize to pull a weight.

The second obstacle: the methods that encourage lots of spinal extension or sway-back, pulling the shoulders down and back and focusing on the little dimple on the side of the butt with overactivation of the gluteus medius muscle. Some dance methods, high-intensity cardio classes, and some barre methods focus on these for aesthetics. I get it, these classes are fun and they help you break a sweat, but they put people in a posture where their body “remembers” extension and compression of the spine. The only other times we see this is when the body has hit full-on fatigue when working out or lifting and in babies that are not developing in a proper neurological timeline or framework. We often see these people with lower back pain, great abs, but chest-breathing and anxious.

How can someone interested in proper movement with their fitness learn from the Urban Wellness method?

M: There are tons of exercise programs and methods floating around the fitness community. What Essential Movement Method and Urban Wellness Clinic do is return to the “how,” how we learned to move, and translate that movement ability to performance. It’s one thing to tell or show a client an exercise or movement pattern; it’s very different to teach them to own it, which ultimately means feeling it in their body. Ownership of movement is the foundation for all real fitness results, and that’s something the Essential Movement Method does very well. It teaches the return to our deeply ingrained ability to learn to move.

What feels most Joyful at Urban Wellness at the moment?

The collaboration of great minds all in one space. We have Dr Emily Splichal with us, a barefoot podiatrist and regenerative medicine doctor, doing great work with stem cell injections and foot pain. Megan Richardson is a great trainer-turned-acupuncturist and DoTerra essential oil provider, fusing the three disciplines together beautifully.

Launching Essential Movement Method really brings Matt and me a lot of joy, I know it keeps me up at night giddy about sharing this with the world.

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